October 1, 2010, 10:48 AM

Publisher's Letter: Mobile data and the urgent need to know

To help keep executives in retailing and other burgeoning mobile markets fully abreast of what’s truly shaping and driving mobile commerce, <i>Internet Retailer</i> this month is introducing the Mobile Commerce Data Book.

Mobile commerce is red hot and getting hotter. A year ago only 30 merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 had a mobile commerce site; today that count is close to 100. And literally thousands more retailers are joining in. By the end of 2010, as e-commerce platform vendors such as Shopatron Inc., Unbound Commerce Inc., Yahoo Small Business, mShopper and others get more of their retailer clients up and running on a mobile platform, the number of web merchants with a mobile commerce site could easily surpass 7,000, according to Internet Retailer research.

These retailers developing mobile commerce sites and apps face big challenges in designing, launching and maintaining programs that will appeal to a wide audience of consumers—from those with the latest iPhone to others with less sophisticated mobile devices. To help keep executives in retailing and other burgeoning mobile markets, including ticketing and travel, fully abreast of what’s truly shaping and driving mobile commerce, Internet Retailer this month is introducing the Mobile Commerce Data Book, our new annual publication that’s packed with the statistics, data and detailed analysis aimed at helping practitioners of all sizes maximize their time and investment in the next revolution in e-commerce.

Seven years ago, Internet Retailer, the leading source of comprehensive data on all forms of e-commerce, introduced the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, our annual ranking of the leading web merchants based on their annual sales. We introduced that guide at a time when the rapidly growing online retailing industry needed comprehensive numbers and analysis on the trends and leaders driving the market forward. We continue that mission with the Mobile Commerce Data Book. Readers will find never-before-assembled data and other comprehensive information on the market leaders in the key consumer markets that are about to make the mobile web explode.

Already eBay is garnering more than $600 million in annual sales from its mobile commerce platform and Amazon.com, the 900-pound gorilla of online retailing, reports its annual mobile sales, which include some Kindle-related revenue, is $1 billion. Some retail analysts see mobile commerce as immature and too small a piece of the market to take seriously. But that thinking is shortsighted.

Any retailer that ignores mobile commerce and isn’t looking to get into the game now does so at its peril. Today, the web remains the retailing industry’s fastest-growing sales channel, and the shift by consumers away from shopping in stores and to the Internet is only accelerating. Fueling that acceleration is the rapid rate at which consumers are trading in their current mobile devices for more sophisticated smartphones. These newer devices take advantage of the big advances in mobile browser and Internet technology, and an explosion of mobile apps, that together give shoppers even more ways to easily shop where and when they want—even in stores.

With this inaugural edition of the Mobile Commerce Data Book, and each year going forward, Internet Retailer will rank the players, assemble their key individual metrics, including sales and traffic, and explain what the numbers mean. Readers will find detailed mobile commerce statistics and full contact information on 320 retail, ticket and travel companies in this year’s guide. Next year, as the market really ramps up, we will be back with full rankings, profiles and operating metrics on the Top 500 mobile commerce companies.

Whether it’s conventional or mobile e-commerce—or soon-to-mature video commerce, the marriage of TV and online retailing—you can depend on Internet Retailer to track the data that really counts, and to tell you what it means.

mark@verticalwebmedia.com

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