The M-Commerce Train

The M-Commerce Train


It’s the latest buzz word in retailing yet most retailers that also have an online presence haven’t jumped on board the m-commerce train. We’re talking about a mobile web presence and despite the fact the trend is in its early stages we are told it is catching on.

First off, you may be asking, what exactly is m-commerce? Well, it is actually the term used for Mobile commerce or to be more exact, transactions on mobile phones and PDAs of retail business through pared-down versions of e-commerce sites via wireless Internet access or on shopping portals (also known as decks) on proprietary wireless telecommunications networks. Internet-based mobile sites can be freestanding destinations using one of nine common mobile domain formats—including URLs that incorporate “m” or “wap” or “mobi”—or sites with the same URL as their e-commerce counterparts that manifest as a mobile version via technology that automatically detects if a shopper is coming to the site via mobile device.

The reasons this form of retailing is making headlines now is simple – a recent study done by Forrester Research Inc., claims more than three-quarters of the 105 million U.S. households now own at least one mobile phone, and, on average, two; household penetration will exceed 85% by 2009, according to the Forrester study. Consumers, particularly the younger demographic, are relying more and more on their mobile phones for voice and text communication, making, as the study points out, the time right for e-retailers to begin experimenting with m-commerce.

Retail analyst Martha Refik feels m-commerce will only grow as mobile devices become even more firmly entrenched among U.S. consumers. “They (U.S. consumers) are only growing more comfortable with their mobile devices and the trend is seeing people using them for more and more activities beyond voice. It only stands to reason that the mobile channel will begin to make a greater impact on shopping habits,” she told us. Forrester Research, while making the claim the m-commerce wave is coming, does report that currently only 12% of U.S. households with mobile phones use their carriers’ data services, which enable most m-commerce activities.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this market as it continues to emerge for U.S. retailers.