September 30, 2011, 12:00 AM

Amazon conquers the mobile universe

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Still, shoppers walking around stores with smartphones represent a threat as well as an opportunity, says Tilzer of Staples. A customer in a Staples store can check prices at Office Depot, and vice versa. "It forces us to continue to challenge ourselves to make shopping even easier and provide even more value to our customers' business," he says.

Onward to tablets

Some merchants are upping their mobile game beyond most others by taking the next step after sites and smartphone apps—tablet apps. And today, that's an iPad app as Apple's mega-popular device by far dominates the tablet market. has released two apps for the iPad, one a standard version of its store optimized for presentation on the iPad and the other, dubbed Windowshop, a version of the store that emphasizes browsing by 40 categories. Shoppers view Windowshop with the iPad in horizontal orientation. It features product images across the screen and enables shoppers to swipe the screen to go up, down, left or right through myriad listings. Shoppers can complete purchases through both apps.

"The way consumers use tablets is generally different from the way they use their mobile phones," says Hall of "Oftentimes they are in a more relaxed setting—on the couch—with more time to spend. Because of this, we've developed apps like Amazon Windowshop that take advantage of the size and unique versatility of the iPad to provide a flowing, more discoverable browse experience."

Crutchfield soon will be unveiling an iPad app. Like many retailers with iPad apps, it will be emphasizing its product catalog.

"The genesis for it comes out of the digital version of our catalog we provide now. It's an outgrowth of that and the experience we've had with the mobile site," says Cabell at Crutchfield.

"Our catalog is one of the things that makes Crutchfield different in our space. We're trying to meet customers where they are engaging with us and provide a unique experience that is really optimized for the tablet. And to take advantage of the new technology and new design techniques to really make our print catalog come alive in a new, more interactive way."

Now is the time

Whether it's through tablet apps, smartphone apps or m-commerce sites, retailers, travel companies and tickets sellers in The Mobile Commerce Top 300 are raking it in, showing that mobile commerce is quickly becoming a mainstream activity.

"Mobile commerce will become commonplace among consumers," says Grover of "I expect it to be larger than PC purchases."

The explosive sales of web-enabled smartphones in recent years, and of tablets since the introduction of Apple's iPad, lend credence to that bold prediction, as does the rapid increase in mobile sales. Mobile commerce is only going to get bigger, and now is the time to be a player, and aim for the kind of success that leads to membership in The Mobile Commerce Top 300.

Comments | 4 Responses

  • The math on the market sizes seems erroneous. According to this article, the 2010 m-commerce market size is $2.62 billion. The 2011E m-commerce market size is expected to grow to $5.37 billion. In 2011, Amazon will hit $2 billion of m-commerce revenue, and $4 billion of m-commerce will be transacted through eBay. I realize that eBay only get a fraction of those revenues -- $370 million is cited -- but regardless, $4 billion of m-commerce transaction are still happening. That implies that m-commerce transactions through Amazon and eBay alone is greater (~$6.0 billion) than the overall m-commerce market for 2011 (~$5.37 billion) -- how is this possible? The only way for this to make sense if that eBay sells at the very minimum $0.63 billion through Amazon, or some kind of double-counting of that nature. Does anyone know how this data reconciles? Thanks! Ross

  • The $5.37 billion estimate for 2011 does not include eBay; with eBay the 2011 estimate would be $9.37 billion. Don Davis, Internet Retailer

  • Don, thanks for the quick reply. What is the rationale for excluding eBay from the aggregate of the m-commerce market? Similarly, is $9.37 billion figure inclusive, or estimated to be so, of all m-commerce revenues? Or is that some measurable subset of the m-commerce market, with the actual market size being potentially much greater? Also, the article seems to imply that eBay's cut of it's ~$4.0 billion in sales is included in the $5.37 billion 2011E figure ("That would mean that eBay in 2011 will make $370 million in mobile revenue"). Is it the case then that the mobile commerce market is expected to be $9.0 billion (rather than $9.37 billion) in 2011? Thanks, Ross

  • The rationale is the same for why Internet Retailer does not rank eBay in the Top 500 ranking of online retailers: eBay is not a retailer itself. It is a platform through which other retailers (and individuals) sell. The sales through eBay are counted as sales by the merchants that are actually making the sales. If we counted the sales for the many eBay merchants and then counted eBay's total merchandise sales we would be double-counting eBay sales. That's why we don't include eBay in the rankings. But we do count sales on eBay by all the merchants that sell on that marketplace. Don Davis, Internet Retailer

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