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eCommerce going the M-commerce way

Mobile commerce transactions are set to surpass record levels of $3.2 Trillion by 2017. This is no surprise considering that mobiles have become ubiquitous making it mandatory for retailers to include it as part of their consumer strategy. This becomes especially critical in an age of fickle loyalty and numerous opportunities for the shopper.

The secret to success lies in distinguishing the mobile buying experience despite the limited real estate available via the mobile screen. So, here is what every retailer has already done or is doing in targeting the mobile consumer segment:

For shoppers, seeing is believing. Retailers are now making the mobile storefront or show rooming an appealing experience. Rather than content, they are making use of visual themes to promote and attract consumer traffic. Some methods adopted are – simulated product environments now give consumers an opportunity to see and experience products. 3D images that give an all-round picturesque representation are gaining prominence. Retailers are even employing professional photographers for visually enticing images. Although it is a challenge to recreate the exact showroom ambience in an online mode, firms are investing in technology to provide as real an experience as possible. For example, real estate firms use virtual, simulated representations to create the exact replica of the interiors of a building. Retailers can now leverage the same technology to create the dimensions and contours of physical products and depict them as 3D representations. Furniture giant IKEA is already promoting augmented reality on mobiles to entice customers.

Another major breakthrough is the Mobile Image Recognition (MIR) that is gaining traction in the mobile commerce market. If you see a particular product you like and capture it in your mobile, you can actually get to the website where you can buy it. LTU Technologies (http://mobile.ltutech.com/) is promoting this technology and is already working with firms like Adidas.

Retailers are currently driving context-oriented applications that socialize only the most relevant selling points. Owing to the limited space available on mobile devices, retailers have no choice but to highlight only the most crucial content and consequently there is less clutter to deal with for the consumer and they can access the information they are looking for with fewer clicks. Therefore, the constraints of a mobile actually give more focus.

Again, retailers are making sure that the mobile consumer does not stick to one transaction, ensuring that there is a flow from one experience to another. With the mobile always on, there is opportunity to sell at all times. The consumer looking for a single product can always be given multiple options or related options. Promotions, discounts or references on the same page for unrelated products also can invite attention. But, it is imperative to estimate which content stays on the screen and what is to be eliminated ensuring that the information on the screen is concise and clear. There has to be connectivity in moving from one product to another and predictive capabilities are key to this. Clearly, retailers must ensure that they work with a domain expert when creating mobile shopping sites.

For a mobile consumer, every shopping screen is the same until and unless he finds that differentiating factor that motivates him to stay longer and becomes a customer. The onus is on the retailer to provide the right buying environment for the shopper and possibly try and ensure repeat purchases as well.

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