The world has gone mobile, so why is m-commerce lagging?

The mobile world descended on Barcelona this week where tens of thousands of delegates discussed how mobile is disrupting multiple industry sectors. However, there is still one glaring barrier to total world domination – the industry’s failiure to crack big ticket purchases on mobile.

Ronan Shields

For those interested specifically in mobile marketing and commerce, arguably one of the headline stories to emerge from the conference is news of the planet’s leading mobile carrier groups agreeing to form a ‘Weve-like’ joint venture to offer tier one brands mobile wallet and commerce services.

The appetite for which was evidenced by the earlier story of Coke unveiling plans to reach ‘every hand with a mobile phone’ which emerged from the, still ongoing, five day extravaganza.

However, away from the industry love-in that is Mobile World Congress, rumblings have been emerging in the e-retail sector pointing to challenges ahead as both of these industries prepare to collide (although some would argue they have already).

Today it emerged that early e-commerce pioneer Max Levchin has launched a mobile payments start-up called Affirm designed to minimise the consumer purchase experience on smartphones with a “two-tap” purchasing system.

Levchin’s latest venture has been spurred by the need to reduce the shopping cart abandonment among retailers’ mobile visitors, a growing problem for the sector as more and more of us browse on our smartphones in what was otherwise known as ‘dead time’, for instance waiting on a bus.

The opportunity to help spur an impulse purchase here is obvious but retailers are thus far failing to provide an adequate experience to aid this as made apparent by figures released this week by the e-retail trade body IMRG and Capgemini which revealed that 20 per cent of traffic to its members’ sites was via mobile in 2012.

Great news, unquestionably. In 2013 mobile definitely seems to be the darling of the digital industry but when you scratch past the headline headline statistics, it becomes apparent retailers are going to struggle to convert this traffic into actual revenue.

In the same release, Chris Webster, VP, consumer products and retail, Capgemini, says: “We have seen a clear division in the mobile channels, with shoppers four times more likely to purchase an item on a tablet device over a smartphone.

“The slowdown of sales made on a smartphone suggests there is an issue with the customer experience retailers are offering. If retailers are to reinvigorate the level of adoption, they must recognise the difference in the mobile channels and build specific customer experiences for the smartphone.”

From this we can see the potential for businesses like Affirm and Levchin, who helped build PayPal before its eventual sale to eBay, obviously has form for spotting gaps in the market, aka potential problems for big brands in the online era.

A more seamless experience must be on offer for mobile users if the pound signs are to follow the eyeballs, those of you thinking about this are one step ahead of the pack already.

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