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Mobile commerce still in its infancy: eMarketer

September 4, 2009

Jeff Grau of eMarketer

Jeff Grau of eMarketer

Mobile commerce still has a few years to go before consumer adoption gains strong momentum, according to research by eMarketer.

There are a couple of key growth engines such as the increasing number of  smartphone users and new mobile shopping application offered by retailers and third-party developers.

“One surprise is that upscale apparel brands like Ralph Lauren and Net-A-Porter have launched apps in the belief that some people are ready to buy $3,000 gowns and $1,000 pairs of shoes from their mobile phones,” said Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst at eMarketer, New York.

The report also found that more than 70 million U.S. mobile phone users will access the Internet from their device in 2009.

A number of recognized retail brands including 1-800-FLOWERS,Amazon, Ralph Lauren and Sears have launched mobile commerce programs so they can be where their customers go.

Nevertheless, mobile commerce is still in its infancy.

Web-enabled mobile phone users are much more likely to employ their devices to get weather forecasts, read news, find movie times and bank online than to buy products.

Consumers are willing to use their mobile phones to buy items such as pizza, movie tickets and travel reservations. And some have even used their devices to purchase consumer electronics, computers and apparel.

But mobile phone users say they would make more purchases if the process were not so cumbersome, products were easier to find and their devices supported secure credit card transactions.

A number of retailers and third-party developers have introduced mobile apps that give consumers powerful new shopping tools and added convenience.

But most retailers are either standing on the sidelines or in the midst of planning their mobile commerce strategy.

The main obstacles retailers cite for not moving more quickly are capital constraints, followed by consumer privacy issues and security concerns.

Retailers expect the primary benefits from mobile commerce will be improved customer loyalty and greater customer spending.

“One piece of advice is that retailers must take the time to understand how their customers like to shop and then design apps that are practical and that integrate with features on smartphones such as GPS navigation and address book,” Mr. Grau said.

“Also important, retailers need to consider the unique characteristics and constraints posed by the mobile phone,” he said. “Do not assume that an app can be designed in the same way as a Webpage.

“A Web designer does not think about the world from a touch screen perspective. Trim down the shopping experience, and make it easy to search and navigate.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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