Although mobile commerce is expected to reach some $31 billion by 2016, at a compounded annual growth rate of 39%1, the channel remains a huge missed opportunity for most brands. Even traditionally marketing-savvy brands are struggling to leverage the space-partially because the slow internal procedures of the biggest corporations can hardly keep up with the pace at which mobile capabilities are evolving. The core issue however, is that most companies simply don’t know how to enter or lead the new mobile-commerce space: the channel is unproven, customer data is sparse, and ROI is difficult to prove. But with Google reporting that 79% of consumers now say they use a smartphone to help with shopping2, the mobile space has become a tremendous customer influencer that can no longer be ignored.
As brands prepare to enter or re-charge their mobile commerce platforms, 3 basic steps will make a colossal difference in generating success. Incorporate these, and you’ll already be ahead of the majority of the competition:
1. Optimize for various mobile browsers. While this may seem like a no-brainer, the reality of testing and optimizing for the multitude of browsers out there prevents most brands from following through on this more often than not. With limited time and resources, many have instead opted to select the most popular smartphones-the iPhone and the Blackberry, and ignored the rest. However, this not only ignores a huge chunk of mobile users that, for various reasons, may even convert better than the more popular smartphone segments, but also sets the brand up for failure in the event of a sudden change. And of course in the digital space, rapid change is the only constant. For example, based on a survey from July-September of 2010, Neilsen reported that the iPhone and Blackberry were top preferences for mobile users, at 33% and 26%3, respectively. But by April of 2011, the same survey indicated that the Android is now the preferred OS, with 31% of consumers planning to buy a smartphone indicating an interest in the device4. Lesson learned: optimize for all browsers from the get-go. Then you’ll be prepared no matter how fickle the mobile market turns out to be.
2. Assure mobile users of their security. Brands severely underestimate the concern users have about mobile security. Forrester reports that 45% of mobile users would use their smartphone to purchase products if they knew their number would be kept private, and 44% claimed they would if mobile payment services were more secure. Despite this looming fear, basic security measures have a strong impact on customer assurance. In addition to clear privacy policies and visible security statements, the use of security logos and certificates, such as Verisign and TRUSTe, are proven to make a significant difference in m-commerce conversion. What’s more is that consumers are fairly impartial to the brand or type of security certificate actually used, even if it’s just an internally created one, and this has been backed by both studies and my personal experience as a digital consultant.
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3. Create a mobile version of the e-commerce site. Optimizing for various browsers is a great start, but to really lead the m-commerce space, brands need to have a distinct mobile site. You may have noticed some websites that now feature a link to a mobile version of their site. With users reporting they would buy products via mobile sites if they had more functionality, loaded faster, looked more like they did on their desktops, or if their screens were larger, the mobile shopping user experience is still a huge mitigation for many consumers1. But carefully constructed mobile sites can help combat all of these consumer concerns, streamlining the user experience, optimally displaying products on mobile devices, and executing faster. Even the larger screen issue can be addressed by adjusting the layout and image sizes.
Once these basics are mastered, there are many more advanced capabilities in the m-commerce world, from engaging custom apps, to customer ratings and reviews. But starting with a solid foundation is the most critical part of every m-commerce platform.
1 “Forrester Research Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (US)” June 16, 2011
2 Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT, “The Mobile Movement Study,” April 2011, N=5,000
3 “Nielsen: Consumer Desire For Android Grows, Unlike iOS And Blackberry,” Robin Wauters, Tech Crunch,
4 Neilsenwire:” U.S. Smartphone Market: Who’s the Most Wanted?” April 26, 2011. (http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/u-s-smartphone-market-whos-the-most-wanted/)