Mobile commerce the future of retail

When you think about the advantages that e-commerce delivers, it comes down to four primary pillars of value: convenience, scale, cost effectiveness and access. 

E-commerce has always been about bringing the consumption experience to the consumer versus the consumer going to the experience.  With advances in mobile technology, bringing the experience to the consumer now means bringing it to their handset.  Consumers increasingly favour shopping and buying in an anytime, anywhere scenario and they reward sellers that cater to their preferences for convenience and accessibility when they click the buy button.  Even though mobile commerce is still an emerging trend, there are a number of reasons merchants need to begin testing the waters now

Several global market dynamics already are signaling that mobile commerce is here to stay just the pure volume of mobile devices coming into the marketplace is an indicator.  In 2008, approximately four times as many mobile devices shipped worldwide as compared to the volume of PCs. Not only are mobile sales up but so is mobile usage.  Many research firms indicate that mobile phone usage in Europe is among the highest of any geography in the world.  In fact, Forrester Research suggests that more than 85 percent of European adults use a mobile phone.  And in 2008, almost half of these Europeans accessed the Internet from a broadband connection through a mobile device at least once a week, if not every day.  When you add smarter phones, bigger screens and faster networks to these market dynamics, it is not hard to see that many forces are converging to create a considerable growth opportunity for online merchants.

For retailers that already have an online presence, finding a cost-effective m-commerce solution may be as simple as getting assistance from their existing e-commerce provider many of which are now introducing advanced mobile commerce solutions that simply plug into existing online stores.  By detecting when a consumer accesses an e-store via a handheld device, these solutions are able to display only the most relevant features of a mobile shopping experience, including a choice of secure, mobile friendly payment methods.  Because the mobile store interfaces with the same set of features and information as the online store, the shopping experience is consistent and helps the retailer maintain and build its brand.

Beyond providing a consistent and easy-to-use shopping experience, a mobile commerce solution should also offer effective tracking and reporting tools. These tools can help retailers confidently decide to either expand their mobile solutions with increased marketing support, or allow them to grow organically until a proactive push makes more sense for their businesses. More importantly, tracking tools can help retailers determine if their investment in m-commerce was a wise and valuable one.

Todays research suggests that mobile shopping is likely to follow an adoption pattern similar to what e-commerce exhibited about 10-15 years ago.  By all indicators, it appears that sometime in the not so distant future mobile shopping is going to be as mainstream as its online counterpart.  As smartphones and networks continue to become more powerful, they are making it easier and easier for users to make the shift from simply browsing to buying everything from movie tickets to PCs and accompanying accessories.

Even though mobile commerce is still nascent, its potential is great.  Now is the ideal time for businesses to act aggressively to diversify their multi-channel sales strategies by planning or launching a mobile commerce solution.  Even better, retailers can get a jump-start on a shopping movement that is evolving quickly, capture the loyalties of early adopters and position themselves as mobile and technology leaders.

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