Online sales grew by more than 30% in the fourth quarter, but store sales slid by 6.1% year over year.
At the Mobile Commerce Forum, a Forrester Research expert offers advice for mobile retailers.
Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. are selling billions through their m-commerce sites and apps. Hundreds of retailers have launched m-commerce sites this year alone. M-commerce is here and happening. But one expert cautions retailers, travel companies and ticket sellers to beware: It’s still early.
“The writing may be on the wall, but the end state is still far away,” said Forrester Research Inc. vice president and principal analyst Sucharita Mulpuru today at the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce 2010 Forum. “It’s no great surprise what the future holds. It will be a world where geolocation and QR codes and swiping your credit card with your mobile device will be commonplace. Especially given that these solutions are very efficient, there’s not any reason not to implement them. Ultimately consumers will buy a variety of products through their mobile devices; people already are. The caveat is we are still relatively early in the cycle.” (QR—quick response—codes are high-tech bar codes that provide consumers with information, such as a link to a web site to see reviews or to access coupons.)
Mulpuru, speaking in a session titled “The Mobile Landscape: Up Close—and on the Horizon,” said Forrester has three recommendations for organizations entering mobile commerce today.
“The first is to make sure your site or app is as simple as possible,” she said. “Decide what are the three or four features you absolutely need for that mobile device, and make sure content isn’t too heavy and has been modified for the channel. And make sure you are testing for the legibility of that content.”
Mulpuru cites fashion retailer Steve Madden as an example of simple and prioritized m-commerce. She says while the store locator is not in any way highlighted on Madden’s e-commerce site, it is very prominent on the m-commerce site because mobile consumers often are searching for a store.
Forrester asked a variety of retailers what they believe to be the top priorities for an m-commerce site or app, and they said product information and prices, alerts for online sales, customer ratings and reviews, and coupons.
The second Forrester recommendation is one that mirrors a key lesson from the early days of e-commerce: emphasize as much as possible the security of mobile commerce.
“Because the channel is so nascent, you have to do whatever you can to build trust among consumers,” Mulpuru said. “Implementing alternative payments is one method. And doing so provides the opportunity to reduce the number of transaction steps, and simplicity is important in mobile commerce.” She pointed to mobile sites that offer PayPal and Amazon’s payment system, which enable consumers to pay with online methods they’ve already registered for, and which have earned their trust.
The third Forrester recommendation is one many retailers in m-commerce today already are taking to heart: Think multichannel. She cited price comparison tools consumers already use in stores, where they check the price tag on a product in a store with that of the same product on a competitor’s m-commerce site.
“Even if you are a pure-play retailer you are receiving people who are accessing your mobile site in other places, and mobile price comparison can be very helpful in driving consumers back to your business,” Mulpuru said. “This is particularly important because of the level of mobile-influenced transactions. That figure is significantly higher than what we project for the level of transactions completed on mobile devices themselves.”