KEY POINTS

  • Mobile has played a huge role in cementing the dominance of what we're describing in this report as the Big Three e-commerce retailers, Amazon, eBay and Wal-Mart. Mobile-only users account for one-fourth to one-third of the total U.S. digital audience for each of these retailers.
  • Despite all the media attention lavished on these three brands, surprisingly little is said about their impressive mobile statistics. For example, Amazon has more mobile-only users than Facebook in the U.S.
  • eBay is way ahead among the five largest mobile commerce apps for time-spend in the U.S. eBay's users spend 108 minutes a month on its app.
  • Wal-Mart's mobile usage gives it a 48% boost over its PC audience size. A full 15% of the U.S. mobile population accesses Wal-Mart.com on their smartphones.
  • Wal-Mart, eBay and Amazon have built their mobile apps and sites not as extensions of their desktop experience, but as services designed to play to each service's overall strengths, across platforms. eBay privileges user engagement; Wal-Mart convenience, discounts, and in-store features; while Amazon focuses on optimizing user experience.
  • E-commerce players large and small will follow the Big Three's lead in solving mobile challenges. Many retail sites still aren't usable across all mobile browsers and operating systems. Shopping carts don't sync across mobile and desktop, and many payment processes are still clunky. There's also the looming threat from reverse showrooming.

Introduction

BII_TotalDigital_MCommerceBIIAmazon and eBay launched in 1995, and their foundation marks the beginning of e-commerce.

As the Internet grew and Amazon and eBay became more prominent, retail industry observers began to think that malls and big box stores were on the path to extinction.

Some imagined a future in which the lights would go out at bricks-and-mortar stores the world over.

The same anxieties accompanied the rise of smartphones, and the new shopping habits that grew up around them. Consumers armed with mobile phones can price-compare at the blink of an eye, and buy something on their phones at a discount even while standing in a physical store looking at the [...]