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Want Mobile Revenue? Create an App.

Posted on 11.23.2009

Mobile commerce is one of those elusive goals. We've become numb to projections that the Mobile Web has finally arrived - mostly because we have yet to see evidence that mobile users are willing to complete transactions through their handheld devices. But some are doing quite well at earning revenue through the mobile channel.

Below is a chart from eMarketer, based on data from Billing Revolution, a mobile payment system. It shows the top purchases "...that US Consumers Are Willing to Make via Mobile Phone." (article continues below...)

mobile purchases

All of these categories are entertainment or food related. At first glance, it might seem that these purchases are simply convenient mobile purchases, or small-ticket items with little risk. But the first item, "Pizza" is not a typical on-the-go order, and "Hotel rooms" and "Tickets for travel" are hardly small-time purchases. So why are these categories mobile-friendly? One answer might be how these purchases are made - through apps.

Pizza Hut offers an app, and it's resulted in more than one million dollars in sales to date. And the app is only three months old. Movie tickets are available for purchase through Fandango's app, as well as others like Flixster. The Fandango app saw more than one million downloads in its first three months after launching. Hotels reservations are available through's app, as well as the Hotel Negotiator app from Hotel Negotiator soared to #3 for free travel apps after just one week. As far as coffee purchases, you might remember a little company called Starbucks recently released an app.

Of course, these are all very large brands with very high-level apps. But this correlation between potential purchases and apps is not to be overlooked. One of the biggest reasons might just be standardization. Instead of fumbling around a variety of websites and their individual challenges and payment systems, consumers might be more willing to purchase via mobile when it is convenient - on the iPhone, many apps share a certain navigation style. In addition, the inclusion of an "approved" app through Apple's App Store can offer a sense of security - something many brands might struggle to offer without Apple's "endorsement."

Even if your business doesn't have the resources to create an app to sell your products, consider a mobile-friendly approach. Making it easy and intuitive for consumers to purchase could make all the difference.

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