Yesterday, I wrote a piece for International Business Times focusing on the growth of US online retailers in the EU market. Some of the figures are worth repeating to set up our discussion here today. US e-retailers had collective sales of $26.1 billion in 2011 up from $20.6 billion a year earlier. The 2011 numbers accounted for 25% of sales in that year for the Top 400 online retailers in Europe, growing from 23.4% from the previous year.
This not only brings into focus the viability of ecommerce but the growing (successful) presence of US companies in the EU market. In that piece, I source a quote from Christine Bardwell from the research and consulting firm IDC who stresses the importance of developing web strategies specific to each country and for retailers to make themselves locally relevant to shoppers in each country. This supports the underlying theme and specific recommendations of part 3 of the “Reframing series” posted here yesterday.
Looking deeper at ecommerce though, mobile shopping is carving out a growing segment of the industry. By now we know mobile across the board is simply exploding around the world. Adoption rates of smartphones globally are increasing every month and the US has just crossed the 50% threshold. We have covered the SEO implications of the rise in mobile on this blog to a great degree and will continue to do so as the importance of mobile in new arenas continuously evolves. Now with ecommerce, mobile shopping is expected to account for $163 billion in worldwide sales by 2015 which is12% of global ecommerce revenue, according to ABI Research. This brings to light increased opportunity for SEO and social media to optimize retailers’ web presence and its functionality to drive these sales.
With mobile though, there are new and different possibilities. The developing trend of mobile commerce enables retailer marketing professionals and the SEO companies supporting them to engage customers and deliver a unique experience on the device. Retailers across all categories can capitalize on this to drive positive experiences with their brand, increase loyalty, and drive sales. El Corte Ingles, Europe’s largest department store and fourth largest globally, recently made the push for mobile optimization launching a more engaging mobile site. The site utilizes HTML5, advanced scrolling, tap-tap zoom capability, full mobile commerce functionality, and efficient browsing by category that does not require loading additional pages and does not slow down the experience.
The direction taken by El Corte Ingles represents one avenue, on-site design development. Others include increasing on and off-site optimization specifically for improving search engine rankings, social media management, as well as app and game integration. The door has been opened now for other retailers and businesses with an online presence to follow suit. Self magazine announced yesterday a social game played through Facebook that engages users in gameplay related to health and wellness, beauty, fashion, and fitness, all areas the magazines speaks to. The game received considerable sponsorship from major brands and will be seen as a test of sorts for the industry. Many will be tracking how it performs. For more on gaming, Anthony discusses the wisdom of its integration for branding.
With the announcement about the new iPad officially made, and the well-sought details regarding its attractive new specs and features finally revealed to the eagerly-awaiting public, it only makes sense for everyone to continue their speculations into what Apple will next be introducing to its many offerings of mobile device-related services.
What is the latest item on the rumor mill? It is about a new section in the company’s App Store that will be titled “Catalogs.” The purpose of this section will be to aggregate a host of other apps which in the past have appeared in categories like Lifestyle, according to a TechCrunch article that came out today. The article also reports that news about the App Store’s new category came from a group of developers who had created the app Catalog Spree, which was moved from the App Store due to its similarities with the rumored new section.
Of course, the discovery of new apps in the App Store would be a great main benefit arising from the introduction of a “Catalogs” section. However, what many people are focusing on is the potential avenues for growth in mobile commerce; an App Store section like this could be one more step towards shopping for – and purchasing – physical items straight from a mobile device.
Apple already offers a nicely streamlined and well-managed mobile payment processing service for its own ecosystem, allowing users to make music, app, and in-app purchases on their Apple devices with great ease. Extending this to a service that would allow customers to make all types of purchases through their Apple devices would be a huge step forward in the world of e-commerce. Not only that, if the new iPad sells incredibly well – as it is expected to – this could provide ample opportunities for businesses, as well as Apple, to receive great benefits in profitability.
Of course, this is all conjecture for now. But, it definitely brings one question to the forefront: is your business ready for mobile commerce? With the increasingly-likely advent of the mobile purchasing of goods, all businesses should seriously consider the optimization of their websites for mobile accessibility one of the top priorities in their SEO campaigns.