Mobile Shopping's Ugly Truth

Josh GordonIt is easy to get carried away in the world of technology marketing, especially within retail. A new technology emerges, the bandwagon fills up, and the sustainability watch begins. Since mobile is the crown jewel of the emerging direct digital marketing pillars, it is interesting to see many solution providers struggling to identify the path to making gobs of money off of such a convenient and personal communications channel. Many believe the proper marketing use of the mobile channel is to send personalized incentives with mass reach (text messaging) to create store traffic and connect the digital shopping experience with the physical shopping experience… simultaneously enhancing both. Recently developments in the world of mobile marketing, however, point to another legitimate scenario.

According to a recent study from Thomas/Ferrous, Inc. and Q&A Research, a high concentration – 48 percent – of consumers who download apps have downloaded a shopping app.

While that number seems high, we must keep in mind that only about a quarter of mobile-savvy consumers actually download apps in the first place. The concentration is high, but the total number of those downloading and using shopping apps is not.

There are two takeaways from this still developing market.

First, competition is not just coming from the store next door, across the street, or across town. The competition has now invaded the physical shopping space. Reaching price sensitive shoppers who scour the mobile Web for a deal while in your store becomes challenging, and places an extra need on improvements to the experience of shopping. Since it is still early in 2010 it is fair to predict that capturing mobile-savvy, price sensitive shoppers is an emerging challenge for marketers.

Second, mCommerce also raises the question of attribution. Should the mobile channel be used to capture sales like the Web, or redirect and incentivize consumers to shop online or in-store? Both mobile strategies are currently in play, with a winner far from determined.

While consumer adoption of purchasing items on a mobile device still remains low, it will be interesting to watch as mobile battles to become another selling channel alongside the Web. Regardless of what happens, SMS stills play an integral role in any mobile marketing campaign, whether a text points a consumer to a store or a mobile website.

The fate and future of mCommerce is not yet decided by any estimation. But the question is worth asking: Does mCommerce deserve a line item on the retailer’s marketing budget, or is mobile better used as a way to connect the Web and bricks-and-mortar channels?

Bookmark and Share
%d bloggers like this: