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As Consumers Move From Desktop To Mobile, ‘The Thumb Is Now In Charge’

Facebook’s latest blog series spotlights shoppers’ shifting mobile patterns — and what marketers must do to keep up.

As mobile has come to dominate consumers’ lives, the result has been major shifts in commerce — and Facebook’s latest blog series aims to highlight the three key evolutions with big impacts for marketers: the shift in time spent from desktop to mobile, from one screen/channel to many, and from big screens to small screens.

In other words, “the thumb is now in charge,” and marketers are in the process of adapting their spending to reflect where consumers are spending their time.

From desktop to mobile

Mobile search has eclipsed desktop, as we reported early this month — and that’s not the only area with rapid growth. According to eMarketer, US retail mCommerce sales will reach $74 billion this year, up 32 percent from 2014.

Facebook reports that it has seen this development reflected in people’s shifting behaviors. Of the conversions it saw from January to May of this year, 3 in ten online purchases took place on mobile, and the frequency of mobile purchases increased 35 percent according to Facebook IQ’s latest analysis.

What does this mean for marketers? People scroll quickly on mobile — and close or flip pages at will. Catching a consumer’s attention, Facebook advises, takes more than mobile design; it takes true personalization and visualization. It also requires an understanding of how to map and target consumers across their multi-channel consumption patterns.

From one device and channel to many

“Omnichannel” has been a buzzword for a while, but the reasoning behind it bears repeating: The consumer path to purchase in today’s world is by no means linear. People might discover content on one device, research on another, and purchase on a third — or purchase in-store while using a smartphone for product research and comparison-shopping. Ergo, retailers must think about targeting people, not devices — and also how to keep the brand experience consistent across platforms. To reach the right people at the right time, retailers must track and understand how and where they discover, engage with, and share content.

Still, there is one constant in the cross-device shopping world: the shift from big screens to small screens with the increased use of mobile. 73 percent of people say their smartphone is always with them, and, therefore, mobile has the ability to influence people along every step of the purchase journey.

“Call it the ‘M-Factor,” Facebook summed up its first blog post of the series. “Given the amount of time we’re spending on mobile versus other media and its inherent functionality and convenience, our mobile device is… where we go to research products and services, compare prices, get information while in-store… it’s [everything.]”