September 1, 2010, 12:00 AM

Where mobile meets commerce

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"The swipe and pinch touchscreen technology, for example. If we have 500 products in gold jewelry, we design the app so that the customer can just keep swiping down the screen to see them all, as opposed to having to go from page to page," she says.

At the same time, mobile technology is changing rapidly. One example is the introduction of HTML5, an upgrade of the web standard HyperText Markup Language used to program web sites. HTML5 enables mobile sites to more easily integrate with smartphone features, such as GPS for locating mobile consumers. That means the mobile site can recognize where a consumer is and present relevant offers, just as apps do today.

"The advantages of having an app from an m-commerce perspective are becoming less every day as browsers become more capable of using smartphone tools," says Pinnell of Sabre Holdings.

Changing Internet retailing

Just as smartphones and new technology like HTML5 advance m-commerce, m-commerce is changing the face of e-retailing. ABI Research predicts mobile will grow to 8% of total e-commerce sales by 2015.

"This is really an investment in the future," says Beccue of ABI Research. "People already have begun to associate eBay and Amazon with extreme accessibility and the ability to shop anytime and anywhere. That is a message that will continue to resonate in the minds of consumers. Mobile commerce is just going to get bigger and bigger and it will become more difficult to crack into mindshare if you're late to the game."

Pinnell of Travelocity agrees, and says the company is looking at mobile in a whole new light.

"We are beginning to think about how someone would interact with the mobile device as the primary way in which they receive information from us, as opposed to a secondary means," he explains. "People are getting content on their mobile devices and either responding to that content from the devices or if they feel it necessary going back to a PC later where they can provide more thought and perhaps a more lengthy response to what they read. When we look at the future, we're building products and services for mobile devices that we believe will continue to be an important part of how our brand plays with what the customers are doing."

For other e-commerce executives who believe as Pinnell does, the Mobile Commerce Forum will be the place to discover how to act on that vision.

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