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The Coming Ubiquity of Mobile Commerce

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The Coming Ubiquity of Mobile CommerceAt this point, it's probably safe to say that everyone has heard the term 'e-commerce'. As with all technological innovation, however, it continues to evolve; the new kid on the block is mobile commerce, known as 'm-commerce'. Even as e-commerce had brick and mortar retailers scrambling to keep pace, m-commerce has had online retailers in a very similar position. While many retailers have tried in the past to leverage the mobile marketplace, consumers weren't initially convinced, as most offerings were clunky, flashy, and not very carefully attuned to their real needs. But thanks to that initial round of (admittedly unsuccessful) user testing, industry players now have a better idea of how to leverage the sector.

In fact, the excitement over the mobile retail space has become so prevalent that according to a recent survey conducted by industry association Internet Retailer in 2012, 322 retailers from IR's 'Top 500' list had either a downloadable app or a website enhanced for mobile browsing. To give a sense of the rapidity of the increase, in 2010 only 76 of the Top 500 retailers had channel offerings specifically geared towards mobile.

Some retailers are going after sales in the mobile space more seriously than others, however, and they're starting to see some serious return on their investment, with many retailers achieving over 20% of their annual sales volume in the mobile space, and some retailers reaching as high as 30%. Numbers like these should make every online retailer sit up and take notice, and then quickly begin to plan out strategies for their own forays into m-commerce. Fortunately, the beginnings of a blueprint for m-commerce success are being created.

As in any retail situation, it's important that your promotions, inventory and pricing remain consistent across all channels, which can cause serious headaches if the marketing and sales departments suddenly have to update two websites. Coding in HTML5 can simplify this problem by allowing retailers to maintain a single site that works fluidly across various platforms and browsers, ensuring consistency. It also allows for more complex functionality than is traditionally expected from mobile browsing, creating an environment that functions more akin to an app than a website.

It's also important to focus on the user experience for mobile consumers, as they have a different set of goals and expectations of functionality than consumers who are in a desktop environment. This will vary dramatically from retailer to retailer, so it's important to work closely with consumers to develop a user experience that actually satisfies their needs. Simply put, a better user experience will significantly add to your bottom line, while a bad user experience will detract from it.
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