New M-Commerce Guide Suggests Strategies To Leverage Smartphones For Conversion

As the growth of smartphone adoption continues to impact the way consumers find and buy products, a new guide from the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) was released yesterday to offer strategies to help retailers assimilate to the new mobile commerce landscape.

The M-Commerce Guide is the first output of MEF’s M-Commerce initiative led by an expert committee of members and written through consultation with leading industry players to engage, educate and evolve the potential of mobile. The guide was designed to help retailers better understand how to leverage the mobile device to drive customer acquisition, retention and most importantly, conversion.

As the mobile device increasingly becomes a tool to facilitate m-commerce, the ways to engage consumers with discovery tools also increases, the report said. But it requires more than just translating existing channels of communication, such as trying to replicate the Internet storefront on the mobile deice — it requires a dedicated and well thought out strategy to maximize the potential of m-commerce.


Mobile Madness by the Numbers
There is strong evidence that consumers are becoming increasingly used to the idea of making purchases via their mobile devices, according to the report. In 2009, KPMG’s annual Consumers and Convergence Survey found that more than half (53%) of its respondents are comfortable using their mobile handset for financial transactions.

ABI Research forecasted 2010 North American sales of physical goods purchased via mobile device at over $1 billion, a 33% increase over their 2009 forecast. On a worldwide basis, Fierce Wireless forecasts the 2015 market for mobile purchases goods and services will reach $199 billion, equating 8% of all e-Commerce transactions.

IL_ad_sterling-webABI Research also estimates that at the end of 2009, roughly 50% of establish North American retailers had mobile storefronts, compared with an estimated less than 20% at the end of 2008, offering clear indications of the growth that is to come.

Gary Schwartz, President of Impact Mobile and Vice Chairman of MEF, cautions retailers to think outside the mobile screen, as an enhanced mobile strategy goes beyond bringing a standard e-commerce site to the mobile device.

“Mobile is not about shrinking your digital footprint to look good on a small screen,” Schwartz said. “Mobile commerce is about rethinking the relationship with the shopper. Two clicks is one click too many. The mobile shopper lives in an impulse world. You need to make you value prop clear and timely.”

What’s Next for Text?
The report said that, due to the mass adoption of texting as a means of communication, it’s now the most prevalent form of mobile data. SMS offers a two-way medium that enables “push” and “pull” elements to enhance the customer interaction.

“The phone is a text device,” Schwartz said. “If a retailer wants reach and frequency they need to leverage this permission based two-way channel. Importantly, an SMS comes with a phone number, therefore allows retailers to communicate back to the on-the-run shopper. Apps and mWEB without a SMS channel will languish.”

QR Codes in the Queue
Quick Response (QR) codes have been a buzz in the retail industry for some time now, and the guide indicates that the concept is poised for growth. While QR codes are widely used in Japan, the potential for U.S. markets to leverage the technology is endless.

“Code scanning is becoming a reality but for different reasons then you see similar behavior in Tokyo,” Schwartz said. “[For the concept to come to life in the U.S.,] the key will be the ability to scan existing barcodes for in store information. Until GS1 establishes 2D standards, newer phones will allow for auto focus and scanning existing codes.”

Leveraging Loyalty
The report emphasizes the potential to utilize the mobile phone to drive customer loyalty, as it’s no longer a choice for retailers, but “the only way of building sustainable competitive advantage.” The report points to several benefits of a mobile loyalty strategy, including “points for purchases,” “miss you emails,” and special discounts on future purchases. Schwartz points to Coca-Cola’s recent mobile campaign as an ideal example of how brands can harvest the mobile phone’s ingenuity and channel it into a loyalty program.

“AIRBONUS is an affinity service that allows the shopper to text a unique PIN under the bottle cap and get $0.75 off their wireless bill,” Schwartz said. “Services like this are changing retail is simple but effective ways.”

The extensive report offers an in-depth introduction to mobile commerce, including key takeaways on how to launch a mobile storefront and application store, the potential for mobile transactions and how to leverage loyalty via mobile. To download a copy of the report, click here.

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