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Top mcommerce trends for 2010 – what’s hot and what’s not

August 3, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Mobile coupons, social media, customer service, location and iAd are the top mobile commerce trends that retailers are focusing on in 2010 and will likely be part of the holiday mix.

Retailers are also quite infatuated with HTML5, which is going to shape the mobile commerce experience and expectations of consumers. According to FitForCommerce, retailers are expected to invest an average of $170,000 on their mobile sites this year.

“For those starting down the mobile path, the most important thing is to stay focused, and enter the channel based on metrics and data,” said Jill Dvorak, senior consultant on mobile commerce at FitForCommerce, Washington. “Just because this is a newer industry, do not fall into the trap that doing something is better than doing nothing. 

“Know what you want to achieve, and then plan and execute, as you would any other marketing program,” she said “For retailers currently trying to grow their mobile channel, they should focus on a few things.”

First, retailers need to integrate mobile as a new channel within the organization.

Next, retailers should be sure to keep abreast of new device technologies and incompatibilities.

Lastly, they need to ensure their analytics are measuring cross-channel activity to point them in the right directions for future wins. 

“Retailers now have the unique opportunity to define the interactions with the mobile consumer, it is up to you to make it count,” Ms. Dvorak said.

Mobile commerce trend No. 1 – Investment
Investments are changing drastically this year. As mentioned before, retailers are expected to invest an average of $170,000 on their mobile sites this year. 

As with other technology investments, large multichannel retailers are spending several times this amount, while smaller online-only retailers will spend far less, Ms. Dvorak said.

FitForCommerce is seeing clients invest heavily in mobile for holiday 2010.

The econsultancy is also receiving many inquiries about what the correct spend should be. Some clients are using their current ecommerce platforms’ mobile capabilities, while others are building new stand-alone sites.

According to Jason Taylor, vice president of mobile products at Usablenet, New York, the mobile channel is currently representing around 3-5 percent of total Web-related revenue, and growing.

As this number grows, so will investments in the space.

“In 2010, we’ll see more retailers integrate new mobile payments such as mobile PayPal and others,” Mr. Taylor said.

According to data from mobile commerce software platform Digby, Austin, TX, many retailers are seeing significantly higher purchase rates when they promote offers that are unique to their mobile Web site. Last year, most retailers wanted to start with mobile Web.

Now, more than 50 percent of retailers are enabling mobile Web and at least one rich application in their initial launch plans and expect to add more over time.

Customers who download a retailer’s application buy more often and at a higher average purchase price than the mobile Web, Digby finds.

In the second quarter of 2010, mobile Web visits were made up of 37 percent iPhone, 29 percent iPod touch, 13 percent BlackBerry and 12 percent Android, per Digby.

All of the mentioned device type visits are growing while other devices are falling off.

Digby finds that more retailers are looking at mobile as a strategic fourth channel that can help them bring more value to there desktop Web site, in-store and catalog channels.

Mobile commerce trend No. 2 – Mobile couponing
Engagement rates have been slipping. It is a challenge all retailers face.

One way retailers can combat this negative trend is with mobile coupons.

A recent Exposure2 report found that mobile coupon redemption rates can often exceed 50 percent, while paper coupons typically have a redemption rate of only 0.2 percent to 2 percent.

“The high redemption rate is due to a very engaged consumer, potential geolocated relevant messages and a high brand affinity or motivation to buy,” Ms. Dvorak said. “Also, mobile coupons help protect retailers, since security is easier to manage as they are harder to share between users.”

Mobile coupon pushes within advertising campaigns are going to be big as well.

Apple will definitely play a role in that. Mobile advertising that promotes a discount or deal is known to perform better than just plain vanilla branding initiatives.

“I think a big trend that will continue to catch on is mobile coupons,” said Kate Coultas, PR brand manager at JCPenney, Dallas, TX. “Also, I imagine more companies will partner with Apple for their iAd concept.”

Mobile commerce trend No. 3 – Location
Location-based marketing is going to be really big during the holiday season and is already playing a big role in the mobile commerce-related marketing tactics of leading retailers, according to Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

The biggest trend for now is Foursquare, which allows people to “check-in” through their phones and reveal geographic locations they go to.

Both large retailers and brick and mortar stores are taking advantage of this by providing coupons and freebies to those who check-in often or first. 

Mobile commerce trend No. 4 – Social
Using mobile for sharing is a huge component of mobile commerce initiatives in 2010 and the same will hold true for the holiday season.

Mobile social network-based loyalty programs are going to be huge.

For example, retailer Barnes & Noble has taken sharing to a new level.

Barnes & Noble developed its LendMe technology to let customers share their eligible ebooks with friends for up to 14 days, right from the Android application. 

Mobile commerce trend No. 5 – Analytics
2010 marks the first time that retailers truly place emphasis on investing time and money in analytics.

In mobile, analytics play an important role when trying to figure out what works and what does not, especially in a platform-specific setting.

Usablenet’s Mr. Taylor said that an important trend he is seeing is making sure mobile commerce can be tracked with the same detail as ecommerce, with integration with Omniture, Coremetrics, Webtrends and Google Analytics.

“One of our clients was surprised to discover their traffic from BlackBerry devices was much higher than from iPhones,” FitForCommerce’s Ms. Dvorak said. “What we have seen are people assume they need to invest first in iPhone apps or Mac-enabled sites. 

“But perhaps the first step should be to examine the site’s traffic analytics,” she said. “Then, the next step is to ensure all operating systems can handle your site.”

For example, Adobe’s Flash technology does not work on Mac devices and many retailers have shopping sites where the widgets, gift finders, outfit builders are built in Flash. 

This is especially true during the holiday season, when retailers increasingly want to offer all major features of ecommerce, not just check out. These include add to wish list, related-item suggestions, gift registry and support for promotional and coupon codes.

So, these types of tools will not only fail to display, they will throw an error if built using Flash and served on an iPhone.  

In this instance, the importance of platform-specific mobile design cannot be overstated.

“There is a difference between a mobile-friendly site and a mobile-optimized site,” Ms. Dvorak said. “A best practice is start building your mobile site by optimizing the top 10 used features on your Web site. 

“For example, increase the size of the search field to take up a larger percent of the page than it does on a regular Web site, as search is such an important part of the mobile experience,” she said.

Final Take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor of Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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

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