Hunting and Fishing License E-Commerce

Summary

Sportsmen and women are increasingly utilizing online options to purchase hunting and fishing licenses. Ensuring that state fish and wildlife agency websites are updated to include mobile friendly formatting and platforms as well as customer information retention tools are critical to facilitating a positive consumer experience and encouraging future sales to new and returning users.

Background

Each year, more and more consumers are using the internet to purchase a broader range of goods and services. In 2022 alone, 268 million people in the United States shopped online.

The latest revolution in the field is mobile e-commerce, with a skyrocketing number of consumers using smartphones and tablets to surf the Web and shop on the go, instead of being tied to a desktop or even a laptop. There are over 270 million U.S. consumers that own smartphones and 79% of them have made an online purchase using their mobile devices in the last 6 months. A study from Pew Research indicates that 79% of all Americans shop online, which is up from just 22% in 2002.

These trends indicate a significant, permanent shift in consumer purchasing behavior, and those who fish and hunt are no exception: Approximately 8 million people, or 29 percent of recreational anglers, reported that they purchased a fishing license online in 2012—a 13 percent jump from 2009. Such developments continue to change how businesses and organizations of all sorts operate—right along with how people live and shop. The stakes are high, even in the world of hunting and recreational fishing.

Responding to these trends, fish and wildlife agencies in all 50 states offer the opportunity to purchase a hunting or fishing license online, simplifying and adding convenience to the purchasing process for customers. Many state agencies began addressing the issues and making technological advances with their license purchasing platforms to accommodate the shift towards mobile devices. According to a 2020 study conducted by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), the majority of state fish and wildlife agencies’ mobile sites for license purchases were found to be “uncomplicated” or “mostly uncomplicated” by the consumers used in the study. As technology continues to advance, state fish and wildlife agencies must adapt to meet the needs of the modern consumer.

Points of Interest

  • Today, all 50 states provide the opportunity for people to purchase hunting and fishing licenses online through a mobile device, but some platforms are more user friendly than others. States with poor mobile interfaces could be costing themselves license sales.
  • All states now have a mobile-friendly site in place for the license purchase process.
  • 35 state agencies have developed their own mobile apps that facilitate the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and provide information on hunting and fishing regulations.
  • The number of states that offer a paperless mobile license option is increasing rapidly as more and more agencies adapt to modern technology.
  • As of 2020, 40 states require a customer provide an email address – up from 25 states in 2012. However, not all states retain this information

Moving Forward

While the RBFF study made several important suggestions, an auto-renew option for licenses, language translations of the license process on mobile platforms, and email collection and retention stand out as the most critical. Additionally, simplifying the license purchasing process on mobile platforms is equally as important to help make the purchasing process even more convenient for anglers and hunters. Agencies that upgrade to websites optimized for mobile use and offer a paperless mobile license will have the opportunity to capitalize on the already booming demand for quick and convenient hunting and fishing licenses among anglers and hunters. State fish and wildlife agencies need the ability to collect email addresses on a mandatory basis to create a complete list of all license buyers in a state. A current list of license buyers’ names and email addresses can serve as an efficient, inexpensive way to connect, communicate, and nurture relationships both immediately after a purchase and on a regular basis following purchase. Like any business, effective marketing is essential to increasing sales.

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