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Is mobile shopping safe?

By Shruti Puri
Last updated on: July 09, 2015 17:15 IST
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Yes, if you follow certain safety measures, says Shruti Puri. Here are some rules you must follow.

Photograph: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

Shopping via mobile phones is safe, just like your secured online shopping. Secured e-tailers and mobile wallets (such as Paytm, Google Wallet, TinyOwl and many more) are making mobile shopping popular with every passing day. In fact, to make the shopping deals sweeter, mobile wallets are also offering attractive offers such as cash back, discounts, etc. Empirical studies show that most people, nowadays, are not attached to brands and that’s why they shop for those products or services through their mobiles that come with cash back and other offers, providing them value addition while shopping.

How to be safe while shopping  online using your smartphone or tablet?

Mobile shopping can be done safely either through debit/credit cards or through mobile payment providers/mobile wallet services. Here are some general guidelines, following which you can shop online from your mobile device safely and securely.

1. Mobile anti-virus protection

There has been a significant rise in mobile malware. That’s why it is necessary to have proper security software in your tablet or smartphone. Always look for a product that blocks shady websites, scans apps for spyware as well as viruses, offers automatic updates and also provides lost-device protection.

2. Update browser app regularly

Mobile browsers, no matter what you are using (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera), must be updated routinely. Latest browser updates come with built-in security features that protect your mobile from malware. It is advised to check app notifications regularly and keep up with them.

3. Use only trustworthy shopping apps

There are many renowned online mobile shopping sites and big merchants such as eBay, Amazon, Google, Flipkart and many more that have created applications for shopping easily. It is advisable to download shopping apps only from the official sites such as iTunes, Google Play, etc. Check authenticity of an app before downloading by reading its ratings, reviews and developer information. Always scan the app (either recently downloaded or existing ones in your smartphone/tablet) for spyware or viruses. If you are making the payment through mobile banking, use secured mobile banking apps for the same.

4. Avoid mobile shopping through public Wi-Fi

When you are shopping using your smartphone and you are using internet via public Wi-Fi, it is always desirable to use your data connection rather than using the shared Wi-Fi. Even when you are at home and using your personal Wi-Fi connection, it is better to use a WPA2-protected network with enabled encryption settings.

5. Avoid opening retail emails from mobile devices

Retail emails are something one can’t avoid. The menace gets over the head during holidays. Many come with very attractive offers. However, studies have found out that many of these retail emails are nothing but phishing scams. So, it is prudent for you to give these retail mails a miss while commuting and opening them through mobile devices. It is advisable to check these emails on PCs or laptops to avoid any invitation to a malware.

6. Capture payment confirmation window

It is always desirable for a mobile shopper to capture payment confirmation window that pops up once you click purchase button or commit buying a product or service. You receive a payment confirmation window that requests printing a copy of the record, asking you to print. When you are commuting, it is not a practical option for you. In that case, take a screen capture of the window and email the same to your own inbox. Therefore, there’s a document of the purchase with you as a proof, in case any problem crops up in the delivery of the product.

Extent of mobile shopping world over

Though the concept of mobile wallet is relatively new in India, they are an established concept in advanced economies.

New data released by Centre for Economics and Business Research and Zapp shows that over one-fifth of the online shopping sales in United Kingdom take place while customers are commuting through tubes or other transport means. In London, the commuters spend 44 Pounds per week and in UK, on an average, per week spending is 36 Pounds. The total commuter commerce in the UK amounts to 9.3 billion Pounds per year and the trend is increasing with every passing day. In terms of shopping through mobiles and tablets, British people mostly buy clothing materials, followed by digital downloads, entertainment media, groceries and takeaways.

Gartner survey finds out that in 2015, 22 per cent of the digital commerce revenue comes from mobile commerce alone. It predicted that by the year 2017, due to enhanced mobile engagement of US consumers this percentage will increase to 50 per cent of US digital commerce revenue. In value terms, Gartner report predicts that US $2 billion online shopping will take place through mobile devices alone.

In Australia, $4 billion worth of mobile shopping takes place every year. As per Deloitte Access Economics report, mobile shopping as percentage of total online sales increased from 9.5 per cent in 2012 to 19 per cent in 2013 and further to 27 per cent (worth $16 billion) in 2014. Though the mobile shopping trend in Australia is booming but there is still enough potential of growth in the coming years.

Future of mobile shopping in India

An Assocham-PwC study on online shopping shows that online shoppers spend around Rs 6,000 per year currently. In 2014, the total number of consumers who bought online was around 40 million and in 2015 the number is expected to increase to 65 million. E-commerce industry in India is valued at around Rs 108,167 crore ($17 billion) and is expected to reach $100 billion mark or Rs 636,281 crore in five years.

Assocham Secretary General, D S Rawat, said that major growth in ecommerce will come from smartphone and tablet shoppers. He further states that even at the wake of 2015, mobile shopping accounted for 11 per cent of the total sales of e-commerce and is expected to reach 25 per cent by 2017. Maximum e-commerce transactions take place in travel and tourism sector. Around 75 per cent of the sector’s business is done through e-commerce.

Indian e-commerce behemoth Snapdeal’s CEO, Kunal Bahl, has said that 70 per cent of purchase on their site is taking place through mobile and tablet shopping. Bahl expects this percentage to increase to 90 per cent in the coming two years. In fact, eBay has also witnessed a similar trend as sales through mobile shopping from its site have increased 30 folds in just one year time.

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Shruti Puri