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Has M-Commerce Finally Arrived? Consumers, Technology and What the Digital Wallet Means for You


During #FutureM week, Karyn Martin (@karynmartin) and I attended a session on the future of mobile commerce as part of the week-long conference here in Boston. The panel featured representatives from major players in the mobile landscape, such as John Caron (@jcaron2) of  Modiv Media, David Chang, (@changds) of WHERE, Ron Elwell (@ronelwell) of Shopximity, and Chris Mahl (@chrismahlny) from SCVNGR and Level Up. Needless to say, we were excited to see what their predictions were for this new frontier.

The major theme that started to surface was the tremendous amount of opportunity that retailers have with mobile commerce. They are able to gain insights about their customers’ behaviors, build loyalty and ultimately strengthen the depth of relationships with consumers. However – we are still years away from major adoption and have merely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile commerce.

We’re slowly getting there, though.  John Caron gave the examples that 22 percent of purchases from major internet retailer Rue La La are mobile and that high frequency retailers who have adopted mobile have seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in sales. Japan has had mobile payments for five years. However, retailers are still attempting to figure out what will help the technology cross the threshold into major adoption. Consumers don’t want something that will replace credit cards – those are easy enough to use. So what will mobile commerce offer us that credit cards won’t?

The key is the following concept: mobile commerce isn’t here to totally replace existing brick and mortar shopping experiences, but to enhance them. Adding targeted advertisements and personalized experiences to shoppers is how mobile commerce be able to burst onto the retail scene.

The panel also discussed the three stages of mobile technology:

  • Cute: A mobile app that is easy and fun to use but doesn’t add any value to the retailer. An example of this would be a Foursquare check-in. Cute – but does it translate to more check outs? Not yet.
  • Cool: A mobile app such as QR codes or Square; something that replaces using a credit card but doesn’t have any game changing potential yet.
  • Critical:  A game changer. Examples of this would be what companies like Apple and Lowes are doing – creating technology and habits that will change how consumers behave.

Most of mobile technology lives in the “cool” category for now. However, that’s not to say that some brands aren’t crossing over to “critical.” I wanted to share the following video that was shown during the presentation to give some insight into crossing into that elusive “critical” stage and what’s possible with mobile commerce. This particular video shows how an innovative supermarket in Korea has used mobile commerce to enhance and simplify shoppers’ experiences.

What do you think? How long do you think it will take mobile commerce to cross the threshold and change consumer behavior? How could it improve how you shop? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Laura Lynn

Laura Lynn is a Public Relations Assistant Account Director at 451 Marketing.

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