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Emerging Trends In Mobile Internet For 2016

by Kenny Ye, MD, UCWeb India September-2016

The 2015 calendar draws to a close, and, as is ritualistic practice, we are all talking about trends and technologies that will shape 2016. While everything we can possibly conceive has been spoken and written about, I cannot reiterate enough the importance of landscape-transforming technology that is mobile internet. It’s the ‘3-foot device’- most peoples’ smartphones are never more than three feet away from them. It’s the most intimate and individual piece of personal technology people own. And it is transforming the way we live, eat, socialize, play, and even sleep.

According to research firm IDC’s latest report, more than two billion people will be using mobile devices to access the internet in 2016. As is reflected in our company’s growth – the three most populous emerging markets of China, India and Indonesia are leading the way. All these three countries have a total population of 2.8 billion, accounting for over one third of the world’s population.

2015 was a big year for mobile with announcement that mobile traffic finally overtook desktop traffic in at least 10 different countries. So, what are the trends we should be paying attention to in 2016?

Mobile browsing  

Firstly, let’s look at mobile browsing. The mobile and desktop experiences are quite dissimilar, so to assume the mobile browsing experience should more or less mimic the desktop experience with only a few changes is incorrect. Companies are realizing that the search interface was designed for typing and scrolling, downsizing that to adapt to a smartphone is a road to disaster. Mobile-first is now a strategy of many emerging companies. Players are also likely to come up with fully optimized, fine-tuned mobile search that enlists the help of third party apps to not just recommend a particular product, but find it in the customer’s preferred color, size, location, price range and much more.

Mobile commerce  

Mobile is also changing the way businesses operate and serve customers. And nowhere have we seen an impact as profound as retailing. As e-commerce becomes larger portion of total retail sales, mobile commerce will become a larger portion of e-commerce sales.  

The consumers’ buying behavior is changing at an unprecedented pace. Shoppers now have instant visibility into pricing, competing products, inventory levels, locations and user reviews anytime and anywhere. Traditional marketing strategies simply won’t work anymore.

Yet, smartphones remain a browsing tool rather than a buying tool. Often smartphones are used for quick searches and discovery; tablets are used for in-depth immersive product research, and desktops/laptops for purchases. Conversion rates on smartphones are lower than those on desktops. We will see a dramatic shift in this with m-commerce overshadowing e-commerce in the quarters to come. Mobile commerce represents 34 percent of the world’s e-commerce transactions for now; the figure is expected to rise to 47 percent by 2018.

As mobile alters the retail landscape, more and more social media apps will integrate online buying into its experience, allowing users to shop without leaving the app. Most biggies are experimenting with the ‘Buy’ button. Buy buttons linked to an existing Facebook or Google profile mean the payment details are already there, making impulse purchases extremely easy.

Shift in the payment culture  

We are also likely to see a big shift in the payment culture with widespread adoption for mobile wallets. More and more customers will embrace m-payments as millennials come of shopping age. It is estimated that mobile payment transactions will reach $800 billion by 2019 and that number will continue to grow. And with greater use will come more discounts, deals and coupons. But, for the market to evolve, players in this domain will have to focus on enhanced security and fraud protection.

Up until now, the web offered all things to all people. The mobile, on the other hand, will serve individuals with just what they want in their moment of need, aiding in a contextually relevant and personalized digital experience. We are standing at the cusp of a paradigm shift!