October 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Publisher's Letter: Mobile matters

The convergence of the Internet and mobile phones has created another market that needs claiming: m-commerce.

Lead Photo

As I sit writing this column in my office, just blocks away a line wraps around the block outside the Apple store in downtown Chicago. The people, some of whom have camped out for days, are rabidly awaiting the latest edition of the iPhone. Similar lines are forming around the country and in eight countries where the phones go on sale today. When Apple began taking pre-orders online for the iPhone 5 a week ago, 2 million orders poured in during the first 24 hours, double the number of pre-orders Apple received for the previous 4S model on its first day, Apple says.

What Apple is great at is creating a market. It anticipates what consumers will want before they even know they want it, and puts a stake in the ground to own that market. That's what Jeff Bezos did more than a decade ago with Amazon, and look at it now.

The convergence of the Internet and mobile phones has created another market that needs claiming: m-commerce. But unlike Apple claiming its territory on the device side, few retailers, travel companies or ticketing firms have successfully laid claim to mobile commerce. In this instance, instead of a company like Apple creating a market and filling the demand, consumers are creating the market and retailers and the rest are racing to keep up. Some are. Others are barely setting foot on the track. One thing is for sure: To consumers, smartphones and the mobile web are growing indispensible, and if some retailers aren't ready to win, consumers and other, more competitive, retailers will run them over.

Bill Siwicki, managing editor of mobile commerce, examines the dichotomy among retailer factions in this month's cover story, "Retail's Rogue Wave," starting on page 28. The article is rooted in data uncovered by Vertical Web Media's research team for the newly released 2013 Internet Retailer Mobile 400, which ranks the top 400 players in mobile commerce from across the retailing, travel and ticketing industries. That data is available for purchase on Internet Retailer's own, albeit imperfect and continually evolving, mobile commerce site. I'm happy to say we're running in the race.

Much of the rest of this issue is designed to help retailers sort out their approach to mobile commerce and figure out what to do with it next. On page 34, you'll find the results of our mobile commerce survey, in which nearly 80 retailers detailed their mobile investment plans—about 70% said they are budgeting more for mobile in the coming year—and revealed how the mobile web is helping them draw traffic and convert shoppers into buyers. Elsewhere in the issue, you'll read about how to buy mobile paid search ads, different approaches to mobile site design, and more.

For even more information about implementing successful mobile marketing and m-commerce strategies plan on attending our third annual Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum in San Diego on October 8-10. For details, visit mmcf2012.com.

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