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The time consumers spend on mobile devices is increasing every day, making mobile a central channel for business activity.

As a result, an mobile strategy that drives results is essential for today’s businesses. Companies that don’t effectively engage customers on mobile channels will fall behind more innovative competitors.

Mobile usage has grown exponentially around the world, and it continues to accelerate. By the end of 2013, more than 1bn smartphone units will have been shipped worldwide.

More consumers have smartphones than ever before, meaning they have access to their favorite brands with the swipe of their fingers.

Read on for predictions of key mobile trends we expect to see in 2014, and how brands can take advantage of these consumer behaviors.

1. A mobile-first approach in 2014

2014 won’t be the first year predicted to be the year of mobile, nor will it be the last, but it will be the year that smartphone activity becomes the biggest online activity in the US.

As the consumer’s device of choice, mobile is almost always on hand. It’s the brand’s first point of contact with the consumer, but that doesn’t mean forcing them to walk around with the entire website in your pocket. Rather, the mobile experience needs to address the context of a mobile user.

The ubiquity of mobile will undoubtedly affect the way consumers expect to communicate with brands. For one, they’ll seek out visual connections, a trend driven by the popularity of image and video sharing apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine.

Increased time on mobile also means that consumers will demand a more personal customer experience. Data shows that 89% of consumers already desire a personalized mobile experience with brands. Brands will need to respond by using data to create an immersive experience for each customer. 

2. The ‘age of impatience’ demands speed

The continued expansion of free Wi-Fi and the massive adoption of mobile devices will make our world more connected than ever in 2014.

As a result, consumers have a shorter attention span and expect instant gratification. We’ve entered into an age of impatience, and brands need to design fast and optimized sites to gain a competitive edge and keep customers engaged.

Spinning wheels, slow load times and clunky user journeys will no longer be tolerated.

As such, mobile experiences in 2014 will be designed with the need for speed in mind.

This user experience will make the difference between brands that win with their users and those that lose out to the competition. 

3. Quality over quantity in the mobile app market

Apps will continue to grow in popularity in 2014, but consumers will become more selective and demanding when it comes to the apps they download.

The increased consumer demand for apps will lead to an increase in user expectations. Research has shown that 48% of users currently abandon apps that don’t satisfy them, and this year consumers will continue to demand more interesting and innovative app experiences.

Apps with fewer than four star ratings (even for updates) will not survive. To remain viable and in demand, apps must provide innovative and entertaining experiences, accepting that mobile sites are better-suited to quick actions and transactional tasks.

4. Mobile payments will finally take hold

The mobile payment space is becoming more competitive every day, but will mobile payments be the norm by the end of 2014?

Solutions like Google Wallet, PayPal, MasterCard’s MasterPass, Visa’s PayWave and others are revolutionizing how consumers pay for goods and services by offering a simple, safe, and quick transaction. 

50% of current smartphone users say they will use their mobile wallet for daily transactions by 2016, and by the end of 2014, we will be well on our way towards mass adoption.

5. If you can’t beat the showroomers, join 'em!

Retail brands can no longer deny that mobile is an integral part of the shopping journey for consumers. 

According to our own research, 70% of in-store shoppers in the US have their smartphones on them, and 30% actually have them in their hands while they browse.

In 2014, retailers will embrace these in-store mobile behaviors among consumers. Rather than discouraging price comparisons of in-store products to online, retailers will invest in creating compelling touch-screen experiences in the store that streamline browsing and provide seamless access to enhanced product information and social reviews.

Mobile strategy: the key to staying competitive

As mobile has moved from 'nice to have' to 'must have', businesses that don’t take advantage of the opportunity mobile gives them to reach customers will fall behind over the next 12 months and beyond.

Consumers will be more dependant than ever on their mobile devices in 2014, and they’ll abandon brands that don’t offer a seamless and exciting mobile experience.

Carin Van Vuuren

Published 2 January, 2014 by Carin Van Vuuren

Carin is Chief Marketing Officer at Usablenet and contributor to Econsultancy.

6 more posts from this author

Comments (19)

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Rob Parker / Parker Consulting

Great article! So true, the speed and usability of a website on all mobile devices is essential. Mobile payment and electronic payment are king! Besides, who uses actual cash anymore???

over 2 years ago

Mark Knight

Mark Knight, Marketing Co-ordinator at 3Squared

Quality over quantity - spot on. The App Store (and my phone!) is full of apps that will probably never be used.

Great article, mobile certainly isn't slowing down anytime soon.

over 2 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

I've got to echo Rob here, I think these are great predictions. As a consumer, I would like to see mobile sites being more usable and loading faster. As a retailer, we're working very hard on both of those.

In fact, I'm just finishing off a website performance specification for 2014, focused mostly on mobile, so it's great to hear others banging the same drum!

over 2 years ago

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Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

Agree with all the points raised. One thing I question is how many are merchandising mobile and desktop sites as one channel. Whilst a bricks and mortar store is easier to differentiate from online courtesy of tangible differences (i.e. physical vs virtual) so I believe mobile and desktop experiences will see marketers and merchandisers handling both as separate channels. Within mobile you then have smart phone, tablet, games systems, smart TVs etc so it will only become a bigger challenge. The very definition of e-commerce is continually being stretched.

At QS for example, we've seen vast differences in mobile usage from first click (PPC, SEO, Display etc) into website user journey and conversion. Sure we're all after omni-channel/multi-channel but we need to fully understand mobile before trying to blend channels into one seamless journey.

Where bricks and mortar is still ahead in terms of the sales process compared to online, so is desktop still years ahead of the mobile experience. I believe 2014 will see more levelling of understanding and execution in this respect.

I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how mobile interactions advance with the likes of Apple's iBeacon and the mobile NFC based payment push.

over 2 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Carin,

Nice blog, thanks for sharing your predictions.

I find mobile payment a minefield. There is massive potential, hence the big players all jostling for position and investing lots of money because it's potentially worth billions annually to them.

Whilst contactless cards/NFC work very well for low value everyday purchases (e.g. M&S food), the payment threshold is currently too low for it to have mass appeal to retail. When it gets up towards the £100 mark for individual transactions, that's when it gets exciting as that opens up a far wide range of products.

I'm interested, like Depesh, in seeing how ibeacons are used. Apple has steadfastly opted-out of the NFC push and ibeacons indicates that it won't ever change course. There are those who predict the death of NFC and those who still maintain it has legs for mass adoption. The biggest barrier has always been the cost of PoS upgrade to support NFC payment. However, HCE (supported by Google in Android 4.4 KitKat) might be the solution as it avoids reliance on the secure element. So any app on an Android device can emulate NFC smart card.

IMO, only when there is a solution that can be applied across all mobile OS will we have a game changer that means retailers will happily invest in thew required hardware/software. Until that day, it's a potentially costly investment to ensure mobile payment is compatible across all key OS devices.

What's your take on where mobile payment is heading in relation to NFC/BLE?

thanks
james

over 2 years ago

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Katherine Evans

A great article! The need for businesses to be aligned with the mobile world, in every way, is becoming more and more vital.

Accessibility to business for consumers is of utmost importance, so as well as making website responsive and making it easy to accept mobile payments, we must remember that consumers also want to be able to speak to their chosen business.

A mobile phone is first and foremost a device for talking, so businesses need to ensure they are 'mobile-friendly' in all senses of the word, including providing a mobile friendly telephone number.

Higher rate numbers, such as 0845, can cost a mobile caller up to 40 pence per minute. Businesses have many other options available to them so that they can appear conscientious by providing a mobile friendly number, such as a 01, 02 or 03 number!

over 2 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

@catherine, you might be interested to know that some recent statistics show that smartphones are actually not predominately a device for talking, more time is spent on apps and messaging.

I also believe there are moves being made by the telecoms regulators to improve 0845 charges for mobile

over 2 years ago

Carin Van Vuuren

Carin Van Vuuren, Chief Marketing Officer at Usablenet

James,

Thanks for your comments.

We frequently have discussions with clients around two aspects of mobile payments. The first is when mobile payments are used as part of a mobile site or app transaction, and the second where clients are looking for on-premises payments. The NFC discussion typically occurs in this second area.

We do feel that real success in this area will be based on user adoption as opposed to vendor promotion or even the number of facilities providing. Companies like Square have shown that when you make a simple solution for both merchant and customer with benefits associated with ease of payments, there can be strong consumer take up. Looking at the current landscape of NFC for larger purchases, there is not a clear offering and your vision of a cross OS solution is one that fits the typical model one would expect to become a consumer choice. However (as Apple has shown) if one vendor of a major device such as Samsung could create something powerful for its user group, that user group will adopt it. It seems reasonable that the market will have many payment solutions until consolidation starts to happen and a clear lead platform emerges.

With regard to the first area of mobile payments offered at the point of check out on mobile sites and apps: this will be driven by brands offering these to consumers while vendors such as a Google and MasterCard educate the consumer about their availability and use. These solutions, much like PayPal's early advances on the web are driven by ease of use and security. Consumers definitely want a secure and simple way to pay for items. Vendors such as Paypal, Google and MasterCard are offering this, and we are seeing interest with brands wanting to provide their customers with additional payment options for mobile site and apps.

Best,
Carin

over 2 years ago

Jay North

Jay North, Spokesperson at My Factoring Network

Very nice blog and strong points. People want to use their smartphone to do almost anything that is possible,probably because its easy to use.In addition, mobile apps are usually free from annoying ads. People love their phone like their babies and since phones are extremely useful, and a means of talking , messaging to loved ones, there is an emotional attachment with it at subconscious level .

over 2 years ago

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rohit

In 2010. the mobile platform attained the 1080p resolution, but this is not over yet. I think smartphone making companies will work on the affordable 4K resolution screens which can be embedded in tablets and high end smartphone.
we must not be surprised if Samsung Galaxy S6 will have the 4k resolution screen. :)

over 2 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Carin,

Thanks for the reply and your view on adoption.

I think you're right that the market will be driven by user adoption but to get to user adoption there has to be a solution that makes sense, which falls on the shoulders of the big players to create it. I don't perceive an innate need amongst consumers (myself included) for a mobile wallet - there has to be a killer value proposition for me to consider putting all my payment processing via an app rather than my card. That surely is around loyalty and rewards.

The market is incredibly fragmented, which in my opinion means confusing for consumers. I can see the logic of the big financial brands like PayPal, Visa, Mastercard etc dominating mobile payment as consumers have confidence in them for payment. I know Google is huge and has major market power but Google Checkout bombed and i'm not convinced Google Wallet will have the influence to make people take it seriously when the likes of Mastercard Masterpass and Visa V.me can be used both for contactless in-store + online/in-app for mobile checkout. No doubt now i'll be proved wrong in 12 months' time!

I see a few options emerging for retailers:

1) Cover bases for mobile site and in-app checkout - Masterpass, PayPal, V.me etc - cater for as many people as possible & streamline checkouts for the best possible UX.
2) Integrate loyalty scheme across all channels so all payments contribute.
3) Create a white label version of one of the existing mobile wallets and build it around a loyalty scheme (then integrate with apps like Passbook to provide OS specific compatibility for vouchers).

I'm not hugely convinced by 3) as I think it works best for retailers with regular purchases. Starbucks mobile payment solution has worked brilliantly because for most people it's a daily purchase. Look at a big department store and you're talking 1/2 purchases per year - much harder to make a mobile wallet seem relevant.

The end game is surely a mass market wallet provided by someone like Visa, or maybe even a collaboration like Isis in the US, that is multi-merchant enabling consumers to store their loyalty profile for each retailer within the wallet so that any purchase made contributes to the loyalty scheme, with data fed back to merchants' CRM to enable them to do the data analysis to personalise marketing and promotions. Could this mean that there's a curveball waiting from the big loyalty schemes like Nectar in collaboration with one of the payment giants?

It's going to be an interesting year for mobile payment.

Thanks
james

over 2 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

James/Carin,
I'd be interested in your thoughts on the importance of "single click" payment methods to mobile, where you save your previously used card details. I know it's not the universal panacea of a retailer-independant wallet, but is perhaps still important?
You don't want to enter your card details on my mobile checkout? Ok, well, save them when you're on my desktop/tablet site for later use on mobile.

Or, do you think it is only of limited use?

over 2 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Stuart,

Very good question.

I've seen enough evidence to suggest that shorter checkout are more important for mobile than desktop i.e. the more clicks, the more data to enter, the more pages to load etc the more likely someone is to give up or for an error to occur e.g. connection lost.

My view is this - single click is a positive (caveat: if done well!). I think there is a higher security concern around entering card information on a mobile device than desktop (i wish i could remember the report i read that qualifies that view). So providing a payment mechanism where you simply have to select which card to pay with and previously stored details are used, can only be a positive.

An ideal solution is to give people choice. So you can store your card details securely on my website and use them via any device + you can pay by e.g. PayPal.

There are also other options retailers can consider to streamline checkouts where there aren't stored card details. Card.io is one solution, works across both iOS and Android. m:Cypher from Actus mobile is another, helps avoid the massive pain that is 3D Secure on mobile for returning customers.

What's your take? Where is Schuch focusing on m-payment or is that too commercially sensitive to share?

cheers
james

over 2 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Hi James,
We're going to focus on making the checkout as simple as possible, and certainly mobile friendly. We will have stored payment details universally across the new responsive site. Ultimately, that'll make life easier for the greatest number of people.

I am keen to look at other payment solutions, but I can't say I would really know which to choose yet. I haven't looked in to it enough.

Cheers,
Stuart

over 2 years ago

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Neha Sharma

Everybody wants to use latest technology through mobile so mobile technology is growing rapidly but we should understand that how to make mobile apps user friendly............that is the big question.

over 2 years ago

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Matt Baumber

Agree with Neha.

Whilst technology is moving forward, I think it is going to be more important to use increased insight within existing communications channels such as SMS and Apps to communicate more effectively.

Now that we have a huge amount of data available, it is more important to identify what it useful, then make the most of the tools needed to improve communications.

A focus on improved practice will see the best results in 2014 for sure. Now that mobile is proving to be a key channel the biggest challenge is ensuring the consumer is receiving information that is of use, creates interest or fulfills a need.

Opportunities that in-app communication provides will be useful.

The ability to deliver relevant, rich and exciting communications through apps and developing 2 - way communications for consumers within apps.

This will ultimately bring brands closer to their desired audience.

over 2 years ago

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Leesa

Device proliferation and increasing smartphone usage have paved the way for smarter exploitation of mobility among businesses. It is now the age of local search, context based mobile experiences, sentiment analysis based marketing, wearables and cloud based marketing.

over 2 years ago

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Avinash Kumar, Student at SELF

Good Nice article.

www.ramnavami2014.com

over 2 years ago

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andew kal, Manager at www.03numbersforfree.co.uk

Wtih my experience in eCommerce sites i have noticed that people would view the product on mobile phone but would order it either via phone or pc/tablets. We have seen a rise in sales more from tablets then mobiles phones.

This partly could be because retailer like us don't save card details on our system as the cost of being fully pci compliant is high.

Maybe the turn over is high where the checkout process is shorter and card details are saved.

over 2 years ago

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