What the @#%! is mcommerce?

Posted by Kate Jurras on Fri, Apr 6, 2012

john caron 2 resized 600This is the second post in our mobile blog series. Throughout the month of April we'll be featuring posts from some of Boston's most expert thought leaders, answering these questions: "What's happening in mobile right now? What's coming soon?This post is by John Caron, SVP, Marketing, Modiv Media. John is a tech industry veteran, with over 20 years of entrepreneurial and leadership experience in media, retail and commerce technology and services. A frequent industry speaker and contributor, he can be found speaking at many conferences. Follow him or Modiv on Twitter: @jcaron2 or @modiv.

$1 Trillion. Yes, with a “T.” Yankee Group estimates mobile transactions will grow to that number by 2015 (sounds like a demand from Dr. Evil!). eBay and PayPal forecast $8B in mcommerce revenue and $7B in mpayments for 2012. Starbucks has processed over 26 million mobile payments. And, we’re just getting started. So, it’s clear that mcommerce is happening. What’s not clear is what the @#%! mcommerce actually is. Google “mcommerce stats” and you’ll read that we already buy BILLIONS of dollars of stuff via mcommerce. I, however, disagree.

What’s happening right now is a hodgepodge of commerce via mobile devices. There’s mobile enabled ecommerce, tablet commerce (aka: couch commerce… love that term!), mobile payment, mobile wallets and, finally, in-store mcommerce. Buying a TV from BestBuy via your iPad isn’t mcommerce. It’s mobile-enabled ecommerce. Don’t agree? Check this stat: 90% of tablet use is over Wi-Fi. The same holds true for an app you can use in the store, but actually transacts with an ecommerce site. Both involve the use of mobile devices, but are not connected to the actual in-store experience or point-of-sale (POS) system.

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But, why is POS integration so important? Because it closes the loop on mobile. It enables retailers and their CPG partners to figure out how mobile is influencing in-store purchasing behavior and decisions. It determines whether or not a coupon received before shopping or an instantly delivered, real-team offer is more effective… and the long-term lift it drives. It lets retailers converge the physical store with the mobile world thereby connecting each shopper with the store on a personalized basis. This is a profound difference and fundamental to the growth of mcommerce.

So, where do we go from here? Up and out. With Social. The ability for retailers to enable shoppers to change each others’ behavior. To be able to share coupons and offers they receive via their (retailer-branded) mobile app to drive awareness, usage and loyalty.

Imagine a scenario where you receive a killer coupon while shopping. You share that coupon instantly via the app on Facebook and your friends can grab that coupon and use it at the same retailer (any location). They can share it too, and their friends can grab it as well. And, so on (with caps on shares/grabs and the ability to track who shared with whom). This isn’t the brand or retailer simply posting a coupon on their Facebook page (snooze!). This is about networks of shoppers sharing and engaging each other to influence behavior. It’s massively powerful and transformational in the use and adoption of mcommerce.

I recently wrote a piece for Forbes.com where I clarified what’s big for mcommerce in 2012. It appears that many retailers, and the mcommerce industry, agree that convergence of the mobile and physical worlds is inevitable. For savvy retailers, the question they will ask is not if they’ll be enabling in-store mcommerce this year, but what will they be doing in addition to boost revenue, loyalty and harness the true power of mobile. Social + Mobile in the store is core to that.