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Getting old people to take the tablets

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It may not have been that happy a Christmas for many retailers on the high street, but luckily for us at Internet Retailing Towers the online side of Christmas sales has done very well. And for those of us in the Mobile dungeon of Internet Retailing Towers it has been especially good.

Mobile shopping in the run up to Christmas has been rampant, with Affiliate Window finding that over the whole of December in the UK a fifth of all online commerce traffic came from mobile, with actual mobile transactions that month hitting 2.5million – compared with just 785,000 in December 2011.

But the real kicker here is that the amount of m-commerce being conducted from tablets is rocketing at the fastest rate of all. According to eDigitalResearch, 30% of Christmas shoppers went online with a smartphone and 21% from a tablet. This is backed up by Affiliate Window, which suggests that 59% of sales on mobile devices came from tablets – mainly iPads.

In the run up to Christmas, much of the talk was about how consumers would be using it largely to research products and then either buy them via a computer or more likely head to a store and buy them there. This seems not be have been the case, with a surprising number of people completing the shopping journey on their mobile device from start to finish.

And this could well be setting the trend for the year ahead. Once the actual Christmas shop was over, even more consumers turned to their mobile devices – many of which were new on Christmas day – to start browsing and shopping in front of the TV while the shops were shut.

Driven by new gadget syndrome and helped along by the fact that most retailers January sales started before Christmas, mobile shoppers hit the m-commerce trail with ardour on Boxing Day, making it a bigger mobile shopping day than cyber Monday in the run up to Christmas.

This is all encouraging news and marks out how, year by year, mobile is becoming the shopping channel of choice for many consumers. However, there is still much to do. Most consumers responding to eDigitalResearch’s study suggested that they would do more mobile shopping if the experience was quicker, easier and more tailored to the device.

Similarly, research in the US by BIO Agency finds that, while 142million Americans do spend money through mobile each month, 41% of the mobile population still don’t – presenting a massive opportunity to retailers, but also beggaring the question, why not?

According to BIO the experience is a big factor, but the biggest issue is age. Anyone under 25 is happy to do mobile shopping. Anyone older less so and you can forget the over 55s.

So the key thing then is to look at how to engage these older shoppers to start to spend on mobile. And this is hard. While the experience issue can and are being addressed, issues of culture and willingness are much harder to get to grips with and is going to be one of the key Views of m-retailing in this coming year.

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