M-commerce is ready to go mainstream…but can the mobile networks support it?

For me, 2010 has finally been the year that mobile took off. I remember sitting on a packed commuter train roughly two years ago and being amazed at the number of people with Blackberry’s and iPhones buzzing away in their sweaty palms. Of course, two years on and smart phone usage has grown exponentially, meaning mobile Internet is very much part of the here and now.

Emailing, social networking and browsing the web are all part and parcel of using a smart phone, but the one ‘ing’ missing is retailing. This is starting to change with companies like ASOS, Tesco and Marks & Spencer making significant moves into the world of m-commerce. However, to go truly mainstream the mobile networks need to step up their game to prove to consumers that the concept is viable.

Last month, a joint initiative between advertising, mobile and retail trade bodies was announced, the aim of which is to help members take full advantage of  mobile retail. This is of course great news but, in my view, more needs to be done between the big three mobile operators (Orange, O2 and Vodaphone) to encourage mainstream adoption by consumers. High quality, low cost, secure Internet access and better data syndication between networks and retailers is essential in giving the masses faith in mobile commerce.

For retailers the opportunity is huge. Saying it’s on par with that of ecommerce ten years ago is probably going a step too far, but I truly believe mobile commerce has the potential to be a game changer. For retailers, particularly those in the luxury sector for example, mobile commerce offers the chance to reach time poor and cash rich individuals on the go. Retailers are certainly not failing to identify this opportunity; the three trade bodies issued a joint research piece in August citing that 40% of UK retailers are planning to launch a transactional mobile site or app within 12 months.

So the message is clear, consumers and brands are ready for m-commerce. Its now time for the networks to get moving!

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