Catalogue & eBusiness reports that "despite the meteoric rise of the mobile internet and the consumer propensity to engage in mCommerce, the majority of [UK] retailers still appear hesitant to invest in the development of a definitive mCommerce strategy. Earlier this year, BT Expedite [an eCommerce platform vendor] found that just 5 percent of UK retailers have an mCommerce presence, with only 24 percent planning to develop one." [Although we don't have statistics, I believe that US merchants are not much further along the mCommerce adoption curve, either].
A likely reason for this, the magazine suggests, is that mCommerce is difficult to define, since it "encompasses any digital content, goods and services purchased and delivered on the mobile device, as well as any tangible products purchased through the handset but physically delivered. Within this, there are a variety of different channels: apps and mobile storefronts are the ones most regularly cited, but premium SMS also plays a significant role with a host of others, notably mobile coupons, mobile-enabled loyalty programs, location-based offers and mobile gift cards, also requiring consideration."
The article concludes with guidelines taken from the MEF Guide to M-Commerce, which retailers should consider following to help them succeed in this channel:
1. Leverage existing consumer behaviour (and how they are using their smartphones and SMS options)
2. Build the largest mobile install base by growing your SMS opt-in community, buying mobile advertising inventory, and using both to drive conversion
3. Leverage existing promotions and CRM strategies by using mobile APIs (application programming interfaces) that you can tie into your existing communication services and databases. "Email, SMS, MMS should all be fluid two-way opt-in channels."
4. Keep It Short and Simple on your mCommerce platform
5. Make it an intimate, personal, one-to-one channel
6. Make it a “Trojan” channel by allowing consumers to reach you directly for product and service information and guiding the consumer to the sale. You also must allow the consumer to use this channel to post reviews, insights and tips to you. Use it for surveys to gauge just-in-time feedback.
7. Build a horizontal channel by making it part of your existing media touchpoints. Do not manage your mCommerce channel in isolation.
A good example of putting this into practice is Tesco: "when launching its grocery app earlier this year, it prioritised developing the application for Nokia’s Ovi Store over Apple’s App Store, on the basis that its target demographic was more likely to have Nokia devices than iPhones. It is this type of joined-up, horizontal thinking that takes on board consumers’ existing behaviours and links it to the most appropriate mobile consumer engagement services that will help retailers to define a successful mCommerce strategy."
Our own PS: You will almost certainly need to consider an mCommerce platform vs. a smartphone app. There are strong reasons for doing one or the other, and sometimes both. The number of mCommerce solution vendors is currently small, but growing, and slow but surely the traditional multichannel order management/eCommerce solution vendors are offering mCommerce modules; we will do future posts to update you on these options.