m-Commerce – Bridging the gap b/w technology & user adoption

Shopping on mobile or m-commerce is projected to reach $9 B by 2011. Even more users now prefer to shop online using their mobile device like cell phones, PDAs etc. as compared to personal computers or laptops. Due to the convergence of technologies like RFID, NFC (Near Field Communication), location-based services with solutions such as mobile wallets, mobile vouchering, the ambit of mobile commerce is further expanding & about to go mainstream. This however does not imply that the adoption of mobile commerce solutions is uniform across the globe at the moment. There are valid concerns but hopefully there will be significant improvements in 2011 that will take us much closer to a broader mainstream adoption by users and retailers.

A survey reveals that half of retailers think that m-commerce is important in achieving strategic business goals. Last year about the same time our mobile app development team participated in another survey that included mobile development agencies from various parts of the world.  The survey captured the understanding of service providers about the (mobile) platforms’ business potential, criteria for selecting a platform with their benefits and limitations.

Clearly, from developers’ POV the emphasis was the most on app stores and the iOS4 where most were talking in terms of apps only with limited sight on a solutions’ based approach for mobile markets. The mobile landscape has changed quite a bit since then – Android tripped iOS4 for the top spot, a host of acquisitions in the mobile space, new OS version releases on different platforms for advanced mobile technology support and more. And with respect to mobile commerce now we are talking more in terms of mobile wallets and mobile vouchering or platforms like MobiCart that help you build and manage your m-commerce store as a native or web app.

Briefly put, mobile technologies and service providers have been quick enough to match up with these trends however; a good mobile user experience is still a huge challenge where only a few have succeeded – eBay and Amazon. In terms of user adoption, there hasn’t been much to talk about. As NFC-enabled mobile devices are rolled out this year including iPhone5 the mobile commerce landscape is all set to brighten up.

Bridging the gap:

  • Improved user experience Mobile apps/websites have always been limited in terms of functionality made available to the end-user; done of course to preserve the user experience on small screen devices. This however is slowly changing like with retina display support in iPhone4 which makes the presentation of products attractive, a huge improvement in mobile UX.
  • Better inventory support For m-commerce solutions, the back-end inventory support has been quite limited when compared with e-commerce (on Web). Amazon and eBay have set the standards on this one. We too have developed mobile solutions to manage inventories for m-commerce applications by providing a CMS allowing the stores to sell thousands of products. It doesn’t end there; the solutions also address order intake and order management functions too.
  • Multiple payment gateways for mobile The credit card companies are not far behind. They are working with the development teams to launch API’s for mobile commerce and also by funding the start-ups to promote multiple payment gateways. Not only does this helps in easing the app integration process for the developers but also makes it easier for the end-users to do their transactions.
  • Mobile technology adoption Also, it remains to be seen how mobile technologies are adopted not just by the end clients but also by businesses around the world. At the moment, US leads the mobile shopping pack with UK and rest of EU closely following. India & China house the largest pool of mobile subscribers in the world and with vast improvements in the mobile technology and the app market we might see a metamorphosis of this nascent market into driving force in m-commerce initiatives.

Next month, Net Solutions are exhibiting at Internet World in London from May 10-12. Among other topics, the event also focuses on e-commerce and m-commerce with an elaborate schedule that includes – mobile zone, mini-series and plenary sessions – by industry leaders is an indication that mobile commerce is increasingly forming an integral part of digital/mobile strategies by large and small businesses. Net Solutions’ executive team will be there too at stand E6072 sharing insights about the mobile apps landscape and how we can complement your business goals & bring you closer to your target audience with our expertise in mobile solutions development.

Surely, there is more required to bridge this gap and would like to understand from you how mobile app service providers or mobile network operators and the end-consumer can help in involvement of m-commerce further. What’s your take?

About Net Solutions We are an award-winning mobile application development company based in India. We’ve been there since the start of mobile apps evolution and have featured on Wall Street Journal in the past for the same. Having worked on a mix of mobile apps – easy to outright complex, our portfolio includes some impressive names from around the world. Send us a note if you have an enquiry or join us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Maninder Bains

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