Retailers explore 'm-commerce' potential

Better mobile interfaces and the rise of high-speed data are leading retailers to consider how mobiles can be used for shopping

Better mobile interfaces and the rise of high-speed data networks are switching retailers on to the potential of "m-commerce".

With many retailers considering adding a mobile channel in the next one to two years, analyst Gartner said they need to understand how consumers want to use mobiles for shopping, with activities such as locating stores and price comparison likely to be more popular than making purchases on phones.

In a survey of more than 2,000 UK and US consumers, Gartner found shoppers are around twice as likely to pricecheck via a phone than make a purchase. Services offered by portals, price-comparison engines and mobile map providers should therefore be utilised by retailers to establish a workable m-commerce strategy, according to the analyst.

Gartner added that m-commerce vendors must offer "multichannel capabilities" to fit in with how the consumer wants to shop; by enabling mobile-phone-generated orders to be collected at a store, for instance, or letting consumers save a mobile-shopping session and continue it later elsewhere online.

The survey also found younger consumers are more likely to want to conduct retail activity on mobiles than older consumers, while less than a fifth of UK survey respondents said they would want to receive promotions on their mobiles.

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