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US consumers not adopting mcommerce as quickly as counterparts elsewhere: report

October 1, 2012


Mcommerce adoption levels vary by country

American consumers lag behind their counterparts in Indonesia and Thailand when it comes to using their mobile phones to shop, according to a new survey from Rakuten.

The survey found that 15 percent of Indonesians and 13 percent of Thais shop from their handsets compared to just 8 percent of Americans and 8 percent of Brits. Americans are also lagging in adopting tablets for shopping, with 35 percent of Thais using their tablets for shopping, 19 percent of U.S. consumers and 18 percent of Italians.

“As much as there is an argument towards the growth of m-commerce with surging mobile/tablet sales and forecasts, US consumers are still not entirely sold on m-commerce and social shopping, even as other countries are well on their way to embracing m-commerce in a big way,” said Mark Kirschner, vice chief marketing officer of Rakuten Group, Boston.

“The problem is two-fold: as many retailers and companies have not yet developed a sensible, integrated mobile strategy, but more importantly in the U.S., a major concern for security around such activities is still prevalent with online consumers,”he said.

“However, the concern is not new as online security fears have existed since the early days  of online shopping, and are only overcome with companies winning the trust of their customers. The same cycle will happen with m-commerce, it’s just a matter of time.”

Tailored shopping experiences
Mobile traffic to retail sites is exploding. Rakuten’s own reports that its traffic from mobile devices has grown 109 percent in the past 12 months.

However, the results of the survey point to the need for retailers to tailor the mobile shopping experience for shoppers by providing new ways of searching and discovering products on the go, offering more mobile shopping incentives and ensuring mobile payments are secure and seamsless.

The main motivation for consumers in all the countries surveyed for not choosing to shop on a PC or laptop over a mobile device was the inferior shopping experience, which just under half of respondents in each country citing this as their main reason for not shopping via mobile.

In the United States, the second largest concern with mobile shopping is security, with 22 percent of respondents saying they is a big concern for them. In comparison, 17 percent of Thais and 14 percent of Japanese cite mobile security as a concern.

Social shopping
The survey also found that U.S. consumers are behind European countries when it comes to social shopping. Just 19 percent of U.S. consumers report having shared a product on social media compared with 50 percent in Spain and 47 percent in Italy. reports it has seen a 160 percent increase in registrants for its social shopping tool ShopTogether since November 2011.

“The results should tell U.S. merchants to really spend time thinking about how their m-commerce strategy works with their existing services,” Mr. Kirschner said.

“An integrated, easy-to-use m-commerce strategy is going to become an important, if not critical, part of the shopping experience,” he said.

“There are great examples of this happening already, with Rakuten’s mobile app, as well as mobile apps and services by other retailers (both traditional and online) that show that the time for m-commerce is now. As companies and retailers work to find ways to incorporate e-commerce into every part of our online lives, mobile commerce will grow with it.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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