June 21, 2010, 2:50 PM

It’s no longer time to sit on the sidelines

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

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.

Comments | 3 Responses

  • A lot of retailers have a healthy skepticism about whether their buyers will be purchasing on mobile phones anytime soon. Indeed, you cannot count on mobile checkout as a new revenue channel in 2010, unless you are serving a youth market. But viewing mobile as new channel misses the real value of mobile to your business. Mobile is most beneficial to retailers' businesses from one or more of the following: - Use "click-to-call" to drive interested buyers to your call center. If your catalog is always with them, will you get more calls? - Use store location / directions as a way to get customers in cars into your store. Are you more likely to hook customers who are on the road, or those who are sitting behind their PC? - Use your site existing content, such as customer reviews, to increase in-store conversions. Would customers be more confident purchasing a premium product if they saw that previous purchasers were delighted with it? If it works online, might it not help in-store? Unbound Commerce customers are getting high ROI today. www.UnboundCommerce.com.

  • Hi Bill – you’re absolutely right that it is more important than ever for companies to build a mobile strategy and integrate mobile commerce capabilities. Kony Solutions - the company I work for - recently did a survey of Fortune 500 companies and 61% of them indicated that they intend to introduce mobile commerce capabilities as part of their overall mobile strategy. When we looked at the results across vertical markets, retail companies were the top respondents to indicate plans for mobile commerce offerings (at 82%) and travel/hospitality businesses came in second with 58%. If one thing was clear, it’s that mobile commerce is gaining in perceived importance among large corporations and we can expect to see more companies releasing these kinds of applications. The next step will be for companies to make sure they give customers the option for m-commerce across all kinds of devices, with all kinds of capabilities (SMS, mobile web, on-device app) rather than just the top few. (If you’re interested in learning more, you can find the full results report here: http://www.konysolutions.com/marketing/mobile_report.php.) -S p

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