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Could the smartphone make the desktop computer obsolete?

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It’s no secret that smartphones are becoming more affordable and popular which presents an unprecedented opportunity for retailers to benefit commercially. People are spending more and more time on their smartphones, whether it’s browsing, shopping, listening to music or watching videos.

Major retailers such as Amazon and House of Fraser have a popular multi-channel web presence and with online shopping set to hit £50bn by 2018, according to Verdict, the companies are more willing to invest in online than ever before. Smartphone sales have shot up 210 per cent year-on-year during the second quarter this year compared with 130 per cent for tablets during the same period last year.

The best shopping apps offer an intuitive and ‘joined-up shopping experience,’ and it’s no surprise that the market is brimming with e-commerce solution companies who are keen to show retailers that they can help them make the transition from a basic website to a slick multi-channel model.

A report released this September by IMRG and Capgemini announced that a tipping point had been reached in e-Retail as mobile now accounts for all online growth.

But what does this mean for the computer as we know it - will we no longer be working and shopping from our desks?

Eric Abensur, CEO of ecommerce solutions firm Venda, says the increase in adoption of mobile devices indicates an evolution in behavior of the modern consumer.

He told Retail Gazette: “Consumers are increasingly using smartphones and tablets rather than desktop or laptop computers. New technologies in the home, such as ‘smart fridges’ that order your groceries automatically and smart TVs that enable consumers to shop from the comfort of their sofa, are also pulling consumers away from the now traditional view of connected commerce, which is in front of a desktop computer.”

With a multitude of analytics firms who anonymously reveal buying behaviour, the revolution of real-time tailoring and geo-targeting are set to fundamentally change the way the retail business is done.

Geoffrey Barraclough, Head of Corporate Propositions at WorldPay, agrees businesses are getting smart about targeting consumers in their downtime where their potential for an impulse buy is higher and opportunity to scout alternatives potentially lower.

“Whether it’s the commute, an ad break or surfing the net before bed, retailers need to make sure they’re in those spaces with optimised mobile sites and social media drivers to encourage visitor traffic.”

He says the growing appetite for tablets amongst children will cause further decline of desktop shopping for the next generation. Barraclough explains: “This shift will be driven by the ability of all bodies in the industry to take the public with them and demonstrate that smartphone payments are not only convenient but secure too.”

Although smartphones are nothing new, they are gaining market share at a frantic pace. In order to help understand what people want from their smartphone, we spoke to PrismaStar who provide search and selection tools to retailers. They revealed some exclusive insight into what we want from our phones.

Their survey of 500,000 UK adults between July – September this year found that the most popular use for smartphones is calling and texting (35.9 per cent) but using the smartphone primarily for the internet isn’t far behind (23.9 per cent) and could grow in coming years. However, just 4.7 per cent use their phone mainly for apps – another figure that could see growth.

By ‘drilling down’ and providing analytics the firm found just 6.2 per cent of people searched for unlimited data usage and 2.7 per cent searched for 4G connectivity. This was far less popular than consumer demands for a top brand (10.8 per cent) and a high megapixel camera (10.1 per cent). PrismaStar predict the iPhone 5s to remain the dominant smartphone this Christmas with Samsung retaining overall top spot.

As technology such as e-wallets, fingerprinting, augmented reality and mobile loyalty schemes materialise, it is looking more than likely that mobile will be the main tool used by retailers in the foreseeable future.

Published on Monday 09 December by Editorial Assistant

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