Online merchants must embrace mobile commerce technology to deal with demand, says Digital River

According to a Motorola report more than half of Internet users worldwide made a mobile device part of their shopping activities in December 2009. Younger users, referred to in the report as Generation Y, were three times more likely to have made a mobile purchase over the past two weeks than members of the baby boom generation.

Digital River, a mobile commerce (m-commerce) specialist, argues that despite the encouraging figures in this report, many businesses are only just getting started with m-commerce and will need to get up to speed quick or risk being left behind. Younger consumers are increasingly willing to shop in new ways businesses serious about embracing new technology need to act now to diversify their multi-channel sales strategies, said John Strosahl, senior vice president of Europe with Digital River. Rapidly evolving communications technology and the increasing proliferation of smartphones indicate that sometime in the not-so-distant future, m-commerce is going to be as mainstream as its online counterpart. This means there is a huge opportunity for ambitious merchants to test the waters early and establish themselves as market leaders.

Digital River notes that as mobile technology continues to advance, merchants need to ensure their mobile strategies are in sync with their larger business goals to drive the best overall result. If reaching a large audience is a key goal, companies should consider launching an m-commerce site, which is accessible by anyone with an Internet-enabled mobile device. Companies wishing for alternative or complementary mobile solutions might consider creating e-commerce applications.

Apps provide a fast, sophisticated shopping experience because software is stored right on the handset. Personalised services are available through integration with handset features like contacts. And existing apps and location-based services can be provided via GPS navigation, continued Strosahl. However, the downside to e-commerce applications is that they are often specific to certain brands of smartphones. While there are differences between e-commerce applications for smartphones and m-commerce sites, companies need to first determine their mobile goals in order to choose the approach or combination of approaches that is most appropriate for their business.

Strosahl continued, Businesses choosing to take a back seat to see how the m-commerce situation turns out may take comfort from the fact that the majority of their competitors are either watching from the sidelines or casually beginning to formulate their m-commerce strategies. While there are some benefits to learning from mobile trend setters, businesses serious about attracting next generation consumers need to test the market early and establish their brand if they want to be successful in the m-commerce arena.


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