With mobile commerce certainly being looked upon by mainy retailers as the place to be as high street footfall decreases, Andrew Dark, CEO of mobile business company mBlox discusses the opportunities that mobile commerce will provide.
Mobile commerce comes of age
Mobile commerce is by no means a new phenomenon, but has been around for the last decade. Until recently, however, mCommerce for many was more a concept than an actual reality. It’s something that has grown rapidly over the last few years, with its influence increasing exponentially in the global consumer marketplace. This growth has been highlighted by an ever-increasing amount of research looking at the development of the mobile market, showing a genuine and tangible growth that no one can ignore. Gartner, for example, has found that 428 million mobile communication devices were sold worldwide in the first quarter of 2011 while, according to IDC, this same timeframe saw the global mobile phone market grow by 19.8%. Today there are roughly 4.6 billion mobile users, many of whom are purchasing goods via this medium.
Mobile commerce isn’t just growing, it’s also developing in its nature. Smartphone technology has taken off rapidly, putting the power of the PC in most peoples’ pockets. According to IDC, the global smartphone market is on pace to grow 55% in 2011, and it is predicted that global tablet shipments will increase from 16.1 million units in 2010 to 147.2 million units in 2015 (Infinite Research). What’s more, comprehensive 3G and the proliferation of quality wi-fi is improving the user experience – providing better connectivity than ever before. The result is a golden opportunity: businesses and brands can tap into a new audience that has grown up with mobile technology and has a day-to-day dependency on it.
However, for businesses and brands looking to harness this opportunity effectively there are issues within mCommerce that must be overcome. Consumers have not yet become accustomed to brands entering the very personal environment that is their mobile phones. Employing the wrong mobile marketing strategy can be very costly to a brand’s reputation in a tough market where consumers rarely allow second chances. mCommerce has nuisances of its own and companies will be required to think differently to any activities conducted around the transactions of purely physical goods.
One of the other obvious challenges is that most websites do not yet translate well to mobile phones – with many users experiencing compatibility problems and poor levels of service and satisfaction, resulting in their custom being taken elsewhere. As companies gradually acclimatise and work to rectify this, they should seek out those platforms, already in existence, that can optimise mobile content and tailor it according to the specific device of each consumer.
Another issue is privacy. A company’s failure to understand the importance of offering an “opt in” option, where the customer grants permission for a business to obtain and utilise their transaction and locational information, will carry repercussions. New privacy legislation in the EU and US could result in companies that have not actively requested permission from the user having to opt consumers out of existing applications they have subscribed to and start from scratch (targeting these consumers to opt in again), which could prove to be very costly.
To overcome these issues organisations need to understand the ethical and legal concerns of interacting with users on their personal devices, as customers will gravitate to those brands and businesses they can trust. Integrity, security and clarity have to be central to a company’s ethos, combined with intelligent, targeted marketing strategies and the right technology to build services and applications better and quicker. If the right strategy is taken, there’s no reason why businesses and brands should not harness the growing consumer base increasingly moving its attention towards mobile devices.