Just four years ago, less than one-third of Americans owned a smartphone, opting instead for simpler, so-called “feature” cell phones. Today, more than 75 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone, and about 55 percent own a tablet device.

The rapid adoption of smart devices has ignited a “digital-first” mindset and a swell of mobile shoppers. In the United States alone, mobile commerce sales grew roughly 63 percent to more than $34.2 billion, last year, according to Internet Retailer. By 2018, that number is expected to rival e-commerce revenues, which currently stand at about $262 billion.

In its digital customer experience forecast, Forrester called the surge “a clear turning point for mobile commerce.”

“Mobile will be the shining beacon driving digital experiences forward in 2014 — and in turn, will lead to greater customer experience innovation,” the research firm said in the report. “Even laggard firms will have to make strategic investment in user-centered design and user experience.”

Despite this prediction, jan/san distributors have been slow to embrace mobile technology. Most distributors are still trying to wrap their heads around their e-commerce capabilities, let alone prepared to invest in mobile optimized sales platforms.

Yet, waiting to somehow “catch up” to the technology could spell lost revenue, says Conklin.

“You have to be where your potential customers are if you want to make money,” Conklin says. “If you wait too long to have your site up and mobile, you’re behind the 8 ball.”

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Understanding Mobile Optimization