Awhile back I asked what a mobile wallet was. Today my challenge is even bigger: What is mobile commerce?

woman uses mobile technology while shoppingI’ve been working around mobile commerce solutions for the last six years, or perhaps even longer, as we had USSD services running at a Bank in Hong Kong in the late 90s. (More on USSD in a future post.)

I know what’s happening, and what’s possible. My problem is that I think ‘commerce’ is too small an idea. What people are doing is so much bigger.

Right now, if you say “mobile commerce,” people think of banking or payments. Maybe coupons.

But the payment or transaction is just one of the steps on the process. It isn’t even the last step, as customer support comes after, and can be so much more important.

For example, 14 months after purchasing my Nike+ FuelBand, I had a problem with the device. Nike’s online support was quick and helpful, and fully resolved my problems in less than two weeks. Amazing. This experience, more than a year after I bought the thing, now overshadows my experience in the store. And, in a hugely positive way. I was a fan of the technology before, but now I’m a vocal supporter of the company.

Support was also in a different channel than my purchase, which highlights the need for an omnichannel approach.

In fact, if you look at the complete view of my transaction, I’ve worked through a number of channels. Initially, I researched the product online. I made my purchase in store. I raised a support request through the web, and then engaged with Barry from Nike Support via email. The only channel missing was mobile – although, as I use the Nike FuelBand App on my phone, I suppose I’ve got that covered too.

I can even go one further. Being an early adopter, I bought my FuelBand in the USA, at the Nike Town in New York, and got a replacement here in London. So this transaction not only spanned channels, but also the Atlantic.

The final part of the transaction? Well I think it’s clear that there isn’t an end. Here I am using social media to share my experience of a purchase made in back in May 2012.

If you can grasp this bigger approach to commerce, you can really differentiate your products or services. And those that don’t…well the power of social media means your potential future customers will all be too aware of your failings. As British Airways discovered when an unhappy customer was driven to purchase a sponsored tweet to highlight the issues with poor customer service.

This concept of the bigger, better way that consumers use mobile to engage with enterprises is something we explore in an upcoming report. Really, the sea change that mobility is bringing about has so much to do with empowering consumers, and shifting the focus of commerce to them.