It is all about mobile

imagesI was at a non-profit board meeting the other day and one of the things on our agenda was ecommerce.  A few of us had been pushing for the importance of not only thinking about the website but the importance of mobile.

These days when companies are built from scratch it all begins with a technology platform.  That platform is the foundation for everything; sales, management, events, data, calendars, etc.   It is the hub.  Companies who did not start with that technology hub find themselves backing into it without the true realization of how important that hub is of course until they do.

Two of the board members, who come out of banking and consulting for big brands chimed in on the ecommerce mobile push.  They both said that they do everything from their phone.  Purchases, conversations, calendar…life.  They never use anything else unless they happen to be sitting at their desk at work.  Their lives are purely mobile.

I spend all day in a echo chamber of the new new.  I am highly aware of that because it can takes years for the new new to catch up to the masses.  Hearing those two board members talk about how they live their lives through mobile was certainly an “aha” moment for the non-profit but it was also a “wow” for me.

My friend sent me a study on Criteo stating mobile accounts for 30% of all ecommerce transactions globally covering almost $130 billion in sales.   It will hit 50% quite soon.

The study states conversion is high across multiple categories.  Smartphones have taken over tablets (noted by the two board members).  Android is becoming more important because not everyone has an iPhone but certainly consumer behavior remains the same.  Asia leads the pack in mobile transactions and in some countries Android out performs iPhone.

Sometimes when I read these studies or witness the world we live in today I have these small moments when I wonder what our founding fathers (and mothers) would think if they were transported in time to the world we live in today.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lisa Abeyta

    You are right – and nonprofits should be considering the value of this mode of communication now more than ever – even if they are serving those in low income brackets. The blending of e-commerce, mobile, and philanthropy is such an exciting proposition.We are working with a food bank to convert their mobile app which used to focus on their donors and helping them find ways to donate and make it now focus on those they serve. New studies show that 77% of the low income population under the age of 30 own a smart phone, so delivering information about food distribution locations, documents required to qualify, services available, and fingertip access to the call center will mean the food bank can more effectively distribute food – including donations of fruits and vegetables which spoil quickly since push notices will mean more of those who are qualified to receive the food distributions will be aware of its availability. We’re integrating open data transit info as well to help with navigating by public transportation to distribution sites. And the companies sponsoring the app – grocery chains, pharmacies – will be able to deliver geolocated coupons that not only provides valuable visibility and PR to the sponsors but delivers added value to the demographic using the app by giving them discounts where they shop.

    1. Gotham Gal

      funny enough there is an article in the nyx today about homeless people who have phones. those phones have helped them find housing.

      1. Lisa Abeyta

        I would have never believed smart phone tech would be effective in serving needs like this – it opens up a lot of possibilities

        1. Gotham Gal


  2. William Mougayar

    Our apetite for mobile is insatiable. The more we get, the more we want.Mobile is freedom.

    1. Gotham Gal

      So true. Freedom

    2. awaldstein

      The major thing that I still go to my air are writing, spreadsheeting and of course commenting.

  3. ellen sing

    I remember in the distant past there was something called the “internet appliance network.” Do you remember?

    1. Gotham Gal


      1. ellen sing

        back in the flatiron days in the 1990’s.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Those were the days!

  4. lisa hickey

    Thanks Joanne! One of my favorite subjects. And when you said “Wow” to your story of your Board Members, I said “Wow” too, and had this urge to turn the “Wow” into a “Why”. This may sound super-obvious to the techies that are way ahead of me—but articulating the framework of “why” mobile works the way it does was helpful to me.Response TimeDesktop computer — can respond to information instantaneously as long as you are on your desktopMobile — can respond to information instantaneouslyGeolocationDesktop computer — geolocation is of limited useMobile — geolocation is of huge use when you are constantly moving your locationCameraDesktop computer camera — just takes picture of youPhone camera — takes picture of you, who you are socializing with, what you are interacting with in the “real” world.CommunicationDesktop as communication device — almost on par with phones, but was slow to catch upPhone communication — Besides actual voice quality being good, system of alerts with for calls, texts, VM, other voice seems of better quality, more organized, and more intuitive.Monetary TransactionsDesktop — Mostly, purchases from desktop are considered. The user behavior is “I am going to go to my computer and order this now”Mobile — Transactions become part of the pattern of daily life, much like shopping IRL has always been.Getting you to where you need to goWhile looking up directions on desktop and then emailing them to myself from a desktop does actually work, there is nothing like the freedom of never worrying about directions again.And…I think that goes back to your comment, Joanne, about “They both said that they do everything from their phone. Purchases, conversations, calendar…life.” The promise of mobile is not simply that it is, well, mobile. The promise is that it mimics life in the 21st century better than a desktop can.@wmoug:disqus’s comment below made me remember how the “internet” was first advertised many years ago. All these pictures of people on beaches, working from their laptops. I never once went to a beach and actually saw that materialize. But I DO see people working from their phones—not just on the beach, but really, everywhere. We have conference calls all the time, with people from all over the world, and I have learned to recognize the sounds when the person on the other line is washing dishes, raking leaves, in a car, in a coffee shop or walking on a city street. It’s actually funny to be able to tell what multi-tasking activity someone is engaging in while talking. And that—quite frankly—is freedom. It’s more difficult to multi-task while on a desktop. (And I’m ok with it because a) I believe in “hands busy, mind free” and b) Holding people accountable for results and not physical presence is less stressful and more productive IMO.)@LisaAbeyta:disqus — Awesome case study. Phenomenal. “Mobile for more effective distribution of resources for people in need” — that “aha” sounds like a world-changer to me. Combine that with the restructuring of the transportation industry with companies like Uber, etc, and how that will *also* change distribution of resources and I start to get really excited about the future all over again and our ability to solve some huge, previously unsolvable problems of the world, like poverty, homelessness and environmental crisises.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Certainly I am a case study of being able to do what I do from any place in the world.

    2. Lisa Abeyta

      Yes, Lisa – this is the focus of what we do – making it easier to access resources and information, making it more efficient and immediate. It’s taken a while to get the monetization right and to find the solutions that matter most, but we’ve hit some traction now and believe, like you, that this is a world-changer. I don’t know what problem is paramount to solve in Lagos or London or Miami, but the people who are entrenched in those communities do know – and providing the tools to create solutions in mobile is what I think will finally make the difference of how we distribute resources and address needs within a community.

  5. Michele SPiezia

    And if e-commerce is the first step, the enterprise will follow closely behind. We are now used to using our mobile devices for everything lifestyle-related, but the nature of iOS has precluded ‘real work’ from coming to your phone or tablet. Talk about ‘new new.’ Though it will take a while for the critical mass to shift, companies building & launching their platforms on mobile first will have game-changing advantage over those that started on the web and scramble to go native on mobile.

  6. Share

    @gothamgal:disqus Thank you so much for the mobile piece & for supporting Women Who Tech. Half the people in world are mobile enabled. Haves & Have-not’s. Creating content for each is incredibly essential, @lisa_hickey:disqus really gets it. Please help us move #2DoPix from an initial Android beta to a full mobile marketplace release. Thanks! Join our team

  7. Winkieboy

    Joanne,I have been in the mobile (phone, tablet and smartphone) retail and e-commerce business since 1990 and held various roles as an investor, start up founder, corporate-leader (CFO, CTO, COO and M&A). I truly believe that we will all end-up conducting e-commerce from any device (including smartphones and smart TVs) seamlessly. That said, transactions over smartphones remain very low and the majority come from digital goods and (lately) on demand services (e.g. a song, a movie, a game, a taxi, take out, etc).The majority of studies are announcing mobile transaction growth like the big surprise. All of them define mobile transactions as transactions that occur on a tablet and/or smartphone. Note: Please read Methodology footnote on Criteo’s report page 1 (…. “The data analyzed is for consumer browsing and shopping behavior in Jan-Feb 2015, across desktop and mobile (smartphone + tablet) devices including iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets.”.What the Criteo report and other reports are confirming is the natural change that is occurring in ecommerce, people are shifting from a laptop to a tablet at home. It is true that smartphone retail browsing is growing significantly, although still far away from laptop and tablet retail browsing from a time perspective.I would love to see smartphones overtaking tablets in ecommerce transactions. But we are not there yet. Many investors are placing high bets on this happening very soon. Time will tell.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Time will definitely tell.

  8. pointsnfigures

    Yup. Wait until the watch computer is super powerful. Or they put it on a necklace.

  9. Pranay Srinivasan

    Mobile is 70-80% in India, China, Mexico and SE Asia.

    1. Gotham Gal

      that’s huge

      1. Pranay Srinivasan

        Most financial / first time eCom transactions happen on Mobile. Recharging prepaid SIM cards is the first transaction that builds the behavior. One of my investors is CEO of India’s largest Recharge company – They have 50M Prepaid Wallets and are now applying for a Mobile-only Bank, run an eCom marketplace, and are facilitating micro Finance because they know buying behavior and patterns / trends for the lower income, unbanked population better than the government.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Super smart.