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Why is a mobile commerce presence necessary?

By Zameer Ahmed

The early virtual-store revolution began in the 1990s when ecommerce provided the shopping experience directly to customers on their Web-enabled computers rather than the other way around.

Today, mobile has emerged as a powerful medium to enhance transactions for retailers. With new Web-enabled smartphones functioning almost like computers, it has become imperative for retailers to offer yet a more personalized shopping experience to consumers.

Given the demands on consumers – family, work, friends, commitments – smartphones are becoming an indispensable tool for those who want to search, order and transact from the comfort of a mobile device.

There are nearly 172 million smartphones in the market worldwide, with an expected year-over-year growth rate of 25 percent, according to Gartner Inc.

With such a growing platform for mobile commerce, retailers must develop a mobile commerce strategy that ties in with multichannel retailing efforts.

The mobile commerce effort should include a mobile commerce site and, if needed, a complementary application that have such features as a store locator, search engine, rich imagery and transaction capability.

So why is a mobile commerce presence necessary? The reasons include:

? Easy to use store locators

? Easy to promote deals

? Elevate the brand
? Improve convenience

? Optimize in-store experience

? Create engaging content

? Bring a rich shopping experience

? Ability to offer direct discounts to consumers because it is cost-effective

? Real-time updates on deals, store openings and discounts

? Increase incremental sales from on-the-go consumers

Retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Sears, JC Penney, Kraft, eBay and Amazon are deploying smartphone applications and sites to great acclaim.

In fact, auction platform eBay is gunning for a whopping $ 1.5 billion in mobile sales this year, up from $500 million last year. Amazon’s mobile site traffic is second only to eBay, according to Nielsen.

There is no reason why most retailers cannot jump-start their mobile commerce efforts given that the environment and technology for on-the-go shopping and buying are improving by the day.

Zameer Ahmed is sales manager of TechJini Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, India. Reach him at [email protected].