Top mobile commerce opportunities for 2011

By Giselle Tsirulnik, Mobile Marketer

Mobile commerce is no longer a niche opportunity, according to industry experts.

This year, companies large and small across every industry are investing in mobile technology to sell their services to consumers and improve their bottom lines, according to OpenMarket. Mobile commerce has transformed from a nice-to-have, to a must-have offering.

“The ability to purchase physical goods on mobile devices is poised for growth in 2011,” said Jay Emmet, general manager of OpenMarket, Seattle. “Purchasing virtual goods via mobile phone is now commonplace and buying physical goods – such as movie tickets, coffee and other low-cost items – is set to expand next year.

“More merchants will begin to offer easy to use mobile payments for physical goods to attract new customers, especially with the tech-savvy crowd,” he said.

“With recent trial partnerships, operators also understand the importance of growing the mobile payment market when it comes to physical goods and will increase their support of this activity.”

The merchant opportunity
 In 2011, mobile devices will provide an alternative to credit cards, especially for purchases under $25.

Merchants want to offer consumers easy access to their products and services via the mobile medium, but securing separate deals with dozens of different carriers is difficult.

The process can be streamlined when a company like OpenMarket eliminates the hassle and enables merchants to transact across many different wireless carriers, per Mr. Emmet.

“Some hurdles between merchants and operators still exist, including transparency into payment systems, revenue share distribution and legal risk,” Mr. Emmet said. “However, in 2011, we’ll see further movement to resolve these complexities, with efforts from operators and merchants alike.”

Commerce-enabled mobile Web
Matthew Poepsel, vice president of performance strategies at Gomez, the Web performance division of Compuware, said that retailers should concentrate on launching a mobile commerce presence in 2011.

For those that have one in place, it is important to work on the performance of the mobile site.

Gomez, through numerous consumer surveys as well as its most recent holiday Retail User Experience (UX) Index, has found that overall, mobile Web performance is still no match for the traditional PC Web.

Mobile sites are reminiscent of where the overall Web was 10 years ago, performance-wise.

So while consumers are increasing their use of mobile devices to augment the shopping experience – checking product availability in stores and comparing prices – they will still likely abandon mobile purchasing on sites that are not optimized for the on-the-go experience, similar to shopping cart abandonment in the early days of ecommerce.

“We believe that any major increase in mobile commerce transactions this holiday season and into early 2011, are likely going to be the results of mobile apps,” Mr. Poepsel said. “The key to getting consumers to actually buy items on mobile sites is to deliver a great mobile Web experience.”

Mobile apps for commerce
Mobile applications offer retailers another valuable opportunity to connect with customers, particularly by pushing coupons and sales.

Retailers must measure and optimize the performance of mobile applications as part of their overall mobile Web strategy, particularly in anticipation of heavy deals and incentives periods like the holidays.

“If your mobile site or apps are slower than your competitor’s, you give your competitors a chance to score impulse purchases from your would-be customers,” Mr. Poepsel said.