Mcommerce in the region still trails more developed markets
eMarketer expects nearly 190 million people in Western Europe to buy via digital channels in 2014, and a greater percentage of those purchases will be made on mobile devices, thanks to widespread increases in smartphone and tablet usage.
However, compared with more developed markets such as the US and UK—where mobile platforms are expanding and playing an increasingly vital role in a purchase journey that incorporates multiple digital devices—continental Europe isn’t yet exhibiting the same degree of sophistication, according to a new eMarketer report, “Western Europe Mcommerce: Rising Mobile Usage Will Boost Today’s Embryonic Markets.” Even as mobile shopping behaviors have become more varied and extensive, relatively few people in Western Europe actually bought via mobile in 2013, and many transactions were for low-priced items such as books, music, games and apps.
Confidence in online shopping differs in the main regional markets. For example, the “International Communications Market Report 2013” from the UK’s Office of Communications noted rather dramatic variations across EU-5 countries in the share of adult internet users who were nervous about paying for goods online. The UK had by far the highest confidence levels, with 70% saying they felt secure when making online payments and fewer than 10% saying they disagreed. Respondents in France, by contrast, were the least trusting of online payments, with the proportion of those who felt insecure (29%) not much lower than the share who felt secure (38%).
As for reassuring buyers that they’ve made the best choice, it’s no surprise that across the EU-5 the most common mobile purchases belong to categories that usually present few surprises—at least when buyers stick to recognized brands and trusted suppliers. According to comScore MobiLens, in March 2013 these included clothes and accessories, books, electronics and appliances, and tickets. Other items that lent themselves to mobile buying were daily deals and discount coupons, gift certificates, and convenience purchases such as groceries and takeaway meals.
Many sectors can do well with mobile commerce, but some will take longer to reap the benefits. Some items seem tailor-made for mobile purchasing. In most EU-5 markets, for example, it’s currently easier to buy services and virtual items—such as games, music or tickets—than physical goods via mobile device. Yet some physical categories, including books, clothing and shoes, are already seeing big rewards from mcommerce.