Mobile commerce market on the rise
Mobile commerce is a vast and diverse market. It not only includes consumers that use the mobile web to purchase goods, it encompasses mobile applications, mobile barcode scanning, mobile payments and other solutions that help consumers use their smartphones to research, purchase or pay for goods.
According to a recent Arc Worldwide study, the inherent diversity in the mcommerce climate is leading to a rapidly growing mobile commerce market. The report found approximately 50 percent of U.S. consumers are using mcommerce tools in some fashion. The rapidly expanding mcommerce market can be a major challenge for many businesses, and retailers need to respond by optimizing their marketing efforts for the platform.
Mobile infrastructure has created opportunities for mobile commerce in many developing countries as well.
"We are able to issue mobile-linked debit cards to consumers in the most remote areas of developing countries, places we could never have contemplated issuing cards just a few years ago, and provide access via mobile phones to online bill payment, international remittance and other services that have been incredibly transformative in those communities while providing retailers access to millions of additional consumers," said Jeff Foster, founder and CEO of Cardplatforms, LLC.
The impact of mcommerce in developing countries is beginning to affect the U.S. market by generating a more diverse range of purchasing options.
"Mobile shopping has created multiple paths to purchase. It has completely transformed the way people research and purchase products. Companies looking to crack the 'mobile code' must understand shoppers' unique demands by category and shopper type," said William Rosen, president and chief creative officer of Arc Worldwide.
For a number of companies, the growing complexity of the mcommerce market is creating new opportunities to develop solutions that meet every retail need through the mobile platform.
"Merchant service providers are quickly adding mobile marketing to their suite of services in an attempt to mobilize all functions currently performed in the retail setting. Whether processing mobile payments or promoting select products, mobile penetration is fast becoming the preferred method of customer contact," said Opticard Payment Services' Andrew Kawa.
Essentially, two types of mobile shoppers are currently prevalent - heavy and light - the Arc Worldwide report said. Companies need to focus on reaching both types of mobile shoppers when they create mcommerce marketing initiatives. Heavy mobile shoppers have become enthralled by the capabilities of their mobile platforms and will use robust applications and servers to leverage the platform's capabilities. Light mobile shoppers, on the other hand, will only use their mobile phones for ecommerce when they are in a hurry and do not have any other options.
Molly Garris, digital strategy manager of Arc Worldwide, said the group of heavy mcommerce users is relatively small. However, most businesses tend to focus their marketing and development efforts on the demographic, leaving light mcommerce shoppers without much advertising coverage. Garris said merchants should develop mobile websites and applications designed to reach both audiences.
Many businesses are beginning to recognize the importance of the mobile platform as a commerce tool, even if they are not yet embracing its potential. According to a recent survey performed by Vanson Bourne, 87 percent of retailers claim mcommerce is already impacting their brick-and-mortar strategies, or will do so within the next two years. However, 28 percent of respondents said they still do not have a mobile commerce strategy in place.