The Shifting Goalposts of Mobile Commerce

  • by , Columnist, August 7, 2014

This week’s OMMA event for mobile commerce in New York is surely a sign that mobile commerce has come of age. Of course, the stats speak for themselves: by the end of the year, half of all traffic to retail sites will be mobile, and 51% of online buyers will make a purchase from a mobile device.

But the level of engagement from retailers to support this event is a very positive sign. I remember back in 2010 when I helped deliver Marks & Spencer’s first mobile commerce site in the UK, no one had any idea if it would work, and the question was frequently asked: “Who’s going to buy socks and pants off their mobile phone?” The answers came thick and fast, with each week bringing new sales records, and stories of double beds and leather couch suites being purchased on mobile generating huge excitement.

But I feel that it’s very easy for the industry to now pat ourselves on the back that we mostly have mobile-ready transactional sites that are delivering decent returns. Perhaps a little too easy.



For me, the goalposts have shifted for mobile commerce. While we know that we need to deliver simple and effective transactions, the reality is that mobile’s influence has spread inexorably across the purchase funnel, and most retailers’ mobile offerings are only addressing the needs of users right at the very end.

I believe there are new trends in commerce that only mobile can really deliver on, and I hope we will hear a lot about them today.

 Retail as entertainment

  • Our research shows that Millennials and teens are increasingly using commerce sites, and the consumption of product information, as entertainment. So commerce sites should not be single-function sales channels, but offer more rounded engagement and community, with the product at the heart

 Integrated CRM

  • Email has long been a critical part of any commerce offering, but there’s a new kid in town in the form of app notifications. These are not a direct replacement, but can be an effective channel to deliver a different kind of purchase or engagement impulse.

Location, location

  • We’re only at the start of figuring out how to create seamless omnichannel journeys, but the advent of cellphone ubiquity and Beacon creates an intriguing data-led model for retail presence as a trigger for direct communications.
New purchase models
  • The success of new models such as the Dollar Shave Club are showing how even in low-interest categories, factors such as convenience and channel can make a big impact. Mobile is now used to manage everything from your bank account to your social life, and the device is ripe to provide similar upheaval in retail.

The game is on for mobile and retail – the question is, will we be looking far enough into the future?


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