The recent developments in mobile technology signify a huge shift in the way we consume. Being able to access information on the go means customers can now source items before purchase, look up information on competitor products while in store, compare prices and share their purchase experience with other shoppers. It is no longer enough […]
The recent developments in mobile technology signify a huge shift in the way we consume. Being able to access information on the go means customers can now source items before purchase, look up information on competitor products while in store, compare prices and share their purchase experience with other shoppers.
It is no longer enough for consumers to be able to access websites via their smartphones when out and about. The smaller screens necessitate simplified transactions. A strong trend in mobile commerce is helping consumers simplify their lives when it comes to making purchases on the go.
How is it being used around the world?
Japan is arguably the world leader for m-commerce, where it has been largely adopted into mainstream society. With 83% of mobile subscribers using internet enabled phones there are almost 93 million Japanese people equipped to use m-commerce. These numbers have led to the evolution of a fully fledged mobile phone culture called “Keitai”. It is estimated that 20% of commuters at a major Japanese train station are purchasing their tickets electronically. Other low cost purchases, such as kiosk, food and convenience store purchases can be made with mobile phones through the use of near-location scanning and Quick Response (QR) codes. These enable mobile phone users to either touch their mobile phone to a scanning device, which automates a transaction through their linked bank accounts, or to scan a barcode which then charges the corresponding amount for the transaction to the customer’s account. Banks functioning exclusively around the m-commerce framework have already been established in Japan. Some believe Japan is an indicator of things to come in Western Society. But they’re not the only ones on the m-commerce bandwagon.
In Scandinavia this technology has been in use for some time. While it is not used as widely as in the mobile crazy Japan, recently more than half of $15 million dollars donated for the Haitian Earthquake fund was generate by mobiles.
M-commerce is also being used with great success in developing countries, specifically in Africa. In South Africa where only 11 million people have a bank account and 30 million have a mobile phone, m-commerce application WIZZIT functions as a means for people to pay bills and process transactions, with the phone account serving a similar purpose to a traditional bank account. This allows consumers to transfer funds to international bank accounts and manage household expenses via their mobile phone, essentially removing the need for a bank account and negating the need to physically visit a bank. Kenya’s M-PESA has provided a new business model for m-commerce, essentially combining the services of a mobile phone carrier and a bank.
How is it being used in Australia?
With the iPhone revolutionising the Australian smartphone market in recent years, and a wave of similar products aentering the marketplace, Australian consumers are becoming increasingly aware of mobile technologies. It would seem that Australia is prepared to adopt new mobile technologies as we are brought rapidly up to speed with international markets.
Australian online retailers are now adapting their e-commerce business models to include m-commerce. We are seeing a change in the way consumers make purchases, conduct their pre-purchase search and how they interact with brands. With the integration of smartphone Apps, and a huge number of international sellers excelling in the e-commerce space, Australian consumers are well placed to benefit from the latest and greatest in mobile commerce technology.
For Australian comparison engine Lasoo.com.au, whose offer is centred on customers being able to browse across several retailers to find the best offer, the customer’s ability to search from a mobile device is critical. This has led to the development of a smartphone app, enabling the consumer to search for items while out and about. Using mobile technology to keep ahead of the market means Lasoo has been able to seamlessly move into the world of m-commerce. At the time of writing, the Lasoo iPhone app had had more than 70,000 downloads.
Where to next?
As consumers are not satisfied with sacrificing information in favour of a fast checkout, online retailers are evolving their offering to keep up with consumer demand. Like Lasoo, some retailers are leading the way, developing apps which retain all the key information for purchases while managing to streamline the online shopping experience. Retailers are releasing apps which enable price comparisons, sourcing and even purchasing items to all be completed via a single smartphone application, minimising the trouble for shoppers.
In May 2010, MasterCard launched Software Development Kits and a development portal to encourage innovation in the field of mobile commerce, further proof that the mobile movement is quickly gathering momentum.
As we move towards a reality where one device will function as phone, wallet, bank, data and music device, television and social connection to the world we will see developments happening rapidly. The launch of Apple’s iPad also provides new opportunities for developers, with its larger screen size and a huge array of apps already compatible with the device, plus many more slated for development.
This may mean that the long touted “Year of the Mobile” could finally be just around the corner.
At the upcoming Online Retailer Expo & Conference, Conference Pass holders are entitled to attend a free Mobile Retail Briefing at 5pm on Tuesday 6 July, featuring:
Optimising for mobile
Overseas trends in m commerce
Killer retail apps
Mobile payment systems
Mobile search tips
Visit www.onlineretailer.net to find out more.