Every day I receive a link to a news article describing how powerful mobile shopping, or m-commerce has become. 98% of mobile commerce revenue is from iPads and there were $240 billion of mobile payments in 2011 – rising to $1trillion in 2015, Amazon have sold $1bn of products in the last 12 months, and eBay sold $5bn of products last year.
However, I think we’re about to see a step change in these revenues, because most m-commerce offerings are simply migrating their web offering to a mobile equivalent – either through app or a web browser. The statistics above are still mightily impressive, however there’s a lot more room to grow.
Amazon’s one click ordering makes it easy to buy a product, and eBay’s feedback rating is a brilliant piece of loyalty marketing – once you’ve won an item via Buy It Now or through an auction, the feedback rating psychologically compels consumers to go through with the purchase without any of eBay’s manual overhead.
Both of these systems are great for impulse buying, but are separated from marketing.
The next version of m-commerce will marry brand marketing and impulse buying. Consider these two scenarios:
- A consumer sees a poster advert in a train station promoting a new film. The consumer will soon be able to connect their smartphone to the poster – whether through the camera, wireless or another communication channel, and order tickets to the film at their preferred cinema.
- A consumer sees a poster advert of a perfume. They connect their smart phone to the poster, enter a quick and fast security check, and that perfume is then ordered and delivered to the consumer.
These scenarios require a number of barriers to be broken down before the purchase process can be made quickly and easily. Consumers won’t have the time or inclination to enter 4 pieces of information from their credit card for each purpose – it needs to be simplified. A current example of this is PayPal’s mobile app which has been simplified recently to remove long passwords and replace them with a 4 digit PIN number.
In order for this new world to occur, three things need to happen:
- The technology needs to be in place. As pointed out, with PayPal and existing smartphones, I think this is already in place.
- Marketing agencies need to help design the buying process. The agencies will need to help the commerce store with the actual purchase rather than a brand awareness exercise – and this will be difficult to achieve. It will be a huge educational process and mindset change for marketing and design agencies.
I don’t think this can be achieved with QR codes because they are still clunky; require their own app and a decent Internet connection. Most consumers still don’t understand what a QR code is. QR codes also fragment the buying process, sending consumers off to websites rather than enabling a one-click, under 20 second buying process.
- The single fulfilment store. One key player that has the infrastructure to do this is Apple. Imagine if they rebranded the App Store as simply ‘The Store’. A consumer sees the perfume poster above, links their iPhone to the poster, and orders through ‘The Store’. Apple already has the payment information and owner’s address – in the App Store. They also have the cash to setup the distribution infrastructure.
Other contenders to be able to do this are Amazon and possibly Google. Or we could see a new player/ brand emerge, who won’t need to worry about the legacy of ‘old’ e-commerce systems and behaviours. Tesco have tried a system in Korea, however I think it was more of a marketing stunt or a proof of concept. And when I mention legacy systems, the future of m-commerce described above will be single, impulsive purchases, probably linked to brands, unlike the Tesco video which is a small step forward from shopping online.
Once these three component are in place, consumers will consider this as standard shopping behaviour. The holy grail of marketing will have been achieved – Marketing will have become directly linked to the purchase.
Photo courtesy of Eric on Flickr.