By Aimee Chanthadavong

Mobile penetration continues to experience rapid growth in the retail sector with the value of retail purchases on mobile increasing more than 30-fold in two years, according to the latest PayPal and eBay report.

The Secure Insight: Consumer Discovery report, developed in conjunction with Nielsen and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS), reveals how mobile technology is driving dramatic change to the path to purchase, connecting consumers with products in multiple ways. And how, for retailers, the future is about playing a role in aiding consumer discovery – helping consumers find what they want, when they want it be it online or in store.

Jeff Clementz, PayPal Australia vice president, says there’s now a blurring between online and offline channels.

“The iPad, the iPhone are changing the way we live our lives. We’re now shopping from our couch creating couch-commerce, shopping on the way to work and while we’re on the go,” he says.

“But we can’t focus only on e-commerce even if it keeps growing at a rate of 10 per cent year on year or it explodes at rate of 20 per cent; it’s not going to overtake traditional retailing.”

Regardless of the final purchase location (online or offline), technology is aiding the consumer discovery process with Australians using desktop (92 per cent), smartphones (47 per cent) and tablets (25 per cent) to search and discover products and services.

“In the end 20 per cent of what we buy is online, 80 per cent is offline. But nearly 50 per cent of traditional retail is internet influenced. So people are coming in to a store more prepared and understand information about a product,” he said.

“They’re using Facebook, online forums, reading reviews and it’s a trend that’s not going away. So we have to pay attention and service these customers who are in transit and we call that as the path of purchase has changed. You need to be where your consumers are.”

The report also indicated the future of shopping isn’t just about transactions, it’s about people. Understanding them and customising each experience based on who the shopper is, not just what they buy.

Deborah Sharkey, vice president, eBay Australia and New Zealand, said at the core of new retail and the future of commerce is personalisation.

“Today’s consumers are at the centre of a myriad web of devices. They’re constantly connected to choice and opportunity. Consumers are in control,” she says.

“If connected consumers are at the centre of the new retail model it stands to reason that personalisation will be critical to success.

“Personalisation is about understanding your customers, who they are and what they buy. It’s about inspiring them and creating personalised shopping experiences base don their personal preferences. This kind of rich data is the benefits of online channel. Suddenly retailers know who’s walking into their stores.”