Commentary

Getting the Parts of Mobile Commerce to Work Together

Some parts of the mobile commerce chain are yet to be glued together.

This became obvious yet again as following the Mobile Insider Summit in Captiva Florida this week, I happened to have dinner at a fine restaurant in Fort Myers.

Upon being seated, the waiter handed us a magnificent piece of tablet technology, with bright and colorful displays of the potential food coming. One click over a menu item, and we could see in rich colors a photo of the particular meal sitting on a plate, just waiting for our click-to-order.

But wait. There’s no place to click.

The tablet is just a digital display version of the traditional menu. Slightly better than a PDF, since it is somewhat interactive in that a click on an item provides more information about that item.

And the idea of seeing the breadth of an entire restaurant menu? Gone in this digital iteration as the diner swipes from one page to another until hitting the desert menu, signaling the end of the line.

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Our waiter, seemingly quite excited about the information the tablet, provided us a demonstration as he quickly swiped and tapped screens showing of how to use it (he had obviously done this many times before).

When it came to order, we found our waiter and he promptly pulled out a pad of paper and a pencil. He opined that a waiter using a digital handheld device for taking orders took away from the personal interaction, since the waiter had to focus more on tapping in the right buttons.

For paying? Yes, you guessed it, we handed him a credit card. Totally old school.

For some, mobile commerce starts with payments, totally enabling consumers. For others, it’s about enabling store associates, such as giving American Airlines flight attendants tablets.

And for others, it’s about bringing consumers along gradually, such as by introducing them to mobile commerce capabilities, such as the restaurant we visited.

Various pieces are falling into place. The next step in the mobile commerce revolution, somewhat around the corner, is go link all of these pieces together.

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