Amazon has announced that over the past 12 months purchases made from mobile devices generated US$1 billion in sales, representing almost 3.5% of its total net sales during that period. $1 billion is clearly a large amount of money and 3.5% not an insignificant share.
Furthermore, Jeff Bezos indicated that smartphones have had a strong role in driving mobile commerce to date, which is not surprising given the larger screen size and better resolution provides an improved product browsing experience over standard phones:-
"The leading mobile commerce device today is the smartphone, but we're excited by the potential of the new category of wireless tablet computers. Over time, tablet computers could become a meaningful additional driver for our business."
Unfortunately, there was little further information relating to the type of products being purchased via mobile, e.g. whether or not it includes the sale of ebooks, or the % mix between digital content (e.g. MP3) versus physical goods?
However, this announcement, combined with the increasing volume of web traffic generated by mobile phones
, and the fact that that the global smartphone installed base is set to expand from 458 million in 2010 to 1.1 billion by 2015
, has a clear implication for web retailers that are seeing increasing mobile traffic to their sites: Integrate mobile to your digital sales process, because a growing share of consumers are using their phones to buy stuff!
Perhaps not surprisingly, Amazon has been ahead of the curve with respect to mobile commerce for sometime. It currently offers dedicated smartphone applications for the major smartphone platforms (Android, Blackberry, iPhone, and iPod Touch) in the US. The absence of support for Symbian is clearly a consequence of Symbian’s low penetration in the US
. Amazon has also designed mobile optimised sites for smartphones and in June 2009 Amazon’s subsidiary A9.com acquired Snaptell, a company focused on image recognition and visual search technology which allows users to take photos of products and find pricing information, rather like Google’s Goggles
(still Beta) and ScanBuy
. Linking the image capture capability on camera phones with off-board product recognition, price comparisons and product reviews can help to convert the handset into a powerful commerce device in my opinion. Perhaps most importantly though, Amazon allows users to register their payment details to their account and to make purchases using a single click, through its 1-Click ordering system, which eliminates the inconvenience of manually entering payment details.
For many web retailers adapting for mobile is not likely to be a priority yet – few will have forgotten the dotcom bubble bursting. However, I believe this announcement by Amazon provides an indication of the potential size of the missed opportunity if they do fail to address evolving consumer behaviour.