U.S. Lagging In Mobile Commerce, Far East In The Lead

Rakuten, styling itself as the world's third largest e-commerce marketplace, has just released data on an independent survey of the world's mobile shopping trends—showing shoppers in the Far East as the world's most eager mobile device shoppers. 15% of Indonesians say they're happy to shop from their phones, while just 8% of Americans and Brits say the same.

The reasons why are mainly a perception of an inferior shopping experience when using a mobile device for shopping, with some 50% of survey respondees saying they'd shop online on a laptop or PC for this reason. American shoppers second biggest concern was security of shopping from a mobile device, with 22% of U.S. respondees saying it was their biggest concern compared to 17% of Thai shoppers. Shoppers in Thailand, as well as being less concerned about security, were also the keenest at shopping from tablets with 35% saying they used their tablet to shop online versus 19% of U.S. shoppers. Americans were also much more reluctant to share social shopping advice on social media, with only 19% saying they'd shared info on a product this way compared to 50% of Spanish shoppers.

While these figures are interesting all by themselves, they'll be keenly observed by players in the mobile shopping industry and also in similar industries that are pushing to get shoppers to use their mobile devices as tools in the buying experience. This could be integrated shopping loyalty card efforts like Apple's Passbook, or digital mobile payments—with firms like LevelUp and Paypal jockeying for position.

Mobile online shopping is set to become a bigger phenomenon over the next several years as smartphone and tablet adoption skyrockets.

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  • Doug Stephens

    Hey Kit.  Great article.  It seems there's largely two reasons for the disparity between Asia and Western consumers with respect to mobile shopping.  Westerners are coming from desktop and more recently laptop shopping UX's whereas for many Asians and South Asians, mobile has been the only screen they've ever known.  The other issue, which is related is that most brands are simply pushing their desktop shopping format down to mobile devices, rather than rethinking the entire shopping experience and path to purchase for mobile. To some extent, I also believe the concept of privacy is largely a Western notion that most other countries in the world can't really even conceive of in the same way.   It's likely going to take some time for us to adapt before we catch up to our Eastern counterparts.