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Top mobile commerce predictions for 2013

This year, companies such as JCPenney – who promised to get rid of traditional point-of-sale mechanisms and incorporate mobile checkouts in-stores – have put mobile at the core of their marketing efforts. Mobile commerce has already grown more than imagined and although there are more leaps that need to be made, there is no doubt the space will make a bigger impact next year.

“I predict that many retailers that started with quick and dirty transcoded sites will move to API-linked integrated solutions that leverage and extend their ecommerce operations into the mobile space,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.

“Even today, the majority of retailers still do not have a mobile-optimized site catered to the 50-plus percent of Americans who own smartphones,” he said. “PayPal reported that mobile checkout transactions increased 96 percent year-to-year.

“Again mobile commerce will continue to accelerate and gain traction in 2013, as more consumers find better and faster experiences, when shopping on their mobile devices.”

Leaps and bounds
In 2013, social mobile efforts will be a critical way for retailers to drive in-store sales.

Mobile and social complement each other, however, next year marketers should think of more practical ways to marry the two to not only drive in-store traffic, but bolster consumer engagement as well.

“While tablet commerce is an obvious choice as the breakout star for 2013, I predict that smart retailers will start bridging the social-mobile engagement gap by linking physical stores to mobile experiences that offer the option for transactions when the intent to buy is the strongest,” Mr. Kerr said.

“Showrooming remains a big challenge and retailers should seize this bull by the horns by offering consumers experience that they control, with brand, store, or product mobile interactions serving as the trigger,” he said. “QR codes are an easy, low cost way to do this, and I predict NFC will also gain a foothold in 2013, especially if Apple finally sees the writing on the wall and gets onboard.

“Marketers should worry less about social media engagement and focus your attention on mobile commerce engagement that is integrated with your current and proven ecommerce operations and results in trackable ROI. Use physical triggerpoints such as point-of-purchase, print ads or even the products themselves to kick off this engagement.”

Many industry experts believed that this was the year of NFC. However, it was not.

Furthermore, marketers believe that the technology will not be quite ready in 2013 either.

“Don’t hold your breath for ubiquitous NFC in 2013,” said Drew Sievers, CEO of mFoundry.

“There are still too many conflicting interests, a lack of acceptance and too few devices that seamlessly deliver the perfect consumer experience,” he said.

Although NFC may take a while to adopt, consumers are getting comfortable making purchases – both big and small – using their mobile device.

Additionally, mobile applications such as Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook are putting consumers at ease.

For now, Mr. Sievers believes that mobile banking will be very impactful next year.

Financial institutions such as Chase, Bank of America and Citi are investing a lot in mobile and are seeing how essential it is for their customers.

“I know I’m biased, but mobile banking will continue its nonstop march atop of the most-used financial application list,” Mr. Sievers said.

“New features, many wallet-based, will begin to convert mobile bankers into mobile payers,” he said.

In 2013, it is important that marketers experiment early and experiment often.

“Mobile is still a relatively low-cost and low-consequence environment for marketers,” Mr. Sievers said.

“The ones that jump into the fray, testing methods and creative concepts, will be the ones that lead the pack as the mobile channel matures into a real medium,” he said.

Mobile incentives
Mobile incentives will be big in 2013.

Nowadays, consumers will not click on an ad or opt-in to an SMS database if there is not incentive attached.

Therefore, marketers must remember to offer one in their future mobile marketing plans.

“I think 2013 will be the year of mobile incentives,” said Ritesh Bhavnani, chairman/co-founder of Snipp. “Specifically I expect to see mobile couponing and mobile loyalty come to fruition. “Mobile couponing and loyalty solutions are still in their infancy, although lots of companies are approaching the space from many different directions.

“2013 will be the year that companies will finally crack the diversity of retail POS systems and fragmented approaches to provide holistic couponing and loyalty solutions that work across multiple channels and retailers,” he said.
“We’re starting to see examples of that with Apple’s Passbook and other coupon/loyalty solutions, and mobile-based receipt processing solutions like Endorse and our own mobile purchase validation solution.

“The Holy Grail still remains a set of coupons that sit in a mobile wallet and are automatically redeemed upon purchase at any retail location – and upon purchase, an automatic credit for that purchase against the appropriate loyalty programs. We’re a long way from a universal solution for that, but in 2013 we expect to see more solutions that make the entire process of couponing and loyalty more seamless for customers and a corresponding increase in consumer usage of mobile loyalty and coupon solutions.”

Mr. Bhavnani agrees that 2013 will not be the year of NFC, but rather image-based mobile technologies that enable commerce and related activities will prosper.

“More companies will start leveraging mobile phone cameras as an effective way of interacting with their customers and/or providing or gathering information from them,” Mr. Bhavnani said. “For example, enabling customers to submit receipts by taking a photo of the receipt as opposed to mailing it in, or taking a photo of their credit card as a means of entering their credit card information.

“Another example would be using solutions such as augmented reality within store environments to automatically display available product coupons to users as they walk through the aisles,” he said.

“Get involved with mobile incentives. Experiment with couponing by working with a retailer and enabling use of discount codes or bar codes through the POS, or post-purchase through the use of mobile rebates. Mobile rebates are an easy way to motivate purchases and are retailer agnostic, so they can be done without deep POS integration.”

What to expect
According to Chris Mason, co-founder/CEO of Branding Brand, there will be more traffic coming from mobile devices than traditional desktops and laptops.

“Tablets will be big,” Mr. Mason said. “We already hear people talking about tablet-first site replatforms, rather than mobile-first or desktop-first.

“Although this is more of a play on words than a new philosophy, it clearly points to a fundamental shift of focus,” he said. “Pretty soon, the first touchpoint customers have with your brand will be through mobile.

“Design your online and offline marketing efforts with this in mind.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York