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M-Commerce Is Still in Its Infancy

Shopping on the go getting off the ground

More than 70 million US mobile phone users will access the Internet from their device in 2009, eMarketer forecasts. And a number of recognized retail brands have launched mobile commerce programs so they can be where their customers go.

Nevertheless, mobile commerce is still immature. Web-enabled mobile phone users are much more likely to employ their devices to get weather forecasts, read news, find movie times and bank online than to buy products.

“A number of retailers and third-party developers have introduced mobile apps that give consumers powerful new shopping tools and added convenience,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Mobile Commerce: Ahead of Its Time.” “But most retailers are either standing on the sidelines or in the midst of planning their mobile commerce strategy.”

Retailers cite capital constraints and issues with consumer privacy and security as the biggest obstacles standing in the way of further m-commerce efforts, according to an April 2009 survey by RIS News.

“A major obstacle not addressed directly by the RIS survey is the lack of standardization among smartphone browsers and operating systems,” noted Mr. Grau. “Mobile app developers need to carefully pick and choose where they think they can get the best return for their effort.”

Despite retailers’ meager efforts and consumer concerns about the difficulties of mobile shopping, consumers are willing to make some purchases via mobile. According to Billing Revolution, items that appeal to on-the-go consumers and involve small amounts of money, such as pizza and movie tickets, are at the top of the list.

Some early m-commerce adopters have also used their mobile phones to buy higher-consideration goods such as consumer electronics, apparel and jewelry, according to a March 2009 PriceGrabber.com survey.

Savvy retailers should not neglect this channel, because mobile shoppers are valuable customers. People who download mobile applications, including shopping apps, are a highly coveted consumer segment. Mobile buyers tend to be repeat purchasers with a higher order value than average consumer, and it can be important for them to complete transactions with ease even if it means spending more.

Download the “Mobile Commerce: Ahead of Its Time” report today for answers to these key questions:

  • How has mobile commerce changed consumer shopping behavior?
  • What types of products do mobile phone users purchase from their devices?
  • What is the state of mobile commerce adoption among retailers?
  • What obstacles prevent more consumers from shopping via mobile?

Check out today’s other article, “European Online Ad Spend Trends Slowly Up.”

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