Online shopping has been an ingrained part of our culture for the better part of two decades now. It’s not hard to see why: it is convenient, proven, and in many cases, less expensive to boot. In fact, it’s the rare instance when you go to purchase something online and have hesitations. It’s simply become so commonplace that nobody gives it a second thought any more.
But the online shopping experience is changing.
The days of online shopping being the exclusive domain of Amazon and Ebay are behind us. From retail stores selling entire catalogs of products online (like popular retailer, J. Crew) to businesses operating solely in the E-commerce sphere (like clothing retailer, Boden), there are no shortage of options when it comes to online shopping. And the way that people are shopping online is changing as well – thanks to mobile.
The Second Screen No Longer Plays Second Fiddle
Not long ago, shopping online meant firing up your laptop (or dare we say, your desktop computer), opening your favorite browser, and finding your site of choice. You would then routinely go through the purchasing process, entering your credit card information, billing address, shipping address, and so forth. Whether you wanted to reserve airline tickets, pre-order concert tickets, book a hotel, or get a new pair of pants, the process was fairly routine – and somewhat boring. Now that our mobile devices are being used more frequently than our computers (and even our televisions), the shopping experience is changing.
One of the fundamental changes in online shopping that mobile devices make possible is that individuals no longer have to visit a retailer’s website at all to make purchases. And that’s because increasingly, online retailers are driving sales through mobile applications. The advantages that mobile apps offer over websites are many. For one, they can be tailored around a specific (and desired) task or goal. Whereas a website may have to serve multiple purposes, an app often can be focused around just one.
Additionally, apps offer certain practical benefits. Not only are they intuitive, but they can provide an incredibly rewarding user experience as well. When it comes to UX/UI design, apps are at the forefront, and fully take advantage of the touch-screen interface we have all become accustomed to. Purchasing can also be made a one-click affair in most cases, as the app “belongs” to the user. Though this is possible with a website, it’s burdensome – it requires a consumer to register for an account or log in. Apps bypass such hurdles.
Why Everyone is Going Mobile
The advent and increasing popularity of the in-app purchase is due to numerous factors, of course. One factor is the prevalence of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. As consumers go mobile, it only makes sense that companies would alter their online presence to account for this new medium. Go where the shoppers are, right? With billions of downloads in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play platform, the evidence is clear – consumers like apps and often prefer them to websites.
It’s also worth noting that carriers are offering more incentives than ever for people to ditch their laptops and desktops for mobile devices. Carriers such as T-Mobile offer free 4G LTE data for tablet users, so the second screen – whether a brand-new iPad Air or a hand-me-down – is always connected and ready for use. All of these things are helping turn the second screen into the primary screen in our everyday lives. No longer are they reserved for supplemental materials; they are, by all accounts, becoming the go-to media portal in most households in America.
Online Shopping: “Before Mobile” and “After Mobile”
It’s hard to overstate just how much of an impact online shopping has had on the culture. Entire industries have been grown from the ground up around the phenomenon. Billions have been made and once thriving businesses have found their proverbial wells dried up. E-commerce represents a paradigm shift in the economic landscape.
And yet, as important and monumental as online shopping was, it can be argued that it reaches its zenith with mobile shopping. With tablets and smartphones being ever-present in our daily lives, consumers have more power than ever. For the first time, people can buy anything at any time. Shopping will never be the same.