There has been and will continue to be a massive increase in mobile commerce as consumers are becoming more accustomed to shopping online and mobile devices are proliferating and providing bigger screens and better interfaces. Personally I have been amazed at how easy it is to use a number of sites such as Amazon to purchase as I am walking while walking by doing a quick search and check-out without the need to enter in a great deal of data.
There are many hundreds of thousands of retailers globally or more who must grapple with developing online interfaces which allow customers to make rapid purchases regardless of device. ShopVisible LLC is one company devoted to helping retailers migrate seamlessly to the mobile web and I did get a chance to test one of the implementations they performed for a customer and thought the results were good in that they gave consumers a chance to find what they wanted in a non-cluttered manner. You can try for yourself as one of the company's clients is listed below.
To learn more, I interviewed Sean Cook, Chief Executive Officer (pictured) below:
1. What is the current state of the mobile commerce industry?
Many say that mobile commerce is still in its infancy but that is quickly changing. Last year, mobile commerce was an $18.3 billion business. ABI Research is projecting that number to grow into a $119 billion global industry by 2015. It's easy to see why as smartphone use has exploded over the past few years and consumers are now looking to use their mobile devices in the same way that they would use a personal computer.
This is the time when an online retailer should be thinking from a competitive standpoint. At this early stage of the game, the retailer with the advantage is the one that can provide an interactive and efficient shopping experience, whether the customer is on a PC or a mobile device.
2. What are some challenges mobile users face when trying to make a purchase with their smartphone?
Mobile Web browsers have come a long way but they still don't deliver the same experience as a home computer. Mobile sites need to be fast, easy to navigate and streamlined. Most online retailers have content rich Web pages that are difficult to view on a small screen. Factor in the slower speeds on mobile data networks and users will be waiting a long time just to load the page. If retailers don't offer a mobile shopping experience that is on par with the client site they risk losing existing customers to competitors that have already established a strong mobile presence. Happy mobile shoppers are the ones that can quickly find and purchase a product with the fewest possible taps of a finger.
3. With the vast amount of mobile devices available on the market, how can retailers provide a positive user experience across each mobile platform?
Retailers need to create a mobile Web environment that provides the user with a quick, easy and efficient purchasing experience. Many retailers believe the solution is just to build a mobile Web version of their current site. The problem is that the user experience will not be consistent due to the vast amount of devices running on different mobile operating systems and wireless networks. Retailers can create a positive user experience by offering easy browsing and searching and a fast payment process. In order to provide this experience, retailers should consider partnering with an ecommerce solutions provider that has expertise in building a mobile retail site. Here at ShopVisible we just announced our mobile ecommerce platform called ShopVisible Mobile. Because this is an extension of our ecommerce platform, we make it easy for retailers to extend their online business to the mobile environment by enabling them to manage their websites, online channels and mobile sites all from one platform. Consumers have the benefit of purchasing from a mobile site that has been optimized for their device.
4. Will retailers need to go beyond traditional mobile Web sites and develop custom applications for each platform like iPhone, Android, RIM, etc?
The best solution is to deploy a technology that supports all major devices and browsers. It is not enough for a retailer to replicate a smaller version of their website on a mobile device. Rather, your ecommerce platform should have the technology to know whether your customer is on a computer or a mobile device so that it can present the correct version of the website. For example, ShopVisible Mobile optimizes a retailer's site for all the major devices so you don't have to deploy multiple instances.
5. How important is mobile search when developing a cohesive mobile commerce strategy?
Your search strategy should be top of mind when developing a mobile commerce strategy. Imagine how much search drives commerce online, the same is true if not magnified on mobile devices. Consumers are not going to click around multiple links to find what they are looking for on a mobile phone. However, search strategy is often put on the backburner. Retailers need to make search, both mobile and regular Internet, a top priority because if consumers can't find you they can't buy from you. Many ecommerce systems aren't optimized for search and so there is a huge industry around search optimization as a result. The same will be the case for mobile search. Our goal at ShopVisible was to build an ecommerce platform that is optimized for mobile search right from the start so you don't end up playing catch-up.
6. Do retailers need a separate platform for a mobile presence or are there platforms that can manage all channels?
You can invest in individual platforms for each channel but as the number of platforms increase, so does the complication. ShopVisible Mobile is an example of a single ecommerce platform that allows retailers to manage their primary online and mobile websites in one environment.
7. Can you give an example where ShopVisible has helped a
retailer seamlessly transition their offerings to a mobile retail site?
We recently helped Foothealth.com establish its presence in the world of mobile commerce. Foothealth.com is an online retailer of foot care health products and orthotics and it wanted to be one step ahead of competitors by quickly entering the mobile market with a site that was fast and compatible with all mobile devices, including iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile devices. We helped build a site that met all of its goals (sample from iPhone pictured) while keeping in mind the specific requirements of the mobile environment. In the end, we provided Foothealth.com with a mobile commerce platform that enables 'lighter versions' of its client site that is optimized for the mobile browsing and shopping experience. Its mobile customers can now browse the retailer's products and make purchases efficiently using well-known services such as PayPal, Amazon or Google Checkout.