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... while mobile and mobile social commerce set to contribute a third of US Yuletide takings

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Dedicated mobile shoppers are set to contribute 28% or $127 billion of the $447 billion the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts US consumers will spend this holiday season, according to a survey by IDC ahead of the Yule Tide rush. The study also finds that more than one third of smartphone-carrying consumers – who represent 24% of all US consumers – are ready to use their mobile devices in ways that transform how they shop everywhere and, in particular, how they shop in retail stores.

New behaviors facilitated by mobility, all of which can take place in stores, also include searching for price and product information, checking merchandise availability, and comparing prices at nearby stores, browsing product reviews, and purchasing goods.

Consumers are also set to use multiple channels sequentially as they move from Web to store, giving way to concurrent omnichannel behaviors as consumers bring their comfortable use of m-commerce with them into the store. These new behaviors will exert pressures that weaken the store's immediate influence on purchase decisions "at the shelf."

The survey was designed to explore how consumers' growing comfort with mobile commerce and social media commerce (sm-commerce) will play out in the 2010 holiday shopping season. According to results, m-commerce and sm-commerce are giving consumers greater advantage as they engage retailers on their own terms – even inside the store – within arm's reach of merchandise at the moment of their buying decision.

Most of the m-commerce boom will come from mobile shopping “warriors” – hyper connected individuals – and “warrior wannabies” – the more moderately connected – says IDC.

"MSM-commerce introduces a new consumer shopping model which changes how consumers shop, not simply when and where they shop, as e-commerce has already enabled," adds Greg Girard, program director, Retail Merchandise Strategies at IDC Retail Insights. "It is clear that MSM-commerce already has an influence on consumers' perception of brand value and their shopping intentions. We believe the retailers with superior mobile and social media commerce strategies in place will have a decided advantage."

As revealed in the survey, mobile shopping warriors and wannabies represent the vanguard for the new age of m-commerce and, of particular interest, results suggest that the early maturity adult audience is an important part of this vanguard. Adults aged 25 to 44 years comprised nearly two-thirds of the mobile shopping warrior group while they comprised slightly less than half of consumers surveyed. In addition, adults aged 45 to 54 years were the most inclined to use their mobile information advantage; for example, asking for a better price to match one they find on their mobile device while in the store.

For retailers, the impact of mobile shopping warriors will be significant this holiday season as the survey reveals, across the board, retailers’ m-commerce competence greatly influences consumer perceptions about the brand. Further, an easy-to-use mobile website significantly influences consumers, across all age groups, on where to shop this holiday season. Results also suggest that while the influence of social media outlets on buying decisions is growing, retailers continue to serve as the most important source of information on which consumers make their final purchase decisions. As such, retailers who have met the critical need for consumer-generated Web site content and easy-to-use product information will have the advantage this holiday season.

IDC also found that, in general, social media doesn’t have widespread influence on shopping decisions but friends influence one another’s shopping behavior on social networks and sites that have earned consumer trust will influence this behavior as well.

"Consumers' increased comfort with using their smartphones to go online anywhere combined with their plans to use them more in the 2010 holiday season signals the beginning of a significant shift away from the capacity of the store channel to hold sway over consumers as they move to a purchase decision," concluded Girard.
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