June 1, 2006, 12:00 AM

A live wire for wireless commerce

Retailers who want to offer mobile e-commerce must be patient and build a multi-channel strategy that changes as the market builds momentum, American Greetings Interactive senior vice president Bryan T. Biniak will tell the IR2006 conference in Chicago.

 

With more than 200 million subscribers nationwide plugged into wireless telecommunications networks and 63 million using their cells phones and PDAs to download information, web retailers can’t ignore the upcoming opportunity in mobile e-commerce.

But to succeed, web retailers must build a multi-channel strategy that changes as the market builds momentum, American Greetings Interactive senior vice president Bryan T. Biniak will tell attendees at the Internet Retailer 2006 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago June 5-7.

Consumers’ use of wireless web and Bluetooth-enabled cell phones or handheld devices to shop online was expected to catch on before now. But spotty cell phone coverage, a lack of standards, limited payment options and other factors produced only a few pilot projects and no widespread acceptance among consumers and retailers.

Today, however, the nation’s wireless infrastructure is more established and lower fees and more powerful cell phones and handheld devices are resulting in record numbers of wireless users. As a result, mobile commerce is beginning to take hold and will grow over time. “We are probably 18 months away from turning the next corner,” says Biniak, who will speak at the general session “Wireless Web: Cashing In When the Buying Impulse Strikes” at 10:45 a.m. on June 6.

The primary product for mobile commerce today is information. AG Interactive, the mobile commerce arm of American Greetings Corp., has almost 3 million paid subscribers who purchase e-greeting cards, wallpaper, ring tones and other content. In FY 2006, American Greetings grew its subscriber base by about 20% and increased revenue by 55% to $90 million. “Content is the principal product mobile commerce is offering U.S. consumers today,” Biniak says. “U.S. wireless data revenues are doubling on an annual basis.”

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