A ZDNet Multiplexer Blog What's this?

Mobile Commerce Isn’t Just About Payments

I’ve said that retail payments may be the next ‘killer app’ for mobile wallets. But really, mobile commerce offers so much more that that, for enterprises and consumers.

On the Web, we bank, shop, and even exchange funds for goods with people we’ve never met on auction sites. Things that would’ve seemed impossible 20 years ago have become part of our daily lives.

Mobile technology promises to change the way we operate even more. The technology and devices are more personal, more portable, and more powerful than the PCs that introduced us to the Web. The improvement 4G LTE networks bring to mobile Internet connectivity is similar to the improvement broadband offered over dialup. (Read more about LTE here .) Whilst people in developing countries haven’t had the access to computers, reliable electricity or broadband to use the Internet on a large scale, estimates say 75, 80, even up to 88 percent of the world’s population have mobile phones.

Recently, I wrote about mobile industry leaders identifying retail payments as the next ‘killer app’ for mobile wallets . But, for all of the reasons above, mobile commerce is not just about a new way to make payments. It’s about an entirely different transaction medium. The mobile channel creates unprecedented opportunities for enterprises, merchants, brands and financial institutions to establish and maintain direct relationships with customers—and more customers than ever before.

Sure, mobile payments are exciting. But you can also deliver content to customers including mobile discount offers, vouchers and coupons in order to provide better customer targeting, faster time-to-market, lower cost, interactivity and—this is key—the ability to track responses at an individual level.

IDG and SAP (my employer) have a new mobile playbook that helps companies get started on this path. Mobile Commerce: The Path to Customer Engagement is a free download. It’s the final instalment in a three-part series of playbooks that I’ve been writing about since last week.

Some retailers fear mobile shoppers are just showrooming . However, forward-thinking retailers understand that mobile technology provides an opportunity to target customer for marketing, gain deeper insight into their preferences, offer rewards for loyalty, and deliver self-service tools.

For example, a consumer goods manufacturer might print a shortcode on their product packaging that customers can text to for a discount. The customers get a discount. The manufacturer gets their customers’ phone numbers as well as info on what product they bought. And presto: your marketing channel is suddenly much more targeted and much less expensive.

When enterprises use mobile phones to enhance the customer relationship and increase engagement, they can get to know their customers and what they like, so they can serve them better, and offer more products and services they’ll be interested in. When consumers get added value from their purchase transactions, their mobile phones become not only their conduit into the digital world, but also a kind of concierge, simplifying their lives.