Mobile channel proves essential during COVID-19

Mobile solutions have continued to grow in popularity for many years, and this trend shows no signs of slowing, with mobile app spending worldwide predicted to double by 2024. However, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe so too are a host of economic and cultural changes, as billions of people around the world are confined to their homes under quarantine measures. This has caused time spent on mobile channels to significantly increase, with the average number of weekly hours increasing by as much as 30%.

It's crucial to look more closely at the overall statistics and examine the specific trends that are emerging. Although overall mobile usage has increased it coincides with a collapse in people’s normal routines and habits which has affected mobile behavior in turn.

Business and education apps become invaluable

Many organizations have scrambled to convert essential operations from physical to digital following quarantine measures and the widespread closures of businesses, public services and educational institutions. This has caused mobile downloads for business apps to surge by 85% in Italy after quarantine measures were imposed, and the trend continues to replicate across other countries. 

Hosting the occasional remote meeting doesn’t pose a major challenge but organizations are now attempting to replicate entire service and delivery models online and are leaning on a range of supportive mobile tools to do so. 

Zoom has garnered much attention and ranked the number 1 download in 35 countries. Business tools that aid workflows and delivery, digital whiteboards that support online workshops and messaging tools such as Slack are all helping to keep collaboration and innovation alive. Shelter-in-place policies have also affected personal consumer trends, as many attempt to use their time at home to learn new skills and take up courses. 

Although the quarantine measures won’t last forever, the popularity of this sector is likely to continue as many businesses are expected to retain elements of telework into the future. In addition, many have noticed new efficiencies develop as a result of the new tools they’ve switched to which will be worked into longer-term practice.

From mall to mobile: the inevitable retail revolution

Although ecommerce has been gaining momentum for many years, brick-and-mortar stores remained a significant share of the market. However, as shopping centres and high street retailers have been forced to close their shutters, consumers have gone online to purchase their goods. There has been an inevitable shift in trending product categories as the world stocks up on supplies for the lockdown. Research from Criteo found that webcams, loungewear, grooming products, animal supplies and baking equipment saw the biggest jumps in demand in the US.

However, within these trends the hallmarks of mobile ecommerce apps remain true: Clear product information, a reliable shopping experience, and strong UX and UI. Retailers must also ensure their mobile services can cope with the sudden uptick in online shoppers and a well-built mobile framework helps to prevent sluggish performance.  

In addition, quarantine measures have disrupted the availability of staff and supply chains that stretch across borders. Companies must ensure they can fulfill client orders and that clear communication is maintained to boost customer experience. In-built digital assistants and chatbots can be relied on more than ever to keep customer interactions crystal clear. 

VOD and gaming: a spike in demand for digital entertainment

Many have found isolation measures a difficult adjustment, and digital entertainment has seen a significant spike during lockdown in demand as people search for ways to switch off and relax for a brief period. 

Nielson predicts streaming will rise by 60% across the major video on demand (VOD) providers during isolation. Many providers are releasing new content ahead of schedule to keep up with the increased demand. Streaming platforms must be sure service remains reliable during this time to retain customer subscriptions. 

Gaming apps have also proved popular, with global downloads already showing a 39% increase. While one-player games like Candy Crush might have been the perfect distraction during a busy commute, people are now craving interactive games they can play with friends and family to stay connected. Multi-player digital games such as Jackbox and Uno have seen their popularity boosted during these times.

Trends that are shaping the future

Although these trends have taken shape rapidly, global markets and cultural habits have been disrupted so significantly that these are likely to form lasting trends for mobile channels. Service providers must be aware of customers' changing needs and new habits. 

Whether it’s tailoring an existing mobile service to better suit the current times, ensuring mobile services can cope with increased demand or rolling-out an entirely new service, the quality of mobile experiences will be a critical success factor. 

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