By Jason Cross, marketing director, Incentivated
Like e-commerce before it, m-commerce (mobile commerce) is on the cusp of becoming a multi-billion pound industry, and it’s time for retailers to take notice and seize the opportunity. Recent statistics show that m-commerce is an area that is growing rapidly.
To give you a few statistics, Google saw a threefold increase in retail-related search terms in the past year, while eBay is reportedly selling an item per second via mobile. Around 10% of all orders on Ocado come from its app; House of Fraser has seen 600% increase in mobile sales since June 2010 and 19% of bets at PaddyPower are now made via its mobile site. In total, one third of UK shoppers engaged in m-commerce activity during Christmas 2010.
These statistics show that, contrary to retailers expectations, payment security is not the biggest issue in m-commerce, with only 13% saying that is the reason they’re not using m-commerce, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). The revolution is being consumer-driven, with most happy to use their credit cards to make purchases via mobile, so there is some level of trust.
The real barrier is the experience itself, with almost half of respondents who have never shopped on the phone reporting, in a survey by Lightspeed last year, that they prefer shopping on their computer.
As we can see from actual consumer purchasing behaviour, many people are shopping via their phones despite retailers not yet providing them with a mobile-optimised channel.
Google, at IAB Engage for Mobile 2011, highlighted that 50% of all mobile site visits start with search, and over 80% of the sites that they serve following that search query are NOT mobile optimised.
With the increase in smartphone adoption through phone contract replacement cycles and mobile-friendly commerce-enabled sites, the numbers and revenues being experienced at the moment are merely a very small start.
How best to implement m-commerce solutions to increase ROI.
The good news to bear in mind, given Google’s reports on the number of mobile sites out there, is that it’s not too late to be early (relative to your competitors) to adopt a mobile strategy.
Early-mover advantages are still there to be claimed as consumers explore opportunities in mobile commerce – perhaps counter-intuitively to their real-world and e-commerce shopping patterns.
The best advice is to start with the small and achievable things that will provide early revenues, without falling for too much hype.
Start by ensuring that your website is optimised for mobile phones to browse easily. This is not straightforward, bearing in mind factors including whether phones are touchscreen, rotate to landscape, navigate by trackball or use an ‘enter’ button etc, let alone variations in screen size, flash capability and so on. Use a mobile specialist to implement this properly, as you could need 10 or 20 different presentation layers for mobile.
Website or App? This is a perennial question with no ‘right’ answer. It will depend upon your requirements and customers. Both can have transactional functionality added. Websites can reach over 90% of the population, as just about every phone can access the web – whereas apps need iterative development (and cost) for each additional operating system included. Remember: an iPhone app is inaccessible to 90% of the UK population.
For retailers with a physical presence, think about simple things that can help drive customers to your stores – alerts, messaging, store locater maps etc. Marks and Spencer send out weekly SMS alerts to opted-in customers promoting their “dine in for £10” offers. Research has shown that this positively impacts physical retail sales visits and basket sizes.
Stand-alone or integrated? Once you’ve committed to a commerce-enabled site, you need to consider whether it operates as a channel in its own right, separate from your existing e-commerce back office functionality, or whether you have to integrate it into a legacy system that may need significant re-engineering to implement.
Automatic re-directs via APIs. Having gone to the trouble of optimising your website, ensure that when people enter your desktop URL that the site recognises:
- that a mobile device is accessing your site (even at deep links, not just on the home page)
- that it recognises the mobile make/model and delivers the appropriate presentation layer
- make sure you have m.webaddress.com and www.webaddress.mobi mobile URLs in place
Don’t forget search. Once your solution is in place, ensure that your search engine messaging makes the point to searches on mobile devices that they can visit the mobile version of your site. This still positively impacts on site visit decisions against your competitors.
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