According to the latest PayPal mCommerce Index: Trends Report 2018, although mobile commerce may have begun as a convenient way to shop on-the-go, it has quickly developed into an entertainment experience for many Australians.
The report found that two thirds (67%) of Aussie smartphone owners browse shopping sites just for fun on their mobile, with 46% of consumer respondents browsing retail sites for entertainment at least once a week. “Making mobile shopping more fun could be a boon for Aussie retailers,” says PayPal.
PayPal says Australians are also turning to mobile commerce to unwind, making “retail therapy” a reality for mobile shoppers, with 44% of consumer respondents stating they shop online for relaxation and leisure.
Elaine Herlihy, director of Customer Engagement, PayPal Australia, said the behavioural shift towards retailtainment is a critical insight for retailers looking to create meaningful engagements with consumers in digital channels.
“The data shows that simply having an online offering is no longer enough for retailers. Australians are demanding mobile-first experiences and are gravitating towards mobile shopping experiences that are fun and engaging.
“Reading and writing reviews, product research and sharing images of virtual try-ons is an enjoyable pastime for many Australians, particularly with younger shoppers.
“With 67% of Australians digital window shopping for fun on their mobiles, and 77% of those making impulse purchases when they do, Australian retailers can no longer view their mobile offering as a transactional storefront, but as a platform to deliver enjoyment, entertainment and social sharing.”
The research reveals that the popularity of shopping for fun is particularly prevalent among younger generations, with 69% of Gen Z respondents (22 years and under) engaging in mobile shopping as a leisure activity – making it as popular as watching television (69%) and more than twice as popular as watching or playing sport (31% and 27% respectively) for this cohort.
According to PayPal’s research, while Aussies are wholeheartedly embracing mobile shopping, a number of barriers persist as counterpoints to its convenience and ease-of-use.
Almost 9 in 10 Australians (88%) say they are concerned about not being able to identify the correct size of an item, and 82% said that even if the size was correct, they are unsure of whether the item will look good on them or in their home.
PayPal says augmented reality (AR) takes elements of the real world and combines them with digital information.
“For example, in an mCommerce setting, car enthusiasts can use their mobile to see how new wheels will look on their own car before they make a purchase, or consumers can super-impose glasses frames on their face to see what suits them best,” the report says.
“By allowing virtual ‘try before you buy’, AR answers a key consumer concern as online shoppers still struggle with the uncertainty of what online products will look like in their homes when they are worn. In fact, almost nine-tenths (88%) of respondents said they were concerned about which size will fit them and size variation between their brands.”
On AR, the Trends Report also found that:
- Fifty-one percent of consumer respondents want more retailers to integrate AR into their online offering;
- Twelve percent say they would share virtual ‘try on’ images with their friends on social media, providing talkability and added exposure for retailers;
- Forty-four percent of consumers said they’d be more likely to purchase online if they could virtually see what an item looked like on them or in their home before buying; and
- Thirty-nine percent felt virtual try-on experiences would reduce the number of returns.
But, the research reveals that only 5% of consumer respondents have used augmented reality. This is in-line with the 5% of Australian small to medium businesses who currently offer an AR experience, although one in three (32%) business respondents are currently developing or intending to develop an AR experience.
“Retailers who have taken the next step in their digital presence are integrating emerging technologies like augmented reality to increase engagement and drive social sharing. With 44% of Australians reporting they’d be more likely to purchase online if they could virtually ‘try before they buy’, augmented reality gives retailers an interactive way to provide confidence prior to purchase,” said Herlihy.
Ethan Nyholm, chief executive of Australian-owned premium tech and fashion accessories brand STM Goods, says the AR experience on its native app has increased both customer engagement and sales, and allowed the brand to communicate key value points while providing a functional, yet enjoyable experience.
“Enabling customers to virtually try on our products through our AR experience has allowed us to communicate key value points while engaging customers at all levels of our distribution chain,” he said.
“Since integrating AR, we have seen an uplift in both customer engagement and in sales, and we attribute this to giving customers the opportunity to explore our products and truly appreciate the thought that goes into their design.”
The research also reveals that Australians cite fashion (62%), furniture and homeware (47%) and accessories (36%) as the product categories they are most interested in shopping for through an AR experience.
PayPal says another burgeoning technology, voice assistants, is already making a mark on the retail landscape, with one-in-five Australians (20%) having made retail enquiries via a voice assistant such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant.
And more than half (54%) of consumer respondents believe that as the technology develops, voice-assisted shopping will be useful and a further 14% believe voice-assisted shopping will be a game changer.
But the trends report found that while only 4% of Australian businesses have presently integrated voice assistants into their customer offering, an additional 15% are exploring how they can use the technology to drive sales, and a further 27% are considering the technology, but are unsure how they could use or implement it.
PayPal says that one critical barrier to driving sales through voice assistants is uncertainty around payment security, with a third (32%) of Aussies saying they would be concerned about giving their voice assistant their payment details.