December 22, 2006, 12:00 AM

Amazon, e-Bay offer examples for effective m-commerce, consultant says

Amazon and eBay have simplified web site interfaces for shoppers on mobile devices, supporting the growth of m-commerce, according to consultants Molecular Inc.

Few web sites in the U.S. have been effectively adapted as yet for m-commerce. But retailers considering the idea and searching for examples might take a look at the mobile interfaces of Amazon and eBay, two web sites that have provided simplified, dedicated interfaces for shoppers on mobile devices, according to technology consultants Molecular Inc.

The Amazon and eBay sites` interfaces for mobile device users are “mobilized” rather than simply miniaturized, a key difference, and one that few marketers fully understand, according to Molecular’s IPG Retail Group. The goal in adapting a web site for access by mobile device users is to present them with a subset the web site’s functionality, not to mirror the functionality of the full web sites.

While the web’s ability to drive sales in other channels by serving as a research source is increasingly recognized, in-depth product research would be difficult to conduct using the small screen of a mobile device. “The mobile web is far better suited to enable a transaction any time, anywhere,” Molecular reports. “Users of eBay away from their computers, for example, can keep their bid alive during the closing minutes of an auction or check the status of watched items through eBay`s mobile-user interface.”

Amazon’s mobile site allows mobile users to search for products and add them to a shopping cart, which can them be pulled up via the regular Amazon site. Purchases can also be made on Amazon’s site via one-click. “The critical usability point is that Amazon does not ask customers to enter a lot of information on the mobile site,” Molecular says. “So this saves user aggravation while still allowing them to complete a purchase, at best, or load their shopping cart with products for future purchase at worst."

From a strategic standpoint, both Amazon and eBay are positioned because of their robust m-commerce sites to be linked to other mobile sites, allowing them to capture sales of items referenced in other sites, such as reviews and news articles, Molecular notes.



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