Mobile Commerce Still Lagging: What You Can Do

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A new report by eMarketer suggests that mobile commerce has yet to catch on with consumers. This is due both to retailers' lack of resources to develop viable mobile commerce solutions and to fears about security and privacy among consumers. However, consumers are making some purchases through mobile devices, such as digital content for mobile phones (ringtones, applications, music and video clips), consumer electronics, and computers, laptops or related equipment. This suggests that in some instances, mobile commerce is working, and those using their mobile phones to buy are early adopters and the more tech-savvy consumers.

None of this should surprise anyone. But just because consumers aren't ready to purchase your items or services through a mobile device en masse doesn't mean the channel should go unused. Here are a few ways mobile can facilitate commerce - both online and offline.

  • Coupons and coupon codes. Consider using SMS to send coupons redeemable in-store for future purchases. It's a way to drive consumers to your location and create an incentive for purchase. For online retailers, a coupon code in a text message along with your website's URL can facilitate a purchase on-site where the consumer feels secure. Either way, the message remains in the user's message list. Users can later access and use the coupon without the need to make the purchase through the mobile device.
  • Include phone numbers and addresses in messages and ads. Whether you're using SMS to reach out to consumers or using mobile advertising, always include a clickable phone number and an address. They might not be purchasing through the phone, but interacting with your business through a physical visit or a phone call is a mobile commerce win. Their "buying interest" originated via mobile.
  • Reservations or waiting lists. For service-oriented business, consider giving customers the ability to reserve an appointment via SMS. For those offering products, give the option for a consumer to "get in line" for a new product or to receive a notification when a new product is available. Both instances take advantage of human impulse and give a direct link to action.
  • Have a mobile-ready landing page. If you are going to use the mobile channel at all, have a way to direct users to a mobile-specific page. Even if they have no intention of purchasing through the mobile device, a poorly rendered page on the small screen makes consumers second-guess the website altogether.

Consumers might not be ready to buy over the mobile Web, but eventually, they will. Just as fears over buying through the desktop eventually faded, so will fears over the mobile channel. Already, consumers are getting used to the idea of mobile banking. For retailers, the job is to engage consumers, making the case that you are available to conduct business over the mobile channel so that when they are ready, they will remember you.

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