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M-commerce barriers starting to fall down

Analyst advises retailers to ensure they fully understand how consumers will use their mobiles to shop as tech barriers fall, but consumer challenges remain.

The technical barriers to retailers' embracing m-commerce are coming down, but consumer challenges are still lingering, according to Gartner.

Enhanced mobile device form factors and faster data speeds will both provide a boost for m-commerce channel consideration and action in the next year or two, but both retailers and vendors alike need to carefully take stock of just how far consumers will go in terms of using their phones to buy things, the analyst warned.

"Focusing solely on driving m-commerce revenue will not deliver what customers are really looking for when using their mobile phones during the shopping process," said Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner.

"Retailers developing a B2C mobile phone strategy must enable a multi channel shopping process as well as driving m-commerce revenue."

Prime m-commerce activities such as checking prices and locating stores will be catered for by portals and price comparison engines, according to LeHong, meaning retailers must ensure their eyes are open to the options available to work with these others types of service provider.

Backing up its statement that barriers are coming down but challenges are still evident, Gartner recently carried out a study of more than 2,000 consumers in the UK and US. The primary aim was to assess how likely they were to engage in particular m-commerce activities.

The research discovered that consumers are still more likely to scout around for deals rather than making purchases using their mobiles, with 18 per cent of UK respondents engaged in the former and just 11 per cent in the latter activity.

Indeed, checking prices and locating stores were two of the highest rated activities to be carried out on a mobile phone for both UK and US consumers.

Less than one fifth (16 per cent) of UK respondents are happy to received promotional material via their mobiles, compared to 20 per cent in the US. Younger consumers seem to be bigger fans of mobile commerce in general, with age being linked closely to the likelihood of the person using mobile phones to engage in retail therapy.

Such digital native respondents aged between 18 and 27 were, on average, 1.98 times more likely to buy-in to m-commerce than those aged 43-61, while UK figures for the same age groups showed the younger (18 - 27 year-olds) were, on average, 2.63 times more likely to shop using their mobiles than the boomer generation.

"M-commerce technology vendors should differentiate themselves by providing multi channel capabilities, such as enabling mobile-phone-generated orders to be picked up in a store or allowing consumers to save mobile-phone-created shopping sessions to be later continued on a web browser," LeHong concluded.

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