What do Online Shoppers Want?

Industry Insight

Today, nearly 1/3 of all internet surfers shop online. The growing number of internet shoppers represents the single greatest economic revelation in our lifetimes. That huge body of consumers is out there, but how do you attract them? What do consumers want?

Here is a great infographic from Conscore.com for an inside look at the statistics and numbers behind shoppers’ preferences and behaviors.

The History of M-Commerce

Finland led the way with several notable firsts and milestones in m-Commerce.

Mobile commerce began in 1997: two mobile-phone enabled Coca Cola vending machines were installed in Helsinki, Finland, accepting payment via SMS text messages. Mobile phone-based banking service using SMS was launched in 1997 by Merita Bank of Finland.

Sales of digital content started in 1998 with downloads to mobile phones: the first commercial downloadable ringtones were launched in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Oyj).

Two major national commercial platforms for mobile commerce were launched in 1999: Smart Money (http://smart.com.ph/money/) in the Philippines, and NTT DoCoMo’s i-Mode Internet service in Japan. i-Mode offered a revolutionary revenue-sharing plan where NTT DoCoMo kept 9 percent of the fee users paid for content, and returned 91 percent to the content owner.

Mobile-commerce-related services spread rapidly in early 2000. Norway launched mobile parking payments. Austria offered train ticketing via mobile device. Japan offered mobile purchases of airline tickets.

In April 2002, building on the work of the Global Mobile Commerce Forum (GMCF), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) appointed Joachim Hoffmann of Motorola to develop official standards for mobile commerce. In appointing Mr Hoffman, ETSI quoted industry analysts as predicting “that m-commerce is poised for such an exponential growth over the next few years that could reach US$200 billion by 2004”.

PDAs and cellular phones have become so popular that many businesses[specify] are beginning to use mobile commerce as a more efficient way to communicate with their customers.

In order to exploit the potential mobile commerce market, mobile phone manufacturers such as Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, and Qualcomm are working with carriers such as AT&T Wireless and Sprint to develop WAP-enabled smartphones. Smartphones offer fax, e-mail, and phone capabilities.

“Profitability for device vendors and carriers hinges on high-end mobile devices and the accompanying killer applications,” said Burchett. Perennial early adopters, such as the youth market, which are the least price sensitive, as well as more open to premium mobile content and applications, must also be a key target for device vendors.

Since the launch of the iPhone, mobile commerce has moved away from SMS systems and into actual applications. SMS has significant security vulnerabilities and congestion problems, even though it is widely available and accessible. In addition, improvements in the capabilities of modern mobile devices make it prudent to place more of the resource burden on the mobile device.

More recently, brick and mortar business owners, and big-box retailers in particular, have made an effort to take advantage of mobile commerce by utilizing a number of mobile capabilities such as location based services, barcode scanning, and push notifications to improve the customer experience of shopping in physical stores.

By creating what is referred to as a ‘bricks & clicks’ environment, physical retailers can allow customers to access the common benefits of shopping online (such as product reviews, information, and coupons) while still shopping in the physical store. This is seen as a bridge between the gap created by e-commerce and in-store shopping, and is being utilized by physical retailers as a way to compete with the lower prices typically seen through online retailers.