Mobile commerce takes flight in 2013

With nearly two out of three* consumers using mobile devices to research products and make purchases, the adaptation to this ever changing consumer shopping behavior is more crucial than ever. 

2012 showcased how mobile commerce has evolved. The majority of retailors and financial institutions worldwide have now moved to a mobile commerce platform. Banks see it as a way to cut out the credit card middleman to reap a higher cut of the fees that are paid to terminate transactions, while credit card companies, like Visa and MasterCard, need to keep their hand in the mobile game to make sure they can protect their transactional business and, in the future, potentially drive higher volumes of transactions through smartphones. Analysts from eMarketer looked at projections from Gartner and Juniper Research and found that in 2012, the U.S. mobile payments market will be worth $640 million. By 2016, the total transaction value of mobile payments in the U.S. will hit $62.24 billion. Although the user base is still relatively small, with only 7.9 million users in 2012, usage is expected to grow during the next few years to 48.1 million mobile payment users by 2016. 

What’s next? 2013 will be all about the entry into mobile shopping – a solution that offers a more holistic approach to the entire shopping experience, not simply the payment method. 

This past year, 43 percent of smartphone owners used their mobile device while in a store for a shopping purpose – not simply a payment method.** Where Mobile Commerce is a means to an end, mobile shopping embraces reshaping the entire shopping experience in-store and everywhere else to meet the demands of the new mobile empowered consumer. Mobile shopping is more than making purchases or searching for products on a device, it is the incorporation of new mobile accessible value added services that benefit shoppers and transform the Smartphone into a new service. It is no longer enough to offer a mobile application that looks nice, but does nothing for the entire retail experience. In order to retain valuable customers and increase sales, mobile applications must offer a real value added service to the end user. 

Many companies are already utilizing this holistic approach. Zipcar discussed at MobileCon how their future innovations will include using a mobile device to become an ‘in-car assistant’ to help navigate, plan an itinerary, build an iTunes playlist and provide information about the car. Retail giant Target upped their mobile initiatives this fall focused on increasing mobile use around the holidays. By providing QR codes on popular toys in store, busy moms are able to scan the code, buy the toy via their mobile device, and have the product delivered to their homes without worrying about kids noticing a gift slipped into the shopping cart. Target also revealed a mobile toy catalog, complete with coupons that can be used on a guest’s purchase, further evolving the mobile shopping experience. This year at the National Retail Federation, AIRTAG will be demonstrating how their UK partnership with McDonalds allows customers to place orders and pay for them via smartphone, so by the time they arrive at the restaurant, they can swipe their phone to check in, quickly collect their Freedom Fries and get on their way.

Consumers have mobilized, which, in turn, has created a new set of values as to what constitutes a good shopping experience. Mobile Shopping is a new opportunity for retailers to create value at all stages of the customer journey, in-store and everywhere else through interactive and engaging experiences and maximize the value for the end user.

In 2013, retailers who do not opt for a Mobile Shopping Solution risk being left behind. So, why aren’t more retailers implementing Mobile Shopping solutions? There are a couple of reasons retailers may not be taking the mobile plunge:  

1. Readiness of information systems: Retailers may be hesitant to adopt a mobile solution because of very specific POS systems & devices. Fortunately, this can be overcome through the implementation of “plug & play” solutions, which don’t disrupt the existing POS. 

2. Retailers may fear associated costs, as Mobile Shopping Solutions can range anywhere from 30$/month to thousands. However, solution providers have adapted by using platform and use based solutions that make Mobile Shopping accessible for everyone from globally recognized retailers to the local bakery.   

The most influential reason retailers should aim to deliver an omni-channel experience in 2013, is the incomparable competitive advantage it creates amongst their competition in connecting with the highly empowered consumer of today. Retailers delivering new value added services that streamline the shopper experience and solve the problems your customers face in-store will be more than one step ahead; consumers will have a reason to become loyal to stores again.

As the mobilized consumer gets more used to ordering food from their phone and skipping the line, experiencing the conveniences of virtual grocery shopping (which allows them to beat the rush and acquire additional savings), those retailers without a mobile presence might just find themselves shutting their not so virtual windows.

Jérémie Leroyer is the CEO of AIRTAG, the mobile shopping ecosystems startup that provides end-to-end mobile shopping solutions including in-store devices and secure mobile applications. He can be reached AIRTAGteam@horngroup.com