Forty percent of Americans will subscribe to a wireless web service by 2006, but wireless will account for less than 2% of online purchases, according to new research by Jupiter Media Metrix. Jupiter analysts cite “consumer apathy” more than wireless’ current limits including slow networks as the primary reason wireless shopping is getting off to a slow start. A full 36% of online consumers polled by Jupiter said they avoid shopping via wireless because of high access costs. “Carriers and merchants must change strategies to focus on simple text messaging and text-enhanced voice services until Americans are more comfortable with using the wireless Internet,” says Jupiter analyst Dylan Brooks.
Until that day, the biggest retail winners in the wireless channel will be those that benefit from personalization, time and location sensitivity, says Brooks, such as timely gift items, entertainment, and airline tickets. “Mobile commerce will be driven by a desire for instant gratification, not the desire to do extensive research, which fueled the early adoption of online commerce,” Brooks says. However, Jupiter analysts predict that although actual transactions on wireless devices are likely to be small in number in the short-term, shopping-related content on mobile devices will influence online sales via PCs and in-store sales to the tune of about $39 billion by 2006. Internet-enabled handheld devices will play key roles in gaining customer data, in promotions and as a way to facilitate customer contact to support online and offline transactions, says Brooks.