How Consumers Actually Shop on Their Mobiles

April Davis By April Davis | 22 May 2018

The latest PayPal mCommerce Index: Trends Report 2018 has revealed that 67 percent of consumers browse online stores on their mobile for “fun” rather than actual shopping.

It’s no secret that shopping online on a mobile device is convenient, but new research has found that 67 percent of Australians browsing mobile sites don’t actually have any intention of making a purchase, and 77 percent of mobile shoppers only buy something on impulse.

The use of mobile e-commerce sites as a form of entertainment is becoming more and more popular, with PayPal finding that 46 percent of consumers indulge in online window-shopping at least once a week, and 44 percent of respondents saying they browse online for relaxation and leisure.

However, those that do indulge in retail therapy on their mobiles are likely to do it right before bed, with 50 percent of under-35s claiming they shop on their mobile before going to sleep.

According to Elaine Herlihy, the director of customer engagement at PayPal Australia, this behavioural shift towards shopping for entertainment, or what she refers to as “retailment”, contains valuable insights for retailers.

“The data shows that simply having an online offering is no longer enough for retailers. Australians are demanding mobile-first experiences and are gravitating towards mobile shopping experiences that are fun and engaging.

“Reading and writing reviews, product research and sharing images of virtual try-ons is an enjoyable pastime for many Australians, particularly among younger shoppers,” she said.

Herlihy believes that retailers can’t afford to view their mobile offerings as purely “transactional”, as consumers are looking for platforms that also deliver a strong customer experience that comes with entertainment value.

This is particularly the case for any brands targeting younger audiences, with 69 percent of Gen Z consumers surveyed (22 years and under) saying they engage in mobile shopping for entertainment. Interestingly enough, in this same age group, 69 percent of respondents also cited TV as a preferred source of entertainment, while only 27 percent would rather head outside and play a sport.

Using Augmented Reality (AR) to Complete the Mobile Commerce Equation

Despite the continued popularity and growth of mobile commerce, consumers still have a number of pain points that retailers need to address for customers to feel more at ease browsing online and following through to make a purchase.

According to PayPal’s research, 88 percent of consumers worry about product sizes and 82 percent about suitability. This is where AR comes in. Online marketplaces like Alibaba are already working with AR technology to ease consumer concerns and make virtual shopping more of an all-around experience.

magic mirror

Tmall demonstrating the use of Alibaba’s Magic Mirror at QV in Melbourne.

This can be seen with the development of mirrors that let shoppers ‘try-on’ makeup and ‘size fit’ technology that allows consumers to see how a piece of clothing will fit their specific body shape.

According to PayPal’s latest research report, 51 percent of Australian shoppers want to see more retailers integrate AR in their online offerings, while 12 percent say they would be more likely to share content with their friends via social media if they had access to virtual fit imagery. Almost half of the consumers who took part in PayPal’s study (44 percent) also said they would be more inclined to purchase products online if they could see a virtual representation of it in action prior to purchasing it.

“Retailers who have taken the next step in their digital presence are integrating emerging technologies like augmented reality to increase engagement and drive social sharing. Augmented reality gives retailers an interactive way to provide confidence prior to purchase,” said Herlihy.

Presently, its estimated that only five percent of small-to-medium businesses in Australia offer AR experiences, which correlates with the five percent of Aussie consumers who have used AR tech in a retail environment in the past.

Ethan Nyholm, the CEO of STM Goods, an Australian-owned premium tech and fashion accessories brand, has seen the value of AR technology in mobile shopping environments first-hand.

“Enabling customers to virtually try on our products through our AR experience has allowed us to communicate key value points while engaging customers at all levels of our distribution chain,” Nyholm said.

“Since integrating AR, we have seen an uplift in both customer engagement and in sales, and we attribute this to giving customers the opportunity to explore our products and truly appreciate the thought that goes into their design.”

According to PayPal, 62 percent of Australians would like to see fashion retailers integrate AR technology, while 47 percent would use it for homewares and 36 percent for accessories.

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