Making Purchases with Apps, Instead of Web-based Sites

Newley Purnell and Juro Osawa reported in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that, “Consumers in the U.S. use their mobile devices more for getting directions or listening to music than for making purchases, according to a 2015 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center.

But a handful of Asian startups are starting to change the commercial landscape by offering apps that let individuals buy and sell goods directly from one another more easily than on traditional Web-based sites like eBay. The so-called peer-to-peer commerce market is attracting funding from international investors and some companies have valuations of $1 billion or more despite the global economic slowdown.”

Purnell and Osawa explained that, “About 43% of people in South Korea said they used a smartphone to make a purchase during the past 30 days, the highest proportion in the world. Six of the top 10 mobile-shopping countries are in Asia.”

Noting how much more user friendly mobile apps can be in the sales process, the Journal article noted that, “In the past, selling goods online involved some legwork. Users had to snap photos of products with cameras, upload them onto special Web pages on their PCs, write product descriptions and conduct auctions. Some specialized companies even sprung up to act as middlemen.

“Now, peer-to-peer shopping apps like Shopee, Japan’s Mercari and Singapore-based Carousell are gaining popularity. They allow listings to be created in as little as a minute or two by having users photograph an item with a smartphone and tap out a few lines of text. GPS features allow buyers and sellers to find each other and built-in payment, chat and delivery services streamline transactions in places like Southeast Asia, where many consumers don’t have credit cards and poor infrastructure can make long-range deliveries difficult.”

Yesterday’s article added that, “‘The U.S. still thinks desktop first, but being out here, I know the future is mobile first,’ said Vinnie Lauria, a Silicon Valley veteran who in 2011 founded Golden Gate Ventures.”

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