Although mobile commerce continues to account for just a small portion of the overall retail industry, the technology is growing up right before our eyes, according to a recent report from U.K. retail research firm Verdict. Among other areas, the trend could affect how retailers approach supply chain management.
Mobile commerce has matured during the past several years with the rise of smartphones around the world. So it's not surprising that the success of the former is directly tied to the continuing enthusiasm for mobile devices.
With smartphones and tablets, consumers can enjoy a level of access to retail information that was never before possible. With such purchasing power in the hands of mobile users, companies will have to ensure their manufacturing processes are as efficient as possible with quality as a top priority, according to experts.
According to Verdict's research, mobile commerce is practiced by 2.1 percent of adult mobile users. In 2009, the firm stated, retail sales through mobile devices totaled $188.7 million. That was just 0.6 percent of overall online sales, according to the report. However, mobile commerce sales are expected to more than double during the next year and a half.
In the meantime, the report said, mobile devices will serve as a means for consumers to research products. Many mobile users have shown a willingness to compare product pricing, specifications and information, according to researchers.
"For now, we believe the true potential for m-commerce is to provide consumers with a valuable tool for research, comparison shopping and retailer interaction," Malcolm Pinkerton, senior analyst at Verdict, told news provider Computing.
Researchers also said mobile should be a key component for multichannel commerce retailers.
"The opportunities are there for the most proficient multichannel retailers to claim a share of the growing cross-channel expenditure by exploiting the possibilities provided by mobiles to seamlessly link the online and in-store environments," senior retail technology analyst Christine Bardwell of research firm Ovum told Computing.
The continued growth of the smartphone market was reflected in a recent report by ABI Research. The firm predicted that unit sales will double by 2015 to make smartphones the largest segment of the mobile phone market. To this point, less feature-rich cell phones have held the top spot, according to the report.
A separate report from IHS iSuppli said that smartphone units could surpass 1 billion in 2015.