U.S. retailers raked in $11.1 billion in sales on smartphones and tablets in the first quarter of 2015, up 52% from $7.3 billion in Q1 2014, according to the newly released “State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy - Q1 2015” report from digital measurement firm comScore Inc. In Q1 2015, sales on desktop/laptop computers grew 9% to $61.1 billion; overall digital sales (e-commerce and m-commerce combined) grew 14% to $72.2 billion, comScore reports.
In the first quarter, digital sales grew seven times faster than sales in brick-and-mortar stores, which increased only 2%, the report says.
The continuing shift to digital commerce is being driven by mobile devices, says Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore.
In Q1 2015, mobile sales accounted for 15.4% of digital sales, up from 11.5% in Q1 2014, Fulgoni adds. “We’ve reached the inflection point for m-commerce, everything that’s needed to happen for mobile commerce is in place,” says Andrew Lipsman, vice president of marketing and insights at comScore. “Mobile is now set for aggressive acceleration.”
Today, among numerous product categories, mobile commerce accounts for 37% of digital sales among toys and hobbies merchants, 31% jewelry and watches, 29% music/movies/video, 26% flowers and gifts, 26% tickets, 19% apparel and accessories, 17% books and magazines, 10% office supplies, and 10% consumer electronics, comScore says.
There currently is a large gap between how consumers use technology to shop and how they use technology to buy. 59% of all time spent with digital retail occurs on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), but only 15.4% of digital sales stem from mobile devices, comScore says. “There’s a huge gap in mobile realizing its sales potential,” Lipsman says. “Consumers say mobile is not as easy as desktop for purchasing, they are not able to see enough product detail, and they still worry about payment security.”
Mobile apps are becoming increasingly important for many retailers. For example, 75% of the time consumers spend on mobile devices with eBay Inc. occurs within an app (25% browser), 74% Amazon.com Inc., 72% Target Corp., 65% Macy’s Inc., 63% Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 45% Kohl’s Corp., 44% The Home Depot Inc., and 31% Best Buy Co., comScore finds.
Some chain retailers that align their mobile apps with store selling are seeing significant increases in app usage—some are seeing colossal increases. March 2015 over March 2014, monthly unique visitors to the mobile app of Kohl’s have soared a whopping 839%, Wal-Mart 533%, and Target Cartwheel 37%, comScore says.
The key to this strategy is offering consumers incentives via the mobile app to shop in-store, Lipsman says.
“Mobile technology can enhance in-store shopping for certain chain retailers and help boost in-store sales,” Lipsman tells GPShopper. “Ultimately, getting your app on your customers’ phones is more of a long-term strategic play that ensures you won’t lose market share as dollars increasingly flow to mobile. In a few years, mobile sales could be the difference between healthy versus razor-thin profits.”
comScore measures e-commerce and m-commerce based on its panel of 2 million Internet users worldwide. Data in the new report measures sales and activities at U.S. retailer web and mobile sites and mobile apps by consumers worldwide.
Follow Bill Siwicki on Twitter at @MobileSiwicki.