Moms & Their Smartphones: Is mCommerce Becoming A Reality?

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According to recent research conducted by Babycenter.com (and digested via eMarketer), smartphones have become the “go everywhere, do anything device” of choice for mothers in the U.S.mobile-websites-smartphones-featured

With the number of mothers using smartphones rising from 34% to 46% in the last year alone, it’s clear that this device is becoming ubiquitous among the demographic that has taken the household reins when it comes to purchasing decisions.

In fact, women in the U.S. account for 85% of all purchasing decisions, including everything from cars to health care coverage. There were two things in particular that stood out in the research:

  • The fact that “more than 7 out of 10 mothers who owned a smartphone, tablet and PC said they would keep their smartphones and scrap the rest” if they could only keep one device.
  • How smart phones are increasingly used in the overall purchase process (see graphic from eMarketer below).

A Little Informal Research

While mobile commerce (or mCommerce, as many are calling it) is still a long way off from dominating the commerce landscape, it is increasingly becoming a critical part of the overall “shopper journey.” To that end, it’s becoming critical for brand marketers and small businesses to optimize the buying experience across all channels.

To provide a little bit of additional color commentary to the mCommerce story, I did an informal survey of some of my female friends on Facebook. The question I asked was: “For my mommy friends who use smartphones, have you ever purchased something via your phone? If yes, what and how recently?”

What was interesting is that I got about 50 responses (out of 2,400 friends) — not statistically significant but enough to give directional information. For starters, all but about 2-3 of the women I surveyed said they had purchased something recently via their smartphone. And from the sounds of it, they are doing a lot of it.

The mobile purchases ranged from a bridesmaids dress (Etsy) to kids’ clothes to airline and movie tickets. Many of the moms cited regular purchases from Amazon and eBay, and a few others mentioned ordering cabs and town cars (Uber) from their phones. A few of the other moms said that while they didn’t necessarily purchase goods from their phones, they did text/e-mail coupons to themselves or used their phones to do research.

What This Means For Marketers

Of course, this background information on mothers using smartphones for commerce is interesting; but the question is, what can/should marketers be doing to take advantage of it?

1. This may seem obvious, but is your website optimized for mobile? Because of the small screen, it’s critical that extra attention is paid to overall user experience and that it includes obvious functionality that is easy to understand.

2. If you are seeing an uptick in mCommerce, or even mobile site traffic (this will show up in your Web analytics), it might be time to consider a mobile application. Note: if you do go down this path, make sure you pay close attention to what your Web logs are telling you. People may be more interested in store locators and job applications than browsing your store or reading your blog.

3. Focus on creating “omni-channel” experiences. What this means is: if someone sees something on their tablet or PC, they should be able to save or be able to re-find that same information on their mobile device later. Or if they download a mobile coupon or gift card, make sure they can redeem it in a physical store.

4. Make those customer ratings and reviews findable. Research shows that 90% of customers in the U.S. are influenced by customer reviews. This will become increasingly important on the mobile phone.

5. Because 40% of US smartphone owners compare prices on their mobile devices while in-store shopping for an item, pay close attention to how your prices stack up with your competition. This doesn’t mean you need to offer a “lowest price guarantee” but it does mean that you may need to work harder at creating a better experience and/or offer things like free shipping.

6. If women drive 85% of the household purchasing decisions, are you making sure that you are optimizing your mobile website/applications for them? Research that my company, W2O Group, has conducted shows that women prefer different styles of imagery online than men.

7. At some point in time, search is likely to come into play while your mother/female audience is learning more about you and your products. Are you using keywords and content that speak to them?

The bottom line here is that while many companies know that mobile is evolving into a critical channel for their constituents, many still aren’t doing enough to optimize this experience.

The good news is: it’s not too late to start. And every little bit helps, whether it’s improving your mobile Web experience, making your business and products more findable or creating a better omni-channel experience for your customer. At the end of the day, “she’s” armed with her favorite device and she’s ready to purchase!

Special thanks to friend, Damien Basile, for proactively sending me useful research on mobile commerce data, especially as it relates to women and mothers.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Aaron Strout is Chief Marketing Officer at integrated marketing and communications firm, W2O Group. During his tenure with the company, he has served as President of WCG and head of W2O’s technology practice. Aaron has 20 plus years of social media, mobile, online marketing and advertising experience, with a strong background in integrated marketing. Prior to joining W2O, Aaron spent time as the CMO of Powered Inc. (now part of Dachis Group), VP of social media at online community provider, Mzinga, and as director of digital marketing at Fidelity Investments. Aaron is the co-author of Location Based Marketing for Dummies (Wiley) and writes a monthly mobile/location-based marketing column on Marketingland.com. He also recently launched the What 2 Know podcast (iTunes) which features industry leaders talking about innovation and best practices.

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