Mobile Commerce Takes Flight: Are You Onboard?

First, there was the brick-and-mortar age, with a defined locations for commerce. Mail order catalogs and phones eventually expanded the purchasing realm, bringing it into the home. eCommerce then revolutionized in-home buying for retailers and consumers alike, improving the speed and ease of transactions, along with many other benefits. With the growth in popularity of wireless Internet on laptops, smartphones, and tablets and  the increasingly mobile nature of eCommerce we can see the future lays with  mCommerce.

Just a short time ago, mobile sites were a luxury for companies to have and for shoppers to use, but today consumers expect companies to have a mobile site in addition to their traditional Internet storefront. The number of people actually purchasing items on their mobile device is small, but growing.

Why Purchasing on Mobile Hasn’t Fully Taken Off Yet

According to research firm Experian Simmons in its “2011 Mobile Consumer Report”, 33.3 million people are using mobile devices in the shopping process. That number includes researching products and comparing prices with their phones, but only 7% of consumers have made purchases using their mobile phones.

With new mobile technology appearing seemingly everyday, consumers are concerned about the security and privacy of mobile purchases on unproven channels. These concerns have slowed the adoption of mobile payments, but are also a front and center focus for the industries brightest innovators. It parallels the start eCommerce, where consumers were initially apprehensive to shop online, but is now a burgeoning industry. The question is now whether Mobile Commerce can follow suit.

Mobile Brings New Opportunities for Customer Service

If done right, mobile commerce is an invaluable opportunity to significantly widen the spectrum of customer service. For example, to improve customer satisfaction, allow customers to scan product barcodes with their mobile devices to have access to reviews, pricing and the availability in both online and offline stores.  Customers could add items to their cart or wish list simply by scanning them into their phone.

The opportunities don’t stop there. What if consumers could access live support on their phone through programs like Facetime on the iPhone? Or if they could take a picture of a broken product and submit an RMA on the phone?

What This Means for eTailers

The number of cell phones users with smart phones is over 35% of the US market and growing.

So what does all this Mobile Commerce development mean for eTailers?

All signs point to Mobile Commerce coming on strong, and eTailers need to be prepared to offer mobile sites and functionality. They need to be mindful that of this new channel, and set up mobile sites that are both efficient and user-friendly, as well learn to take advantage of helpful features specific to the new industry.

Even if mCommerce is still unfolding, it is coming. Don’t get caught off guard, start planning your mobile strategy now!

Have a mobile strategy that works well for you? We’d love to hear about it.

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