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Survey finds mixed mobile commerce opportunities for retail

Australian consumers are more mobile than ever, but mobile commerce opportunities are still mixed for retailers, according to a new report.

In Deloitte’s third annual Mobile Consumer Survey, the professional services firm found that Australian mobile phone ownership has climbed to 84 per cent, 5 per cent higher than last year and ahead of the global average of 81 per cent. This high saturation is affecting the Australian retail consumer industry in different ways.

While the uptake of the Internet of Things is disappointingly slow, mobile commerce is providing more opportunities in the food and beverage sector, according to Vanessa Matthijssen, national consumer products leader.

The path to purchase is already decidedly digital, according to Matthijssen. Over the last eight years, app stores have generated tens of billions of dollars in revenues via download sales and in-app payments. The most successful apps have been downloaded over a billion times.

But even here, the picture of mobile commerce isn’t totally clear. While most survey respondents said apps were their preferred channel for smartphone-related entertainment, 71 per cent said they prefer to use their mobile browser versus an app for their online shopping.

Deloitte also found that only 9 per cent of Australians use their mobile device for payments, either through near field communication or purchasing through apps and browsers. (The survey was taken just at the time ANZ was releasing ApplePay.) The primary reasons Australians are not yet engaging in mobile payment are a perceived lack of security and a lack of benefits.

Compared to last year, however, Australian mobile commerce users are less concerned about these two barriers. In 2015, 44 per cent of respondents said they were concerned about lack of security, while 36 per cent said the same in 2016. Similarly, the lack of benefits response reduced from 41 per cent in 2015 to 35 per cent this year.

“Consumers nowadays seamlessly interact and switch between digital channels and the physical stores. Alternative payment platforms leveraging mobile have started to become the norm,” Matthijssen said.

The survey also found as consumers and business have become more accepting of biometrics, they are being used for higher-value in-store and app payment verification, and the fingerprint can now be used to authorise a transaction as high as the user’s credit card limit.

“The next exciting wave that builds on the mobile consumption growth, is the connection the consumer will have with the physical product. Particularly when the product truly matters to them,” Matthijssen said.

Even though adoption of connected home devices that allow consumers to interact with their dishwasher, security and lights has been slow so far, Matthijssen still sees opportunities for retailers if they focus on connected products in areas where consumers have indicated to have a clear information hunger.

For example, the survey shows Australian consumers lead the world in terms of fitness band adoption, with 18 per cent using a chosen tracker compared to 9 per cent globally. Around 11 per cent of Australian respondents to the survey indicate they plan to purchase a fitness band in the next 12 months.

Australian’s interest in health is extending to the food industry, particularly in the area of better understanding the implications of our food intake, according to Matthijssen.

“Imagine what could happen if we apply the concept of connected product to areas that the consumer clearly does care about, such as personal health and food.

“That future might paint a powerful picture of being able to scan certain food and beverage products with our smartphone and have the nutrients, implications and outcomes revealed in terms of what exercise or steps should accompany the meal or what balance is required for optimal wellbeing and personal benefit.

“In an increasingly competitive market with brand equity at its lowest point, this is the time for consumer businesses to consider value added digital services to the consumer, and the way in which digital interactions can take consumer engagement at the point of sale or point of consumption to another level,” she said.

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