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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Boom in mobile shopping

Purchases on phones and tablets hit $328m last year
The Straits Times - May 18, 2012
By: Grace Chng
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Boom in mobile shopping The Reebonz app for iPhone and iPad, for example, make it easier for shoppers to mobile shop.

MORE shoppers are ditching brick-and-mortar stores and making purchases over the Internet via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Mobile shoppers coughed up an estimated $328 million last year to buy goods and services such as clothes, handbags and movie tickets - up a striking 660 per cent from $43 million in 2010.

Mobile shopping accounted for about a quarter of all online retail sales last year, which hit $1.4 billion, up 30 per cent from levels in 2010, according to a survey conducted for e-payment firm PayPal by research company Nielsen.

Digitally savvy consumers and the proliferation of smartphones and tablet computers have contributed to the explosive growth in mobile shopping.

About 80 per cent of all phones sold by Singapore's telcos are smartphones, according to the report, which surveyed more than 1,000 online shoppers, including 482 mobile shoppers.

Portability and the convenience of being able to buy anytime, anywhere, encourage mobile shoppers to spend more, said Mr Elias Ghanem, PayPal's managing director for South-east Asia and India.

Median spending per person has expanded, reaching $354 last year, up from $93 in 2010.

There were more mobile shoppers too. Last year, one in two out of 1.82 million online shoppers used mobile gadgets. In 2010, the figure was only one in three out of 1.21 million.

Fashion and accessories and movie tickets were the top two fave items. Software apps and e-books were also popular.

Growth in mobile shopping has been driven largely by students and housewives. Mobile shoppers aged 50 or above spent the most, forking out $575 a head, while those aged between 18 and 29 spent the least, forking out $233.

Barber Mervyn Hi, 24, uses his smartphone to go online to a website in the United States to buy $500 worth of pomades every month because they are not available here. He has also bought electronic gizmos such as USB car chargers and 3D spectacles online because they were cheaper.

Communications executive Sylvia Loh, 54, spent more than $1,000 online earlier this week, on a $995 Prada bag and a $195 Marc Jacobs backpack from Reebonz, a local shopping site.

She was in bed when she put in the order using her tablet computer. 'It's so convenient using the tablet - it's light and easy to handle,' she said.

Online shoppers who use a computer for e-transactions buy higher-priced items such as airline tickets and financial products.

PayPal says mobile shopping is likely to hit $3.1 billion in 2015, a 10-fold jump from levels last year.

Mr Ghanem noted: 'Merchants are looking for new sales channels. They'll latch on to the mobile wave and develop websites optimised for smartphones and tablets - then we'll see another round of explosive growth.'


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