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Turning Point 2011: Mobile Commerce By The Numbers

Over the last 4 or 5 years there has been vigorous debate regarding when, exactly, the true potential of mobile will be realized.

Mobile mapping, mobile TV, check-ins, mobile payments, push ads, games, QR Codes, NFC, Daily Deals, SMS, virtual mobile currency, pop-up ads, barcode scanning, coupons, and a litany of other topics have had their moment in the sun. But no single mobile technology or theme has proved itself as transformational in a lasting way… until now.

Turning Point 2011

Finally, as 2011 came to a close, we saw real, tracked and reported numbers that were way too numerically impressive to be dismissed as a fad or trend. These numbers were tied to Mobile Commerce.

To be clear, I do not mean mobile payments, which I define as paying for items at checkout, using your mobile phone. I an referring to online sales converted on mobile websites specifically designed and formatted for this purpose. Example:

Retailers & Brands Lagging Behind

For years, online retailers and brands waited, while their customers flocked to web-connected smartphones and, as a result, small screens are now crammed with large format websites never designed for this purpose.

In late 2011 retailers and brands finally started waking up and launching mobile optimized sites, and this fueled explosive growth and big profits for those still out ahead of the curve.

Mobile consumers can finally land on mobile-optimized commerce-enabled websites and the traffic to these sites can be converted into transactions in a trusted, secure environment. These mobile conversion metrics are the key and the resulting revenue numbers are real, undeniable, and impactful.

Changing Expectations

As more brands and retailers launch mobile commerce sites, consumer expectations have changed rapidly. In fact, most consumers surveyed now expect mobile sites to not only function, but to work better than  standard e-commerce sites.

Retailers and big brands are finally realizing that mobile commerce is not some fringe distraction to their e-commerce team, but, rather, a way to add 10-20% to their bottom line in incremental revenue. That’s right, retailers and brands are not stealing from Peter to pay Paul, and most see no drop in “traditional” online sales. It’s all upside.

For athletic shoe retail giant Finish Line, their mobile site now makes up 14% of their total online traffic. For adult online retail leader Adam & Eve, mobile commerce accounted for a whopping 8% of their total revenue, only 2 weeks after it was launched.

Still not convinced that mobile commerce has ushered in a revenue-fueled turning point that should/will change the entire tenor of the mobile space? Here are the numbers.

Mobile Commerce Stats

-PayPal saw a 397% increase in the number of consumers shopping via PayPal Mobile on Cyber Monday 2011, compared to 2010.

-Rue La La saw an almost 200% increase in mobile sales on Cyber Monday 2011 vs 2010.

-Ebay’s mobile commerce doubled to over 2010 to $5Billion+ in 2011

-Ebay’s Black Friday mobile sales were up 516%, over 2010.

- Mobile commerce sales were $6.7Billion in 2011 in the U.S.,  a 91.4% increase over 2010.
- In 2012, mobile commerce is expected to increase another 73.1% to $11.6 billion.

-Apple devices account for 92% of mobile commerce, to-date. There is so much room for growth!
-The average mobile commerce purchase was $123 (vs. $87 for purchases from desktop PCs).
-Shopping by mobile users doubled from 1.87% to 3.87% of all online purchases in the past 9 months!

-During the 2011 Holiday season, 44% of all Google searches for last minute gifts and store locator terms were from mobile devices

-Of consumers surveyed, 70% use their smartphones while in stores and 77% have contacted a business via mobile.

-64% of smartphone owners age 18-24 used a smartphone to find a deal this Holiday season.

-There were 20Million mobile bar code scans in Q3 2011, a 40% increase from Q3 2010.

-According to eMarketer, mobile commerce grew 90% in 2011 over 2010 and is predicted to grow another 73% in 2012.

-eBay is expected to do $6Billion in incremental mobile commerce revenue in 2012.

-According to IBM, mobile traffic made up 18.3% of all online traffic on Christmas day 2011.


Tracked, incremental mobile commerce transactions can occur anytime, anywhere and are initiated on smartphones carried religiously by almost 50% of Americans. Online sales are no longer occurring only in front of a desktop or laptop, but anywhere and anytime.

Even more importantly, mobile commerce sales can be triggered by real world interactions with products, retail locations, in-store point of purchase displays, peers, signage, etc. The (largely untracked) mobile and social media marketing spend already occurring can be tapped to drive mobile commerce, with tracked results. This means that smart brands (or their agencies) can (and should) be able to adjust mobile ad campaigns on the fly, to maximize ROI, in the form of tracked incremental revenue from mobile commerce.

The biggest takeaway here is directed toward the retailers or brands who still do not have an integrated mobile commerce-enabled site. Read and digest the numbers above and ask yourself this simple question, “How easy it is for a mobile consumer to visit my site and convert a purchase?” (Hint: Try it!).

If you do not have a mobile site the answer will be painfully obvious. Make fixing this your new year’s resolution for 2012!


Wilson Kerr (@WLLK) is a mobile LBS marketing expert, and VP of Sales and Business Development for  Unbound CommerceContact Wilson today to learn more. Mobile: 303-249-2083.

Some of the stats in this post were compiled from various sources by Gabrielle Kalika of Mobile Marketer. I have added added more my own, also compiled from various sources. All stats can be verified, via Google search.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Wilson Kerr

Wilson has 11+ years experience in the Mobile and Location Based Services (LBS) space. Recently, he became Director Of Business Development and Sales for Unbound Commerce, a Boston-based mobile commerce solution provider. He has deep expertise in the areas of mobile commerce, social media, branded location integration, branded content licensing, and is knowledgeable in a broad range of navigation technologies. Wilson has worked with top tier brands, content providers, device manufacturers, and application developers, including Nokia, Unbound Commerce, Tele Atlas/TomTom, The Travel Channel, Langenscheidt Publishing, Intellistry, Parking In Motion, GPS-POI-US, and others. Wilson is a blogger on all things location-based, edits the LBS topic page on Ulitzer, teaches a Social Media 101 class, and has served as a panelist and speaker at Mobile LBS conferences and networking events. Wilson has held positions in Business Development, Sales/Marketing, and Digital Licensing at The North Face, Outdoor Intelligence, Fishing Hot Spots Maps, Tele Atlas North America/TomTom and, most-recently, Unbound Commerce. Wilson left Tele Atlas to start Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007. Company Website: Twitter: @WLLK

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