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M-commerce remains subsidiary sales channel

By Retail Technology | Friday May 3 2013

A survey carried out among SMB retailers has found 35% of m-commerce buyers were worried about security, while sales remain small

Research from SellerDeck, one of the UK’s longest established suppliers of e-commerce software to small-to medium sized businesses (SMB), has found that, while mobile commerce (m-commerce) offers potential to small businesses, it is still a subsidiary channel. Furthermore, around a third of mobile shoppers have security concerns.
“Undertaking consumer research is an important part of our development process, but it rarely generates any big surprises,” said Phil Rothwell, SellerDeck marketing director. “However, in this survey two things particularly stood out."

Going beyond the hype

The survey revealed that 43% of consumers have made purchases from their mobile devices, but only a few times a year. The other 57% said they "never or very rarely" use m-commerce. Secondly, it suggested around 35% of those that do buy on the move have concerns about security.

Rothwell added: “Perhaps the first statistic is to be expected. It’s not uncommon for hype to lead reality in the IT sector and it is encouraging that online retailers still have time to make their websites mobile-ready. However, the data also suggests they need to take care that they understand the buying behaviours of their customers and gear the level of investment to potential returns.”
Highlighting security concerns
Rothwell also said he felt that the second statistic should be far more concerning to SMB retailers. “Ecommerce vendors have resolved consumers’ concerns about online shopping security from a desktop and consumers seem to have confidence," he added. "Clearly, this has not being carried over into the mobile world, but the reasons why aren’t yet clear.”

Other data in the survey showed that, while 70% of consumers make purchases from home, only 7.5% do so from coffee shops and 14% when travelling. “It’s hard not to conclude that environment factors aren’t also important. After all, who wants to fiddle around tapping credit card numbers into a smartphone in a public place like a crowded bus or train,” he added.

Seizing early advantage

Despite the SellerDeck survey findings, online marketplace eBay expects to see more change in retail because of m-commerce in the next three years than in the past 20 put together. 

"Technological opportunities such as augmented reality, image recognition and GPS present a potential boost of £2.4bn for the retail industry as a whole by 2014," Olivier Ropars, senior director of mobile at eBay. told Retail Technology.

Ropars said that retailers who take advantage of these technologies will be well-placed to succeed. "Those with a High Street presence have a significant advantage over pure online retailers, as consumers can experience the products, get advice from knowledgeable staff and purchase what they desire instantly with no shipping costs," he added. "By using mobile technology, retailers can bring together the best of both online and offline, to improve customer experience and give more reasons for consumers to visit stores."

Mobile tech augments instore

Ropars cited a few examples, which included big box retailers that are starting to use indoor navigation technology on mobile phones for consumers to find their way around stores. He also said many retailers are now offering apps for consumers to scan products and access important product information, such as compatibility, warranty and stock availability in order to sell the right product first time and minimise returns.

He also predicted: "We will start to see retailers offer self-checkout through mobile phones so that consumers do not have to queue to pay.

"The potential is there for mobile technology to help retailers improve the instore experience, as well as store efficiency, leading to improved profitability," concluded Ropars.

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