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Two topics will continue to dominate the mobile phone industry discussion in 2011, micro search, does the store two blocks up have what your looking for in stock and if not can you use your mobile phone to order the product from an online ecommerce merchant.  We’ve already written here on the local search push so let’s look at mobile commerce (mCommerce).  A 2010 study showed 20% of the mobile marketplace has smartphones already and the adoption rate is growing.  25% of adults have already used location based services such as maps and navigation.  The study also indicated over 50% of those have taken action on a mobile advertisement.  Furthermore 45% of people polled indicated their next phone would be a smart phone.

The adoption of smart phones is undeniable in its impact on commerce.  Mobile commerce is more than just another device to purchase from.  Mobile opens up a truly efficient , “anywhere anytime” channel for would be consumers.  Understanding how customers in your specific niche engage you is critical in forming the best possible mobile strategy.  Many studies are already out there regarding the impact of mobile commerce however the vast majority are focusing on the impact to traditional brick and mortar sales.  For example, the ability for a customer to price check with the vendor one mile down the road before buying that new washer dryer set, or to check consumer feedback on a particular item.

However, the impact of mobile will be felt by pure e-Commerce players as well.  As the devices get better and the experience improves more and more users will engage the internet via such devices, bypassing their laptops and pc’s altogether .   It will be imperative for pure play eCommerce companies to have  a solution that embraces the mobile consumer and serves the unique characteristics of this channel while maintaining your message.   Its more important to understand what information is most desired by consumers in a mobile environment.  Your screen real estate is limited and speed [to secondary pages] can be reduced so its vital to get them to what they want quickly.  For example, a site search function may be more relevant in a mobile world over a category search function that requires 3-4 steps.  For example, I can search by “reclining leather sofa”  in one step or using categories it might be “furniture – sofa – leather – recliner” via multiple steps.

The space and size limitations of the platform also effect checkout.  Be sure to test your checkout process, make sure it flows easily and quickly and reduces the need for entry of too much data.  Support for services such as PayPal mobile will be vital to reducing abandonment.  As mobile technology continues to improve at breakneck speed, so to will the adoption of m-commerce.  New technologies will improve the speed of access, the presentation of media, trust in the transaction, and overall experience for the consumer.  I don’t believe mCommerce will replace eCommerce in the near future as some have predicted.  Though I do believe it is another important channel to engage your customers where they are, when they want and how they want it….