Will 2013 by the year of mobile commerce?
Category: Technology | 07 March, 2013 13:10
Retail has been developing rapidly in recent years, with companies continuing to embrace new technologies to boost their bottom line and increase sales and revenue.
Many companies have embraced technology for small businesses, with tablets frequently being used in conjunction with social media in a bid to engage and entice new and existing customers.
The rise of the mobile device has not only been used by businesses to boost their marketing campaigns, it has now become a serious consideration when it comes payment methods. According to the third annual Sage Pay e-Business Report, which surveys 1,500 online businesses in the UK, there has been a jump in the last 12 months when it comes to mobile applications.
Mobile commerce has great potential for UK SMEs, but the change will not happen overnight. Currently Asia is the main success story when it comes to m-commerce, with consumers in many nations in the region skipping the PC era and going straight to the tablet and smartphone.
Even in Asia though m-commerce success looks more like what we're all used to than anything revolutionary. The major changes include the ability to order things from a vending machine using a smartphone or shopping with a phone or tablet.
Research by Neilson commissioned by PayPal found that both Singapore and Hong Kong are experiencing spikes in m-commerce, but many experts have said the rise of m-commerce in Asia looks a heck of a lot like e-commerce in the US.
"When retailers built their e-commerce sites, they did so without talking to customers," says Eric Feinberg, senior director, Mobile, Media and Entertainment for ForeSee, a marketing analytics firm. "As a result, mobile wasn't a factor when they built those sites out, which was a big mistake.
Mobile devices are having an impact on the UK though, with more and more retailers reporting that consumers are coming into brick and mortar stores armed with their smartphone or tablet. Many are using these to check and compare prices and specifications then going home to make a purchase, rather than doing it there and then and having to carry items around with them all day.
With mobile looking set to finally deliver on its promises this year, it is a worry that less than a quarter of online businesses are now building mobile applications. As a small business operating online, it is important to continue to grow, evolve and expand, and this is one way you can do it.
Three-quarters of firms taking part in the Sage Pay e-Business Report noted that they are optimising their sites to cope with mobile commerce. Undertaking the creation of a mobile application or making a website easily accessible for mobile users will both end up with your goods and services appearing on a mobile screen in the hands of consumers, which can only be a good thing when it comes to increasing sales and revenue.
The benefits of m-commerce
Mobile commerce has a host of benefits that can be taken advantage of by SMEs willing to embrace technology. One is that location tracking can be added to applications to allowshoppers to see the stores that sell items they are looking for. As well as this element, there is also the opportunity to market to customers visiting the shop.
With so many people almost constantly connected to the internet through their smartphones and tablets mobile commerce can increase the period of time available for people to buy goods. With Wi-Fi hotspots popping up all over the country, from trains and subways to pubs and coffee shops, people now have more opportunity than ever to browse items and goods.
Embracing this technology and setting up dedicated applications and mobile sites will help you tap into this new way of shopping.
Simon Black, chief executive of Sage Pay said: "As the UK e-commerce market continues to mature, the margins between success and failure become even finer. In this year's report, the differentiators we saw a year ago are now the norm across all retailers. This pressure to stay at the cutting edge is driving UK e-commerce to new levels of sophistication."
SMEs are starting to take advantage of mobile commerce
As with any new idea, mobile commerce has taken some time to trickle down to the smallest organisations, but it is coming to UK SMEs this year. Many larger e-commerce businesses have been moving to mobile for a number of years and the majority of small firms have seen just a fraction of sales coming from this platform.
"The results of the report prove that taking advantage of the mobile opportunity is critical to stimulating economic growth in the UK. With almost half of the businesses surveyed planning to introduce mobile apps in the coming months, Britain is poised for a bright future at the leading edge of mobile innovation," Mr Black explained.
Think about mobile marketing
The rise in m-commerce that is expected in the coming months will have a knock-on effect on mobile marketing, with the medium set to boom on the back of the rise of smartphones and tablets.
A survey conducted by Telecoms.com found that more than half of the respondents think the most important function of mobile as a marketing channel was for operators' own relationships. The Intelligence Industry Survey 2013 indicated that 53.7 per cent of employees believe that mobile and the use of it to engage and interact with consumers is a real game changer and something that should be heavily invested in.
Caroline Doussot, head of mobile marketing and advertising at Gemalto, said: "Most operators see it as a differentiator and want to invest heavily. Ownership of the mobile as a media is a strong weapon for operators in managing the lifecycle of their customers and relationships with them."
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