Think you have time to idle over your mobile commerce launch? Not so. Seventy-one percent of companies see m-commerce as very or extremely important to the future of their organizations, according to nearly 900 qualified respondents to our InformationWeek and Mobile Commerce World survey. Companies such as MGM Resorts International see mobile as a new way to drive revenue. In a press event during the recent Interop show in Las Vegas, MGM chief digital officer John Bollen didn't showcase a big data or security initiative. Instead, Bollen demonstrated a Bellagio casino mobile app that runs on iOS and Android. Guests can be alerted to discounts and loyalty programs and, for example, can purchase last-minute show tickets using the app while at dinner. "If seats are empty, we're not making money," says Bollen. The app lets the resort collect data to dynamically price goods ranging from bottles of wine to spa treatments.
Mobile commerce isn't some far-off pilot project. One-third of qualified respondents anticipate implementing a comprehensive m-commerce strategy within a year; an additional 26% already have one in place. About one-third say m-commerce represents the future, and they're enthusiastically embracing it, and an additional 40% say it will help them reach new customers and be more efficient.
IT budgets reflect this commitment, with greater than half of m-commerce-involved IT respondents with budgets in place indicating allocations are up compared with a year ago. Companies are chasing growth: Digital marketing analyst eMarketer states that U.S. retail mobile commerce sales grew by 81% to nearly $25 billion in 2012 and constituted 11% of U.S. e-commerce sales, a percentage that the firm expects will grow to 15% this year and 24% in 2016, when total mobile retail sales could hit $86.6 billion, excluding travel and event tickets. IBM says m-commerce transactions grew by 31% in the first quarter compared with just a 3.7% overall rise in retail sales.
To gauge adoption of mobile commerce, we conducted a wide-ranging survey that reached three stakeholder groups: IT professionals not in financial services, payments or telecom; banking and payments professionals; and telecommunications professionals. We focus on IT respondents here; you can find complete survey results in our full report.
The Time Is Now
So if mobile commerce is growing, the question for IT is, "How do we do it right?"
First and foremost, understand that mobile commerce isn't just about transactions on mobile devices; mobile offers a means to engage with customers in richer, more individualized ways, by incorporating loyalty programs, incentives and location. M-commerce examples include shopping on a tablet, paying via a smartphone, receiving discount coupons when close to a particular store and paying a roaming salesperson who's using an iPhone as a point-of-sale terminal.
Second, IT must help the business sort through critical decisions, such as whether to build a mobile Web page or apps for various platforms, and how to integrate with existing e-commerce and other back-end systems. Survey respondents worry about compliance, consumer perception that mobile commerce is unsafe, confusion over business models, slow connectivity and integration with existing systems. They should also be wary about the fragmented smartphone platform market and the not-yet-mature HTML5 specification.
Third, IT needs to help companies understand the huge cast of characters all wanting a piece of the action. Mobile commerce spans mobile OS platform vendors, such as Apple and Google; online retailers; the major credit card issuers; banks; mobile application platform vendors; and, increasingly, handset vendors as they implement enabling technologies such as NFC (near field communication). Among these stakeholders, mobile device and OS vendors are taking the lead in m-commerce, according to 45% of IT pro respondents at organizations with m-commerce strategies in place or timelines for adoption. Next are banks and credit card issuers, cited by 22%.
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