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EDITORIAL Mobile commerce dominates developed markets – is Africa ready to follow suit?

The boom in mobile commerce seen throughout the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, with two separate studies showing it had a peak year in 2021 (so far!), While the app economy keeps getting stronger.

UK buyers are currently on track to spend more than 145 million hours in shopping apps this season, up from 138 million hours last year, according to App Annie research.

Even with the stores opening, research predicts that mobile will still play a crucial role in the buying process. This move to mobile is also having an impact on the way people pay when they are in stores, with Juniper Research finding that transaction volumes for mobile payments will increase from 26 billion in 2021 to 49 billion in 2023; that is to say a growth of 92%.

As a result, App Annie says there will likely be a 45% increase in time spent in shopping apps in the fourth quarter of 2021, which will further strengthen the record year mcommerce has had.

This is supported by a separate analysis from the mobile marketing analytics platform Adjust, which finds that globally, the rapid growth of the app ecosystem continues, with mobile poised to represent 75% of total digital ad spend this year – food delivery, social media and gaming is leading the way.

However, what drives mobile commerce is different in different regions and therefore the opportunities it offers are different.

According to Adjust’s research, APAC’s growth is still driven by mobile games, while Turkey is largely motivated by no-play verticals, such as health and fitness, and education. Facebook, Google, AppLovin and Unity all dominate the verticals in Turkey. In APAC, Facebook and Google Ads lead the charts for ad spend in most verticals and markets, but regional networks are gaining ground.

At the crossroads of mcommerce and the app economy are food delivery apps. These continue to thrive after huge pandemic-induced growth. Data from Adjust indicates that food and beverage growth has been a steadily upward trend, even in markets that are no longer stuck.

Global installs in 2020 grew 19% year-on-year and have grown another 20% so far in 2021. Session growth is even more impressive, already up 34% in 2021 from 71% in 2020.

Google Ads, Facebook and Apple Search Ads were the main networks driving the growth, although Snap and TikTok entered the top five, followed by AppLovin, Headway and Digital Turbine.

While there are many opportunities in these regions around e-commerce, the real opportunity may not yet be realized. Africa has a vast array of potential mobile consumers who live in extremely rural areas with little or no connectivity.

A plan by Avanti to use satellites to offer mobile network operators across the continent the ability to offer affordable 2, 3 and even 4G services to around 100 million of these people, could suddenly create a whole new market for everything mobile and commerce.

While Elon Musk’s Starlink seeks to do the same, Avanti’s offering will likely be launched first, and by working with traditional MNOs in the region, it could deliver the service quickly and efficiently.

And from this connectivity, an entire ecosystem will quickly emerge. While many of these places are too far away for food delivery – although I’m glad I’m wrong – all other mcommerce tropes are likely to apply: gaming, social media, and shopping are all susceptible. to take off to some extent. And 100 million new buyers and players are not to be sniffed out.

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