“A nation addicted to smartphones” is how Ofcom summarises its findings from a recent piece of research, saying that 27% of all adults and almost half of teenagers now own a smartphone (a mobile which connects to the internet). Smartphone owning numbers have exploded in the past year, and are set to rise further as annual sales of smartphones are now higher than those for the standard version.
More internet users connect to the web via their mobile than a laptop (45% versus 38%), and the number is even higher among 16-24 yearold where 71% access the internet via phone.Smartphone usage is definitely here to stay and businesses are thinking through how they tap into the trend, whether it be for advertising their products, providing information, or directly selling goods online.
At the very least, websites must be simple enough to be quickly accessed. Consumers will rapidly lose patience if they have to wait for information to be downloaded. This means either having a site tailored to mobile usage, which automatically comes up when searched via phone, or having a link redirecting users from the main site to a mobile friendly one. Amazon and Tesco are good examples of a speedy tailored link. Asda’s site take an age to download.The other option is to provide an app, or application, which sits permanently on the phone for easy access to a specific activity.
Although most usage is still for socialising, downloading music, gaming, and searching for information, the IGD reckons that smartphones are starting to change the way groceries are bought online. According to their research, 1 in 10 online shoppers are using smartphones to shop. Ocado claims that 15% of customer checkouts during the first half of the year came via their smartphone app. Tesco has a handy app which allows shoppers to scan the barcode of a product on their phone whereupon it is automatically added to their online shopping basket.
As to future developments, the IGD predicts that tailored apps which build a relationship with individual consumers are the way to go.The time has probably come to view selling and marketing via the mobile phone as a crucial part of any business plan. The research finds that 81% of smartphone users never switch them off, even when they go to bed, and that huge numbers are happy to use the phone whilst socialising, at the meal table, and even in the bathroom.
Smartphone usage is now a part of life. Those businesses without a smartphone presence may find themselves competitively disadvantaged.