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Mobile shopping continues to soar

A person uses their smartphone while out shopping

There's no slowing mobile usage. Just ask Andrew Lipsman, vice president of marketing and insights at the measurement firm comScore. Lipsman told Internet Retailer that smartphone and tablet use is soaring so much, business owners will need to reconsider their online shopping model.

"Mobile is now the primary access point to online retail for most consumers," Lipsman said. "As a result, retailers really need to rethink how they deliver their online shopping experience."

According to comScore, which measures web and mobile usage, 56 percent of the time that the nation's consumers spent surfing various retail shops was done on mobile devices. The United Kingdom experienced similar trends. Mobile traffic to U.K. retailers surpassed the 50 percent barrier for all Web traffic for the first time in 2014. That number should continue to rise.

A report from Flurry Analytics found shopping apps on iOS and Android ran circles around other applications. Year-over-year usage increased 174 percent in 2014. Simon Khalaf, Flurry's CEO, told PC Magazine mobile shopping usage increased 220 percent on Android alone.

"Retailers can no longer have a single view of a customer starting with a desktop web site or a store," Chris Mason, chief executive of Branding Brand, told Internet Retailer. "Just like what happened with usage of Instagram and other social media players, retailers now have customers who only know the merchants from mobile. Mobile-first and mobile-only customers represent a significant pivot in online retail."

In a recent report from Branding Brand, the technology vendor revealed 26 of its retail clients experienced more than 50 percent of online from mobile devices. These 26 retailers earned a combined $180 million in web revenue in August 2014 alone, more than 27 percent of which came from smartphone and tablets.

A report from GlobalWebIndex found the average smartphone user spends 1.85 hours per day on their device, which is up about 40 minutes from 2012. However, GlobalWebIndex said some of the numbers are a bit skewed because emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa are using their smartphones more than three hours a day. Africans and Middle Easterners are using smartphones at a rapid pace because they are replacing their regular computer with handheld devices, according to the report.

Take the mobile-only consumer to the bank
It won't be long until there are U.S. consumers completing 100 percent of their shopping on a mobile device, according to Scot Wingo, chief executive with ChannelAdvisor, a firm that expedites retailer sales via web marketplaces such as Amazon.com.

"Frankly, all of us in e-retail have been surprised at how fast mobile has ascended," Wingo told Internet Retailer. "Two years ago, we all envisioned a multi-device world where people would discover on the smartphone, browse on the tablet, and land back on the desktop to buy."

Wingo noted the largest growth in shopping is from mobile-only consumers, and while there are still multi-device shoppers, many continue to lean toward more mobile usage.

What can retailers do to seize the mobile market?
Smartphones with larger screens could increase sales for online stores, which might be particularly true for retailers that can capitalize on the look of their goods. Mason said people who shop for clothes on a tablet were more likely to make a purchase than those shopping for apparel on a phone.

Retailers should consider making investments in their mobile sites in order to look the best for larger screens. They can also start utilizing new technology such as fingerprint scanning. Mason expects the number of mobile buyers to increase as they get "more and more comfortable buying things on their smartphones."

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