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The Future's Bright, The Future's Mobile

05 April 2010 - 08:04 by Simon Crisp

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As a retailer, one thing upon which you can almost invariably rely nowadays is that your typical consumer probably has a mobile phone. The real question here is what does this mean for online retailers and the future of safe shopping online?

Research shows that a significant percentage of mobiles are already being used for internet access on a regular basis and that this trend is set to accelerate in the future. A study by Forrester Research suggests that by the year 2013, 125 million people in western Europe will have 'gone mobile' with the internet.

This is important news for online retailers and for those with other e-commerce businesses. All of these mobile internet users are potentially consumers who will use the web for safe shopping online. There has been further encouraging news on this front following research from mobile giant Motorola, which carried out a study of attitudes to mobile commerce in eleven countries.

Motorola found that during the Christmas holiday period, 51% of those consumers surveyed had used their mobile phones for an activity relating to mobile commerce, whether it was shopping, product reviews, price comparison or searching for vouchers. Of these 51%, 64% were in the youth demographic, strongly suggesting that these trends could continue to accelerate in the future as more and more consumers grow up seeing their mobile phones as the primary means by which to access the internet.

The ever increasing sophistication of smartphones and their associated operating systems including the iPhone, Google Android and Windows Mobile 7 Series can only serve to further accelerate the process.

One thing is certain: if online retailers are to leverage this opportunity, sites will require mobile versions suited to browsing on the small screen. Other mobile mechanisms will also become an ever more vital element of the online marketing mix including social media (increasingly integrated within the current generation of smartphones) and mobile phone applications ("apps").