Mobile commerce posted astounding growth rates in 2015. A recent Forrester Research survey indicates that smartphone sales accounted for 17% of total retail sales in 2015, and that sales from smartphone devices grew 53% year-over-year.
This trend is likely to continue in 2016 and beyond. In fact, Paypal research indicates that global mobile commerce growth should outpace eCommerce growth by three to one, while US mobile commerce should grow from $54.6 million in 2014 to $96.3 million by the end of 2016. Compared to the roughly 10% increase eCommerce is expected to see each year, mobile commerce in the US has a projected growth rate of approximately 30 percent each year through 2016.
Why is Mobile Commerce Growing So Quickly?
What’s behind this staggering mobile commerce growth? According to ComScore, it is due simply to the rapid increase in the number of smartphone owners – of whom there are about 200 million today in the U.S. – and a growing familiarity with making mobile purchases.
That customers have grown increasingly comfortable with purchasing online was proven in the 2015 holiday shopping season, where the use of mobile devices accounted for 63% of all online retail visits. This increase in mobile commerce is placing additional pressure on traditional brick and mortar and multi-channel retail businesses.
B2B Mobile Commerce Growth
Mobile commerce growth isn’t limited to B2C; it’s happening in B2B as well. Usablenet recently reported that 16% of B2B sites are already being visited by mobile users. In another survey, Usablenet found that 78% of B2B companies believe mobile is the future of online commerce. Half of those surveyed already had a mobile commerce channel in place, and 75% planned to offer mobile commerce by the end of 2014.
IT industry analyst Gartner Group predicts that mobile commerce is an untapped growth opportunity for B2B marketers, who have so far been lagging their B2C counterparts in terms of generating revenue from mobile. B2B marketers generate only 19.4% of revenue from mobile, while B2C generates 22.6%. But several B2B companies are leading the way, showing what the possibilities are.
Gartner referenced Grainger as one such company. Grainger has developed a robust mobile app that lets customers maintain lists, keep track of their order history, chat with a company representative, and search for products.
Mobile Commerce: Not Just for Kids
The turn toward mobile isn’t just happening among the millennial segment, either. A recent Forrester study concluded that although millennials (26- to 34-year-olds) do lead other generations in terms of tablet adoption, 35- to 44-year-olds show the highest levels of actual tablet use during the process of researching a purchase.
Other mobile commerce research bears this out. A recent survey by KRC research for Verizon found that 70% of millennials purchased a product via a mobile app in 2015 (up 85% from 2014). Among Generation X, that number was only slightly lower, at 66%. Even baby boomers had significant mobile commerce purchases with 39% having purchased a product via a mobile app in 2015.
The biggest surprise in the Verizon/KRC research is probably the widespread adoption of mobile commerce among baby boomers. According to Scott Charlston, public relations manager at Verizon, “The oldest Baby Boomers are turning 70 in 2016…as a group 70% of them own a smartphone, and they’re making transactions as they approach retirement – 43% do mobile banking and 39% are shopping with smartphone apps.”
What Stands in the Way of Mobile Commerce Growth?
Paypal’s research indicates that the top barrier to mobile commerce growth is small screen size and lack of functionality on mobile sites, which may be mobile-responsive but are often not fully optimized for mobile purchasing.
This finding ties into research that found large numbers of B2B buyers doing research on mobile devices, but turning toward desktop or other channels when it was time to make a purchase. A mobile responsive site can be read on a mobile device, but unless the eCommerce functionality is optimized for mobile, the actual purchase itself may be difficult if not impossible.
What Does Mobile Commerce Growth Mean for B2B?
What do these statistics mean for manufacturers and distributors selling B2B? They indicate that in the very near future, B2B brands seeking to maximize profits will need to have a solid mobile commerce growth strategy in place. Those that already offer a mobile purchasing experience will need to continue to improve their mobile offerings, with more robust functionality and better security.
B2B buyers are already adopting the use of mobile for the research portion of their buying journey. As these functionality issues are addressed, we can expect to see continued mobile commerce growth in B2B.
Is your company offering mobile commerce as part of your online strategy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.