The Seattle Times caught my eye today with this piece documenting why retailers remain lukewarm on the whole concept of mobile commerce. The piece cites Forrester Research data indicating mobile accounted for less than 2.5 percent of all online purchases last year, and it quotes a Forrester analyst decrying how retailers “have been burned getting very, very hyped up over mobile” only to see mobile purchases disappoint.
I don’t doubt Forrester’s data here: While app download revenues are surging, it’s no surprise that mobile purchases for physical goods and services on the phone lag behind far behind PCs. Phones are clearly inferior for tasks like browsing and comparing prices, and entering credit card information (or linking to existing online accounts on the phone) can still be painful.
That’s why the top priorities for retailers in the mobile world should be building solid mobile websites, establishing relationships with their customers, delivering targeted ads and discounts, and encouraging them to come in to the store or to visit online stores on their PCs. Closing a transaction through a mobile phone is still a pretty difficult task, but ignoring every mobile commerce strategy is short-sighted and dangerous.