What’s On

Indians take to smartphones, mCommerce, and buying online

94 percent of smartphone users in India use it to access the internet, while 57 percent of smart shoppers go online to check the best deals and prices, shows a recent market survey by eBay India on the online and mobile habits of Indians. In fact another study by the research firm eMarketers also showed that smartphones are fast becoming the primary choice for going online for most Indian consumers.

eMarketer further reported that online surveys and on-device measurements performed in India in late 2011, found that 63 percent of new and 75 percent of mature smartphone users accessed the mobile internet via a mobile app on a daily basis. Talking about the trend Muralikrishnan B, Country Manager, eBay India says, “Mobile commerce is starting to gain traction in India with the burgeoning smart phone penetration and a large number of Indians now use their smart phone to shop as well as compare prices. eBay India is a believer in Mobile Commerce and we have launched a suite of apps to cater to the Mobile Shopper and aid his online shopping behaviour.”

Interestingly home is the favourite access point for mobile internet for most consumers surveyed in the eBay India Mobile Commerce Survey; around 84 percent. This could be because serious shoppers and online denizens were least disturbed by various distractions. Around 66 percent accessed the internet over mobile while at work, and 55 percent went online via their mobiles while waiting for their friends.

According to the eBay India survey, mobile assisted commerce is growing rapidly. In fact shopping is the third most popular category of search after email and social networking. The study found that 70 percent of smartphone users access online shopping websites – a trend that can be very exciting for e-commerce giants.  Muralikrishnan adds that mobile commerce users are savvy shoppers and use their smart phones to check product prices, locate a store, research product features, find deals and check product availability. Gadgets are the most popular online purchases; around 68 percent of mobile internet users have bought gadgets on their smart phone followed by 40 percent who have bought clothes and footwear, and 34 percent have bought books.

While mCommerce as a concept has caught on, but users are still finding it difficult here to do any real transaction mainly because most Indian sites are not really mobile friendly. The browsers are still not good enough for serious transactions over the mobile phones. While many banks and telecom operators are enabling easy money through mobile payment systems, but acceptance is still low. Then there is a major lacuna in the area of mobile payment gateways. Even as consumers agree that it does bring some monetary sanity while on the move, but the traditional minded Indian consumers are still to take to mobile money and transacting over the mobile phone due to security concerns.