December 18, 2012

mobile commerce in 2013

Written By Martin Sandhu

The explosion of mobile use over the last few years has been phenomenal. Even though the time when mobile phones were the size, and weight, of bricks may feel like an age ago, in reality it really isn’t.

A spate of recent studies and surveys have proved that m-commerce has seriously taken off in 2012. Shopping on the internet is now more popular in the UK than in any other country, according to new figures from Ofcom and an increasing amount of those purchases are being made on mobile devices.

What it means for retailers is that mobile is no longer a ‘nice to have’ and certainly in 2013 it will become a critical factor for staying in business. Many larger businesses have had a mobile optimised website or a basic app for a few years, but as more and more people make impulse buys on their phones and tablets user experiences is a key factor.

Whilst the convenience of shopping online has long been a winning aspect of its popularity, there is a certain human element which is lost when purchasing online and some retailers are already seeking to address this.

One branch of shopping online, which many would not have predicted to be so popular is prescription glasses. Perhaps the most obvious hurdle is the inability to try the spectacles on before purchasing; but returns are difficult too, as the glasses are personalised via their prescription making a return almost impossible to resell. Virtual changing rooms allowing shoppers to upload a picture of themselves and try the glasses on were the answer.

This augmented reality works even better on mobile devices as the camera is already right there. Online jeweller Ice’s mobile application allows consumers to try on every piece of jewellery available to purchase online. According to Econsultancy: “When a shopper finds something they like, they can tap ‘try it on’ on the product page and the application lines up the user’s finger or wrist with the item of jewellery via the user’s camera.

Mobile shopping is no longer purely the playground of the smaller items or less extravagant buys either. Despite early predictions that larger, more expensive items would remain the domain of desktop internet, it seems consumers are just as comfortable buying them on their mobile device. PayPal recently revealed that the largest mobile transaction it’s processed this year was for a $48,000 bulldozer! It means high-end, luxury and electrical retailers need to prepared for even more mobile shoppers. Those items that are physically larger need to be clearly labelled with dimensions so shoppers can find the information they need instantly. Luxury retailers need to find a way of replicating their in-store experience on a screen just a few inches in size.

A final thought on m-commerce in 2013, is one about the perils of mobile devices. We’ve all seen ‘damnyouautocorrect’ and the likes, but auto-correct and typing in general is difficult for many smartphone users, meaning retailers need to thing carefully about how much information they are asking consumers to type in. Not only can it become frustrating, but it can also lead to expensive errors in the purchase and delivery process. Could 2013 be the year that gives us a solution to the ever irritating issue?