For the first year ever, global Smartphone sales surpassed PC sales with nearly 488 million Smartphones shipped, compared to 415 million PCs. For European retailers, leveraging the features of these devices will prompt more immediate and relevant engagement with shoppers.
Winter holiday shopping is often an activity that's steeped in tradition and ritual. Some shoppers relish in the very tactile and visually indulgent experience of in-store shopping; other shoppers favor the convenience and simplicity of online shopping. But now, shoppers are increasingly visiting physical store locations to research products only and then, using their mobile devices to make better, more informed purchases.
In July 2012, Forrester Research launched its very first European Mobile Commerce Forecast, highlighting the role of mobile devices in Europeans' everyday lives, how mobile is often the first point of contact in the purchase cycle (rather than secondary) and why mobile will be a key contributor to the growth of mCommerce in Europe over the next five years. It's predicted that mobile commerce will represent 6.8 per cent of all online sales across Europe by 2017 (excluding tablets). So, how and why should European brands integrate mobile advertising into their Christmas holiday advertising campaigns?
Mobile influences in-store purchases
Understanding the behaviours and needs of European shoppers is an essential component to a brand's successful mCommerce strategy. According to comScore's "Connected Europe" report, mobile retail is one of the fastest growing new uses of Smartphones. In fact, more than 13.6 million Smartphone owners in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) used mobile devices to access a retail site in October 2011. The UK had the largest audience with 4.7 million people, but Germany accounted for the largest increase in users with a 112 percent growth year-over-year. What's even more telling is that nearly 22 percent of surveyed mobile users in these EU5 countries snapped a photo of a product while standing in a shop. That is a very telling and important milestone for European mCommerce. Mobile devices are no longer being perceived, or used, as a secondary, add-on component; they're now a central part of the shopping experience, enabling shoppers to compare prices while on the high street.
People who own Smartphones (i.e. iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, etc.) are now being called "super users" – they use their Smartphones at every point of their day, whether it's using a navigation app, searching for a nearby restaurant or playing a gaming app. According to a new study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, what devices people are using, when they are using them and where they happen to be all matter critically to their content preferences, usage patterns and openness to advertising messages. The report goes on to say that nearly 70 per cent of Smartphone users "won't leave home without their devices." If these behavioral patterns and mobile inclinations go ignored, European retailers will risk losing a significant amount of mobile revenue and shops without a mobile presence are missing out on a prime opportunity to engage with their existing and prospective customers.
Mobile spurs impulse purchases
Just as every country has its own unique cultural traditions and norms, it's been noted that Europeans shop for winter holiday gifts quite differently than their American counterparts. Americans shop early; they save money for several months; they plan in advance. Europeans, on the other hand, are procrastinators by nature and tend to use their mobile devices to make last-minute purchases. For brands in entertainment and lifestyle categories such as music, books, DVDs, ticketed events and auctions, mobile-specific features such as immediacy and location can be effective and engaging tools to grow mobile commerce revenue.
Geo-location targeting delivers a brand's message, products and services to a more specific audience based on where users are located, what they are searching for and when they are searching. This form of targeted advertising enables brands to not only reach consumers on the go, but can also open new doors of revenue for retailers, service providers, clubs, restaurants, cafes, theatres and any other businesses looking to create brand awareness in a specific town or city.
In addition to geo-location targeting, it's important for European retailers to understand the varying types of mobile devices being used by consumers, whether it be the iPhone, the myriad of Android powered devices or the range of tablets now on the market. The important learning here is that mobile devices attract different types of demographics. Understanding the demographic of the users of a specific device or device type will allow brands to include or exclude users of that device seeing their ads. This insight could very well mean the difference between strong sales numbers and a dismal showing this winter holiday season.
Shoppers are more receptive to mobile ads
If European retailers are still skeptical on the value of mobile advertising, a survey by Prosper Mobile Insights points to users' receptivity to seeing (and acting) on ads appearing on their Smartphones and tablets. In fact, 3 out of 4 mobile web surfers pay attention to ads while surfing the web. It cites that that 71 per cent of respondents welcome mobile ads and view them as a personal invitation from brands. Plus, over half (51 per cent) want a brand's mobile ads to connect them to their company's wider product range, and 30 per cent said they like personalized ads.
This comes at the same time that The IAB Mobile Phone Shopping Diaries reports that 76 per cent of mobile commerce users have used their mobile devices in a physical shop and 53 per cent of mobile commerce users have abandoned an in-store purchase as a result of using their mobile devices. With more and more European Smartphone owners embracing the mobile shopping experience, it's time for retailers to act on these insights and ensure they have a mobile-centric advertising strategy in place to take advantage of the lucrative festive season and grow their revenue over the next few years.
Nick Marsh is the VP for sales and publisher development, EMEA at Mojiva