It has been hyped for years – wireless commerce and the ability to make purchases from a cell phone or mobile device. However, wireless commerce still hasn’t hit full stride in the US and probably won’t have wide scale support and adoption for several years. The technology divide exists where the next generation of technology meets deployment challenges and delays. Carriers and device manufacturers cannot agree on standards. And the biggest challenge that remains: waiting for the industry to accept wireless commerce and let it have its own space to breath in the mobile ecosystem.
Over the last decade, text messaging services and mobile internet has quickly taken hold in the US. As of June 2008, the CTIA reports that in the US, over 75 Billion text messages are sent and received every month. To put that into perspective, in June 2000, the number of text messages was just 12 million (not billion). How and why did mobile messaging kick into full gear? Wireless carriers opened their networks to inter-carrier messaging that transmits messages between mobile communications networks regardless of technologies involved (CDMA, GSM, iDen, or TDMA). This has lead to mass adoption to text messaging and opened the door for mobile marketing.
Advertisers, retailers and other service businesses have jumped on board to take advantage of mobile marketing. Mobile marketing can enhance customer loyalty and reduce churn and as it becomes a popular and sustainable revenue-generating medium, will also force the carriers to take notice.
The complete mobile ecosystem includes network operators, advertisers, technology and solutions providers, service providers and consumers who all stand to benefit from wireless commerce. To apply wireless commerce to everyday life, companies are quickly developing new mobile commerce applications. These applications and services are prepared to give a significant boost to the adoption of wireless commerce across the mobile ecosystem. Some of these applications include:
Wireless Commerce Applications
Mobile banking & Financial Service
Mobile financial information
Download of music and ring tones
Download of videos and digital images
Location-based entertainment services
Mobile information services
Current affairs (financial, sport and other news)
Tracking services (persons and objects)
Mobile search engines and directories Mobile office
Mobile marketing -? Mobile couponing
Direct (context-sensitive) marketing
Organization of mobile events
Mobile purchasing of goods and services
Sports and cultural events
Air and rail traffic
These mobile commerce applications are currently in use by retailers, banks and other companies. Other wireless commerce applications are being tested throughout several markets in the US. Having a mobile commerce application is only half the challenge. Many wireless carriers require approval for some types of m-commerce while others have to approve each campaign running across their network or promoted in their storefront. These new campaigns and applications often require certification and testing prior to acceptance.
Quality of service and ease of use are often considered part of a carrier review. According to Telephia, 22 percent of consumers who encounter a “quality of service” problem when making a purchase give up on the purchase. They also tend to register their complaint with the retailer or their wireless carrier. However, all is not lost. Those who can’t finish the order process often complete their purchase in store or online and 17 percent stated they would try again later.
“We have found that user testing and quality of service improvements are critical if we expect to foster development of wireless commerce as a sustainable and formable business model,” noted David Geipel, President of US-based QWASI, Inc. “Companies have to create a user experience for wireless commerce and m-commerce that supports industry growth.”
The future of wireless commerce and m-commerce depends on a number of players in the mobile ecosystem to be creative and innovative. A solid, replicatible customer experience is vital to growing m-commerce throughout the next decade. As more retailers and companies dip their toe into the water, one thing is sure: the outlook for wireless commerce is bright.
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