In the third quarter of 2016 the smartphone passed the tablet as the third most popular device for online shopping: 16 percent of Belgians purchased a product or service via their smartphone. Although laptops and desktops are still by far the most important devices for e-commerce, this information does indicate an important, mobile trend.
The smartphone as a shopping assistant
In addition to purchasing products and services, the smartphone also fills an important, supporting role during shopping: consumers are using their smartphone more and more to search for information about products online and to compare prices at home as well as in the store. 4 in 10 Belgians indicated that they had bought a product in a traditional store after they looked it up on their smartphone first. 1 in 7 consumers even indicated that their smartphone is becoming their most important tool with shopping.
Bert Hendrickx, responsible for digital research with GfK: "Traditional stores should not necessarily feel threatened by the rise of e-commerce and m-commerce. On the contrary, this evolution offers them a lot of opportunities. After all, 1 in 10 consumers indicated that they like it if shopkeepers approach them via their smartphone while they shop. This even increases to 1 in 5 for the younger generation, "Generation Z" (15 to 21 year-old)."
The smartphone as a payment method
Another role that the smartphone can fill during shopping is that of payment method. Generally, Belgians are open to this, although it is often seen as a "gimmick": 6 in 10 Belgians are of the opinion that mobile payment technology needs to be developed further before they will use it more often. The biggest barrier to payment with a mobile device is privacy: 1 in 2 consumers indicated being worried about disclosing personal information.
Compared to previous years we do see that mobile payments are becoming more commonplace. For instance, 1 in 7 Belgians use their smartphone to pay an amount to a friend or acquaintance, while 80 percent of Belgians are familiar with at least one mobile payment method. Finally, 42 percent of Belgians indicate that they are more likely to pay via mobile if a smaller amount is involved.
Bert Hendrickx adds: "We noticed that Belgians are making more purchases with their smartphone, while this was rather limited until now. We expect that the role of mobile will increase in the coming year as well. An important reason for this is the increasing confidence in the smartphone as a shopping and payment method: although 1 in 2 Belgians still do not deem mobile payment to be safe, we are seeing progress here."
1 in 6 Belgians make purchases via smartphone
8.2 million Belgians made at least one online purchase and spent 6.66 billion Euros online from January through September 2016. This is an increase of 10 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.
Online shopping via smartphone is increasing: in the third quarter of 2016, 16 percent of Belgians made at least one purchase via smartphone. This was only 12 percent in the same period in 2015. With this, the smartphone is, for the first time, more popular than the tablet (stable at 14 percent) for online purchases.
About 4 percent of online spend was made via smartphone. If this trend continues, mobile e-commerce can expect 350 million Euros in sales for the entire year of 2016.
Inge Zeeuws, Research Director with GfK: "Due to specific trends from the fourth quarter (such as Black Friday) and the end-of-year purchases which are increasingly done online, we expect that this number will eventually be higher. We will publish these numbers in the beginning of March 2017, in collaboration with BeCommerce.”
About the data
Results are derived from figures from the BeCommerce Market Monitor (research that is conducted by GfK for BeCommerce, with the support of PostNL, Google, and Worldline), GfK FutureBuy (annual trend report from GfK about the evolving shopping behaviour of consumers in different countries and sectors), and an ad hoc survey with more than 4,000 consumers (results are representative for the online Belgian population, 18 to 65 years) via the online access panel of GfK Belgium.