June 21, 2010, 2:50 PM

It’s no longer time to sit on the sidelines

If you’re a retailer taking a wait-and-see attitude about m-commerce, what are you waiting for?

If Venda Inc. and Yahoo Inc. make good on their predictions of this week and last, the m-commerce universe will explode in the second half of 2010.

The big news in mobile commerce in the last week is partnering: E-commerce powerhouse Venda and m-commerce pioneer Digby will now offer Venda’s hundreds of clients an m-commerce platform, and Venda CEO Jeff Max told Internet Retailer he expects to have nearly 200 m-commerce sites up and running by year’s end. Then I broke the news that search giant Yahoo and m-commerce player Unbound Commerce have partnered to offer Yahoo’s 45,000 Yahoo Stores e-commerce platform clients an m-commerce platform. Yahoo’s lead e-commerce executive, Paul Boisvert, predicts 250 m-commerce sites come December.

Today, according to Internet Retailer’s m-commerce research, 156 retailers operate 149 m-commerce sites and 71 mobile apps. If the predictions come true, the total number of retailers in mobile commerce would increase by 288% in only six months. And that’s not counting all the other retailers with sites and apps in the pipeline at other m-commerce technology providers.

If you’re a retailer sitting on the sidelines with a wait-and-see attitude, my question to you is, what are you waiting for? The first retailers to stake a claim in m-commerce will immediately have an advantage over their competitors. The first will be the ones to learn what works best, to claim all of the mobile consumers looking for the optimized sites and apps on which to shop, and to reap sales in the fourth channel.

Two examples speak for themselves. EBay Inc. did $600 million in sales in its mobile channel in 2009. And at The Finish Line Inc., 3% of its total web revenue is now coming from its mobile channel. In 2009, the retailer earned $80.2 million in web sales, according to Internet Retailer estimates. Say it made the same in 2010, and its m-commerce sales maintained at 3%. That would add up to $2.4 million in mobile sales.

If you don’t at least have a mobile strategy in place, you’re behind the times. This is not a fad, it’s a reflection of where society is moving, which is to mobile.

If you need help planning or optimizing, consider attending our inaugural Mobile Commerce Forum in October. There will be speakers galore with plenty of wisdom to share, and m-commerce technology providers for you to examine. It’s perfect timing as m-commerce continues its rapid growth and evolution.

I’ve got two words for you: It’s time.

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