The Christmas of mobiles – Google and PayPal on why having a mobile site is more important than ever

Don’t have a mobile site? Then you’re probably going to have a pretty poor Christmas.

New research from both Google and PayPal suggest businesses need to start getting their mobile sites in order, with the payments company revealing the value of retail purchases on mobiles has multiplied by 30 to $1 billion in just two years.

Google’s own research has found that while Christmas-related searches start popping up in November, half of that traffic switches to mobile devices in the days leading up to Christmas.

“We think there’ll be a million more mobile devices in the market between now and Christmas, with the iPad Mini, the iPhone 5 and different Android devices,” Google’s head of retail, Ross McDonald, told SmartCompany.

“The good news is that one out of three companies have optimised, mobile websites, but it also means that many businesses don’t.”

The growth in mobile is one of several trends revealed in PayPal’s latest Secure Insight report, which forecasts $5.6 billion worth of retail purchases made on mobiles in 2012 – up from $155 million in 2010.

The report found a huge amount of emphasis on technology in the buying process: 92% of Australians use desktops to shop, while 47% use smartphones and 25% use tablets.

A key finding is that more consumers are visiting and spending more time in total on the iPad, rather than a desktop. A product is purchased using a mobile device every two seconds.

And while most companies are aware of the fact that websites are used as a research tool, this finding may be a surprise – a massive 95% of Australian consumers say online discovery has resulted in a purchase both online and offline.

The source of online discovery is varied. The report found “search engines” were cited by 62% of users who found eBay in some way.

These methods of discovery are important, says McDonald. He told SmartCompany that while Christmas searches have already started, mobiles will become even more important in the month ahead.

“Mobile was hitting about 30% of our search query base, but the number of searches we’re getting on mobiles double every year.”

“By the time we get to Christmas it could even be close to half of all searches.”

This is important, McDonald says, as businesses need to be aware of how the consumer is changing their spending habits in the lead-up to Christmas.

While customers may be searching for specific products right now at home, as Christmas draws near, those searches change. They start searching for store names, locations, and opening hours because that’s the information they need on the run.

He says you’re in trouble if your mobile site doesn’t have that information.

“If you’re a physical store then you need location and opening hours, that’s what people want. But if you’re an online only store, then you need to be looking at what types of products and brands you sell.”

“We actually think now is a good time to start with this – it doesn’t take too long for these types of sites to be turned around.”

But businesses won’t get any success unless they understand how important mobile has become to the entire retail process, McDonald says.

“I don’t think Australian businesses have realised how central mobile has become to Australian shopping – we have some of the highest smartphone penetration [rates] in the world.”

“We’re leading the world in terms of consumer adoption.”




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