The words “wireless web” conjure up all sorts of excitement these days, especially in the context of on-line commerce.
However, contrary to what many believe, the only similarity between mobile commerce (m-commerce) and traditional browser-based e-business is that it too is a powerful new business channel.
While m-commerce can and should leverage the investments made in the e-business infrastructure, the consumer and the technology are as different to traditional browser-based e-commerce as e-business was to brick and mortar business.
Consider when the first Web sites for e-commerce arrived. Successful online ventures didn`t reapply the same business models and approach that brick and mortar retailers used to build a storefront. They knew that the audience of the World Wide Web was different and the potential customer was now anonymous. The ease of moving from site to site with a click of the mouse made competition and customer service critical. Suddenly, on-line retailers were faced with a host of new challenges and potential rewards, as e-business became a new channel for revenue.
The same situation applies to the emerging m-commerce market. This too is a new channel for revenue that is significantly different than browser-based business, and it is evolving at breakneck speed. Today`s mobile customer is identifiable, locatable and immediately in “buying mode” once they turn on their wireless device. E-business back-end data and business logic can be leveraged for the m-commerce application. But, the rich content and features from the wired Web site won`t meet this buyer`s needs; in fact it may deter them from visiting the site.
The Web and the Mobile Consumer are very different animals. And because they are so different they must be treated in very different ways.
The Web is anonymous. The Web is used by people always sitting at a PC. 98% of those on it are browsing. And only 2% are buying. The value of a transaction? Low.
Now here`s the Mobile Consumer.
They`re always on. They`re completely identifiable. They`re truly locatable. They deal in high value transactions. They`re willing to pay for the service they want. There`s a high service demand. They want to be push enabled. And they have a 1-to-1 connection with customer.
Rather than applying a quick-fix approach to achieve a wireless Web presence, organizations need to develop an m-commerce strategy that will extend and grow. Mobile commerce is not a Web add on. It is a separate channel giving customer`s separate access. It`s a world of new sites, not just a bunch of reformatted Web sites. It allows for customization of any wireless site based upon the user profile. And there is no lowest common denominator of devices. Successful deployments rest on an m-commerce application that offers a robust platform to support the site`s complexity. It needs to be secure, fast, reliable and scalable to meet growing business demands. Additionally, the application must stay up-and-running even when a change is made to the wired Web site. It should also allow customized views based on usage patterns and the ability to push information. Finally, the m-commerce application needs to work globally - on all wireless devices.
With all these requirements, where do you start? First, identify the services and features that make sense for the audience. The mobile consumer is interacting with the business because they know what they want to buy, and time or location is critical to the transaction. Make a list of activities or transactions that meet this consumer profile. Once these are enumerated, identify the sources of data for these transactions; whether it is a corporate database, market feeds, application server information, etc. Then you can determine what devices will be best suited for each service, and which features of the individual mobile platform best uses these services. With this information, you can start to define the new business channel.
In the race to go mobile, it is important to remember that today`s wire line e-commerce did not spring up overnight by merely repackaging the brick and mortar shopping experience. Neither can the mobile commerce site - as it may someday.