eMarketer estimates that in 2014 there will be a total of 1.75 billion smartphone users worldwide, with numbers continuing to increase through 2017. This trend confirms for business owners the urgent need to adjust to the technological advances that are currently transforming the face of retail.
In fact, by 2017 global mobile phone penetration is estimated to rise to 69.4 percent: with so many of the world's individuals having access to online sources at all times, retailers are beginning to invest huge amounts of time and money in efforts to revamp their digital appearance and functionality. Consumers now require that businesses have clean, efficient, easy-to-navigate websites that allow for the perusal and purchase of products.
More and more consumers are also beginning to own smartphones, possibly because prices for this technology continue to decrease while the quality increases. In 2014, nearly a quarter of the world's population will use a smartphone each month. This kind of large customer base creates the perfect mobile marketing opportunity, with businesses eager to form relationships with mobile users in order to make them lifelong patrons.
And now it isn't only mobile phones that are helping retail connectivity. The Point of Sale News reports that 42 percent of adult Americans now own a tablet device. The shows that the range of mobile technology available is constantly expanding, giving customers a greater range of options for buying merchandise and staying in touch.
eMarketer further explains the growth: "Mobile data network expansion—especially in areas outside of urban centers in emerging markets with rising middle classes—and the adoption of smartphones and feature phones with internet capabilities will fuel growth of the mobile phone internet consumer base. We estimate that the total number of mobile phone internet users will rise 16.5% in 2014 and maintain double-digit growth through 2016."
With such a significant number of people using mobile phones, and smart phones in particular, retailers are facing pressure to make their systems technologically streamlined across all platforms. Customers don't just appreciate but also expect a certain level of integration and consistency when interacting with a business. This represents an amazing opportunity to stay ahead of the trends and take full advantage of mobile phone expansion.
Vijay Balakrishnan of The Point of Sale News explains: "As global penetration grows, we expect retailers to invest more in integrating tablets and smartphones into the store experience… Kroger's is a good example of a retailer that already had a very successful loyalty card program with most customers using their cards. Now their mobile app is on the way to not just replacing the plastic loyalty cards, but also integrating digital features like electronic coupons, prescription renewals, shopping lists, weekly promotions and so on. It organizes everything a shopper would want or need to do for their regular supermarket trips into one branded app that customers use at home and in the store."
As technological trends continue to affect the retail market, business owners would be wise to implement mobile marketing services to stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of new platforms.