Mobile commerce has become big business today. Growing from virtually nothing, it’s now a massive global industry, and more and more companies are realising just how essential it is that they have a solution in place for this. Mobile commerce is essentially the next step in the evolution of ecommerce – taking the purchasing process away from the PC and laptop and putting it in a smartphone or tablet computer. It’s buying on the go, and for consumers, it represents massive freedom and convenience. For companies, it presents some serious challenges as well as great opportunities.
The first challenge that companies will need to overcome is one of technology. In order to enter the world of mobile commerce, companies will need to provide their customers with a satisfying experience and a means to make purchases from their smartphones. This requires having an app developed or investing in a mobile website. Apps are the preferred option (most consumers prefer buying through an app to using a mobile site), but both can be viable solutions (particularly when used in conjunction).
Challenge: Marketing Issues
Mobile commerce presents some very real challenges in the world of marketing and making consumers aware of products and/or services. For instance, unlike traditional marketing (direct mail, telemarketing, TV commercials, etc.), mobile commerce relies on customers giving permission (however tacitly) to the company doing the marketing. This might be by agreeing to the terms of service within an app, or perhaps by ticking a check box that they agree to receive periodic correspondence. Marketing must also be increasingly personalised for today’s consumers in order for it to be effective. Both app marketing and text message marketing can be effective if used correctly.
One last challenge that companies face today is accessibility. Consumers must be able to access the company’s products/services as easily as possible. The more hoops that must be jumped through to get what they want, the greater the likelihood the consumer will abandon the purchase completely and go elsewhere to fulfil their needs. A minimum number of clicks should be required for the consumer to go from 0 to “purchased”.
Opportunity: Become both Service and Product Provider
One of the greatest opportunities presented by mobile commerce is the ability for companies to straddle the line and become both service and product providers. Smartphone and tablet apps can be excellent ways to provide immense additional value to consumers, whether as a complimentary service or for a premium. In both situations, services can be tied in with products to create the best possible profit potential for the company and satisfaction on the part of the customer.
Mobile commerce continues to evolve, and new challenges and opportunities will rise up. Regardless, it’s essential for businesses to get in now.