Mobile retailing: A non-factor

Shopping via a smart device will be less than 2 percent of retail revenue in 2016. So what's all the hubbub about?

ORLANDO: You'd think given all the things we do on a mobile phone that shopping would have some momentum. You'd be wrong.

Retail IT was among the key verticals of focus Sunday at the Gartner Symposium and one prevailing message was that multichannel retailing is going away as channels blend into one. The other one is that mobile just isn't much of a factor for retailers.

This slide tells the mobile commerce tale:


In other words, mobile commerce is less than 2 percent of retail revenue going forward. Kiosks, stores, smart shelves, Web sites and even QR codes are in the shopping process mix. Mobile sites are basically used to find stores. Google, Apple and eBay's PayPal are hoping smartphones will be used as payment tools. Actually shopping over a phone is basically a non-starter.

Web commerce is clearly influencing brick-and-mortar stores so why wouldn't mobile efforts do anything. It turns out that consumers are using their smart devices to browse, compare prices and find locations.

Gartner found in a survey:

  • 62 percent of consumers didn't conduct any type of financial transaction via their mobile phones.
  • Consumers rank payments low in the list of things they want to do.
  • 79 percent expect a final purchase in a cross channel shopping expedition to end in a store.

Why not try mobile shopping? Security concerns are one reason consumer refrain from mobile shopping. Another issue is that the technology lacks much personality. Store associates trump mobile devices as the most important shopping helpers.

If you're in retail and IT, the upshot is that mobile apps need to focus on point-of-sale applications, customer education and perks like out-of-stock status updates. Mobile commerce investments just aren't a factor.