Don’t count out older consumers when it comes to mobile commerce – that’s one trend going forward into the 2020s that is important as the population continues to age. That said, there seems little question that younger consumers will continue to drive most changes in mobile, including its often complex place in the retail and shopping chain.
In a new PYMNTS interview, Sri Narasimhan, head of strategy, partnerships and business development at LISNR, dug into the findings of new research from his company and PYMNTS on the state of mobile commerce as retailers strive to fully incorporate the evolving technology into their operations and value propositions. The conversation came as the old concept of “omnichannel” retail shifts toward serving the consumer along all touchpoints of the retail journey – one that more often involves online, mobile and brick-and-mortar activity.
“A generational shift is taking place. We are all digital, all the time now,” Narasimhan told PYMNTS. “U.S. consumers crossed a critical milestone this year. For the first time, they are spending more time with their mobile devices than they spend watching TV. Consumers are relying on their phones more than ever to save time, save money and save stress.”
Indeed, when it comes to retail, those are among the most important factors for any merchant that seeks to elevate their mobile commerce game and gain an edge over competitors via the use of smartphones and other mobile devices.
PYMNTS-LISNR research demonstrates how younger consumers are driving this shift in the history of retail. For instance, the frequency of mobile usage grows as age decreases. Millennials and bridge millennials use apps most frequently for planning in-store purchases – 47.9 percent and 42.8 percent, respectively. (PYMNTS defines bridge millennials as consumers between 30 and 40 years old, a group that is more likely to have a college degree, be employed and earn higher salaries than other consumers.)
But older consumers are also taking part in the mobile revolution. Nearly 61 percent of Baby Boomers and about 37 percent of senior citizens qualify as either “frequent” or “occasional” users of mobile devices when it comes to planning trips to stores. According to the PYMNTS research, “frequent users use mobile apps to aid with in-store purchases at least once a week. Occasional users use apps in such a manner once a month to a few times per year.”
As Narasimhan told PYMNTS, “It’s striking to see an unexpectedly high level of mobile app use across generations. Even the so-called laggard segments in this population are highly engaged with mobile apps.”
But merchants need to make their mobile experiences count. As the PYMNTS research shows, most consumers do not like having too many mobile apps on their devices. More specifically, 77.6 percent of consumers have installed five or fewer merchant apps on their phones. That said, the research also found that consumers “who make half or most of their purchases online tend to have more apps installed than respondents who make most or all of their purchases in physical stores.” Even more on point, “42.6 percent of respondents who shop mostly online and 44.5 percent of those who make half of their purchases online were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ interested in downloading merchants’ apps, compared to 30.3 percent of respondents who make most of their purchases in physical stores.”
Those findings carry significant lessons and messages for merchants going into the 2020s. “Every merchant out there is seriously rethinking their retail strategy,” Narasimhan said. “User preferences are changing, and merchants are digging deep into their core value propositions to play to their unique strengths.”
Such strengths typically include building a better in-store experience to meet those evolving consumer expectations for omnichannel retail, and meeting changing consumer demands from younger shoppers.
But when it comes to understanding user shopping preferences, nothing is set in stone. The mobile push is still relatively young, and merchants and consumers are still figuring out what works in specific situations with particular consumer groups. That experimentation will continue in 2020 alongside the growth of demonstrably engaging cross-channel experiences.
“There’s a lot of room to grow,” Narasimhan said. “It’s just that merchants have to find their sweet spot.”