CHICAGO – Facebook is urging companies across the board to embrace mobile technology before another disruptor comes along and renders their organization irrelevant.
It's advice that payments companies have had to pay close attention to the past five years in an industry undergoing abrupt mobile-driven changes.
Nearly 40% of overall retail purchases took place on a mobile device last year and will continue to grow, said Jeremy Lewis, head of U.S. e-commerce for Facebook, citing his company's own research. And 60% of omni-channel shoppers say they will make purchases on their smartphones this year, he said.
Indeed, PayPal, Apple, Samsung and others have clearly put an emphasis on in-app payment capabilities as they expand on their mobile strategies.
And the numbers keep pointing toward trends in which payments providers must find ways to embed their services into other facets of the shopping experience.
"Of millennials, 83% do research on a mobile device and 69% are buying on a mobile device," Lewis said during a presentation June 9 at the annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition. In addition, 61% have downloaded a retail shopping app, and 44% said they prefer shopping through a mobile app, he said.
The 18- to 44-year-old demographic definitely prefers using a mobile app to shop and purchase, while older demographics prefer a mobile website, Lewis added.
The headlines from Black Friday last year were the first to declare that online shopping topped physical stores, a first that was driven through mobile commerce, Lewis said.
"We are already focused with our many e-retailers to develop holiday plans for 2017," Lewis added. Merchants with e-commerce sites are already enjoying more than 70% of their site traffic during the holiday season coming from mobile devices, he added.
"You have to seize that moment and turn that traffic into sales," Lewis said. "It is incredibly challenging and difficult, but I can't emphasize it enough. Most of what we spend our time on is helping companies build better mobile apps and mobile websites, because it is that important."
Retailers can use Facebook Messenger as a one-on-one communication tool for customers and as a way to obtain information confirming a purchase, shipping information or to send product advertisements.
"It's potentially a huge alternative to e-mail for a lot of retailers," Lewis said. "Mobile has not just changed business, it has changed all of us. At Facebook, we don't just talk about this, we live it and we push each other to take risks."
After his presentation, Lewis acknowledged that Facebook isn't likely to dive much deeper into the payments landscape beyond what it is already developing with Messenger, which added P-to-P capabilities nearly a year ago and also integrates with Uber.
"There are a lot of regulatory and legal hurdles, in my opinion, that Facebook likely won't want to enter into," Lewis said of any payment advancements. "And we don't want to get involved as the merchant of record for transactions."
That facet of payments is creating a stir for merchants seeking to understand where the liability lies for in-app and social media payments.
Still, Facebook's introduction of new "bots" in its Messenger service provides potential for future projects. The technology allows a consumer to type in a topic, and see various bots to use, potentially to order and pay for a product like flowers without providing payment card details.