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Apps do more for in-store transactions than mcommerce: Usablenet exec

As vice president of global product strategy at Usablenet, Mr. Taylor has been instrumental in winning mobile commerce site development business from storied retailers and brands such as American Eagle, Walgreens, Victoria’s Secret, Marks & Spencer, Dell, Delta Air Lines, British Airways and Amtrak – the client that started it all.

With 161 clients, New York-based Mr. Taylor does have insights on mobile Web versus applications – if the choice had to be made – that can guide retailer strategy in the medium.

“Apps in retail play less of a role in mcommerce because the browser on smartphones can handle sophisticated mobile sites for purchases,” Mr. Taylor said.

In this Q&A, Mr. Taylor discusses mobile commerce progress in the United States versus Britain and Asia, as well as the mobile Web versus the application debate and overall trends. Please read on.

What is the view of mobile commerce overseas?
For us the U.K. market is following the U.S. market. It’s about two years behind, but in 2010 we will launch a dozen U.K. retail mcommerce sites and one of those is in the Top 100 retailers in the U.K.

So, for example, Marks & Spencer launched three months ago, which was the first high-street retailer to offer full mcommerce for all products, for all services, for all mobile phones.

Asia is a massive market, mature, but it’s not dominated by smartphones. So less about browsing mobile Web, more about purchasing digital content such as ringtones and music.

Mobile Web will be a dominant factor when smartphones are the dominant device inside the market. So that’s driving the U.S. market, that’s what’s driving the U.K. market.

What’s the major trend you’re seeing in the U.S. in mobile commerce?
Essentially every retailer that has a major Web presence is moving to mobile.

An early example is, by the end of 2010, we would have launched 50 percent of the Top 20 online retailers with mcommerce solutions.

Smartphone use 24 hours a day to access Web content is driving this trend.

Where do apps fall in mobile commerce? What role do they play?
Apps in retail play less of a role in mcommerce because the browser on smartphones can handle sophisticated mobile sites for purchases.

Apps play a strong role for in-store applications such as UPC bar code scanning, gift-registry creation, coupons and gift cards.

An app doesn’t bring a lot to mcommerce, but it does bring a lot to in-store transactions or customer engagement.

What are you most excited about in mobile commerce?
The most exciting thing for us is that mcommerce reflects the same growth that we’re seeing by ecommerce. So it’s set to become as important as ecommerce was.

Mobile will become a natural fourth channels – stores, phone, ecommerce and mcommerce.

What are some of the innovations you’ve introduced in mobile commerce that you’re proud off?
We manage 161 clients, mostly in the U.S. We manage 260 mobile sites for those clients.

What we’re most proud of is this ability to take any type of features, whether it’s a client’s unique retail functionality or a client’s unique travel reservation functionality and extend it to all mobile phones.

The result is that the client’s unique features and benefits are extended and preserved in the mobile space.

We’re an adaptive platform that allows us to leverage the client’s investment in ecommerce out to mcommerce.

The reason why our clients are successful in ecommerce is because they have built solutions to service their specific target audience with very specific features and options.

That importance doesn’t change just because a client is not on a mobile browser.