This past holiday weekend, mobile shopping exploded, delivering what some are calling “unprecedented” numbers. By the conclusion of the year’s biggest shopping weekend, mobile traffic accounted for 41 percent of all online traffic, representing a 35 percent increase in growth from last year, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. Mobile sales were solid as well–they were up 44 percent from last year, and made up 23 percent of all online sales.
“What we saw from mobile this holiday weekend was unprecedented,” IBM’s Smarter Commerce Strategy Director Jay Henderson told me. “My prediction was that mobile traffic would hover somewhere around 40 percent, but it has surpassed even that, which is really exciting. Mobile has a lot of potential, and we’re just starting to see it unfold.” Henderson also suspected that on Cyber Monday, sales would break records, and he was right. U.S. shoppers made Cyber Monday the biggest online shopping day in history with a 20.6 percent increase in online sales, according to a statement from IBM. Mobile sales led the way, exceeding 17 percent of total online sales, (representing an increase of 55.4 percent year-over-year), IBM says.
So what’s next? If its 2013 inertia is any indication, mobile is going to be a key player in 2014. Here are the top five things you need to know about the future of the growing industry.
1. Nomophobia Will Become a Growing Problem
The fear of not being connected due to a flat battery, lack of signal or loss of a mobile phone will become more aggressive as the “Internet of Things” digs deeper into mobility. “People are now expected to have their mobile phone when making arrangements and increasingly, so people will be expected to have it when paying for things, such as parking meters and restaurant bills. Wearable tech takes the Internet closer to the user than ever before and this trend will be driven by new device categories such as smart watches and fitness gadgets, but less so by innovations such as Google Glass,” according to Netbiscuit’s Mobile Web Predictions report.
2. There Will Be Rising Demand for Syncing Between Devices
Twenty fourteen looks like it could be a year of frustration for consumers struggling with poor experiences on devices that don’t allow them to share. While mobile providers should be aiming to provide smoother transitions and more transfer-ability between devices, the issue isn’t likely to be resolved in 2014, Netbiscuit’s report predicts. “HTML5 is still an evolving standard and NFC isn’t universally available. Search is likely to remain the most common way of picking up an activity on another device in 2014,” the report concludes.
3. SMS Will Make a Comeback
Enterprises with a global footprint will increasingly rely on SMS due to its interoperability, proven reliability, ubiquity and global reliance, according to predictions made by OpenMarket, a mobile payment platform provider. ”Enterprises will prove SMS isn’t dead as consumers increasingly opt-in to receiving SMS and MMS communications from their favorite brands,” Steve French, VP of product management at OpenMarket, said in an email.
4. Deep Linking Will Drive Mobile Commerce and Mobile Advertising
While traditional ad clicks take a user to the advertised product’s home page, deep linked ads take users directly to the product page within the advertiser’s app. If a user sees an ad for ski boots from Sports Authority while playing Words with Friends, for example, the deep linked ad would take him straight to the buy page within the Sport Authority app. Mobile search providers, most notably Google with KitKat for Android, are taking advantage of deep linking as well, taking users to the buy page immediately, bypassing home or other landing pages. ”Deep linking provides a much smoother, better experience for users. Ultimately, this will mean better returns on advertisements for retailers,” John Milinovich, CEO of URX, a mobile app deeplink retargeting provider, says.
5. App Pricing Models Will Shift Focus to Downstream Revenue
App installs will become cheaper as companies move away from charging users an initial download price and towards in-app purchase opportunities. The popular Candy Crush Saga app, for example, has made a tremendous amount of money despite being completely free to purchase. The game makes its profits by selling moves, tickets to subsequent levels, and other resources rather than charging users for the app download. “App builders and advertisers are noticing that users are more likely to make in-app purchases because they’re already so invested in the experience by the time they’re offered something,” Milinovich says. In other words, apps need to hook the fish before they reel it in.
Writer’s Note: These do not appear in any particular order and are not my personal predictions.