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Mobile commerce surges ahead of Christmas rush

Tuesday, 6 December 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Online retailers have been urged to match their mobile commerce strategies with their customers, with new research identifying Australian online shoppers as increasingly sophisticated mobile users.

 

According to a Forrester Research report, titled “Mobile Technographics: Australian Online Shoppers”, 84% of online adults with mobile phones use them for more than just voice services.

 

The report reveals almost 50% of Australian adult mobile phone owners – who regularly shop online for apparel, footwear or accessories – are also in Forrester’s “Entertainers” category.

 

This means they use they mobile phones to purchase content, apps or personalised services for entertainment at least weekly.

 

Meanwhile, 38% of Australian adult mobile phone owners – who regularly shop online for computer hardware, software or peripherals – are also in Forrester’s “Connectors” category.

 

This means they use mobile email at least once a month, or they use another efficiency or productivity application such as mapping.

 

Forrester’s other consumer categories include:

 

Inactives. Just 8% of online Australian adults are Inactives, meaning they don’t own a mobile phone.

 

Talkers. Mobile phone users who only use voice services are Talkers. 8% of online Australian adults fall into this category, which means 84% are neither Inactives nor Talkers.

 

Communicators. 31% of online Australian adults are Communicators, who use SMS, MMS or IM at least monthly. These consumers don’t use any other data services on their mobile phones.

 

SuperConnecteds. 38% of Australian online adults are SuperConnecteds. Members of this group tend to use their mobile phones to communicate, get information and shop.

 

The percentage of “SuperConnected” Australians rises to 60% when examining those who buy clothing, footwear and/or accessories online.

 

Report author Steven Noble says Australian online retailers must understand the behavior of their customers in order to shape “sensible” mobile commerce strategies.

“Online retailers should base their mobile commerce strategies on their own circumstances, starting with a detailed assessment of their customers and their… mobile behaviors,” Noble says.

 

“With such a strategy in place, they should innovate in a way that allows them to learn rapidly and build on their experiences, failing quickly if necessary.”

 

“This will prepare them for a not-so-distant future in which smart phones are more powerful than ever before and even more common in Australia than they are today.”

Noble’s suggestions include:

 

  • Starting with mobile sites and then adding apps. Just 23% of online Australian smart phone users regularly download apps, so most businesses should initially focus on the other core type of mobile offering; a solid, mobile-optimised website.

 

Even the heaviest app users may not have your app when they need to interact with your brand, so ensure that they can access your business on the Web using their mobile phone.

 

  • Taking an iPhone-biased approach to reaching as many types of mobile as possible. Half of all Australian smart phones users who know what operating system their phone uses report using an iOS device

 

As a result, businesses need to focus first on developing applications for the iPhone and iPad.

 

Apple’s dominance will also affect their approach to developing mobile websites because Flash doesn’t work on the iPhone.

 

Use standards-compliant HTML for the basics, and HTML5 to create richer interactive experiences.

 

  • Keeping it simple with mobile marketing. Only 9% of online Australian mobile phone users regularly receive coupons or promotions on their mobile phones, and just 14% regularly vote with their mobiles or enter a contest via SMS.

 

  • This suggests that sophisticated tactics, like mobile couponing, could be ineffective with many online Australian consumers.

 

Instead of taking huge risks, start with the foundational elements of every mobile marketing program, then experiment and learn.