Infosys announced last week that Bharti Airtel, India’s leading mobile service provider, has selected its WalletEdge platform to operate Airtel Money, the first mobile wallet service in India. This announcement is interesting from a few different perspectives. First, it will provide a new source of revenues for the Indian telecom industry, which has been struggling with low ARPUs for several years. Second, it’s a boon for the banking industry, which will find a way to accelerate financial inclusion initiatives in line with the recommendations from the Reserve Bank of India. Obviously, the urban Indian consumer will also benefit from the “pay anytime, anywhere” convenience of such a service.
I also look at this deal from an IT services industry perspective, and I believe that it embeds a set of very interesting attributes that will become increasingly prevalent in the way IT services vendors engage with their clients moving forward:
A few days ago at Oracle OpenWorld 2011, I attended a presentation from one of the major consulting companies. The topic: banking in 2020. I heard about big data, the need for real-time analysis of information (in particular from the Internet), and a few other trends. While many of these trends were not new, I could only agree that they would be important in the future, as they align with Forrester’s 2008 research on what banking will look like in the future. (If you are interested in details regarding Forrester’s research on this topic, please see “Financial Services Of The Future: Collaborative Competition Will Be The Norm” and “Banking IT In 2023 Updated,” keeping in mind that 2023 is a metaphor for a longer-term perspective.) However, there was one statement within the presentation that I seriously disagree with.
Have you been sitting on the mobile commerce fence? Ready to make the jump? Good for you, but you may not be prepared for the maze of solutions and vendors at hand to help you implement your mCommerce strategy. The number of vendors and diversity of solutions in the market is quite staggering, and the search for the right solution may feel like shopping in a busy Moroccan market, with an overwhelming choice of wares and vendors bargaining hard for your dollars. Leaving with the right purchase is a daunting task.
However, before you rush into evaluating solutions and signing contracts, eBusiness professionals must take a step back and look at the different implementation paths open to them for mobile commerce. These are:
Using technology from your existing eCommerce platform vendor.
Outsourcing to your interactive agency or systems integration firm.
Building it all in-house.
Leveraging a mobile commerce point solution.
In my latest report, a market overview of mobile commerce solutions for retail, I look at 14 established mobile commerce point solutions that have particular strengths and a proven record of accomplishment in the retail sector. These vendors between them empower the mobile commerce sites and apps for an exhaustive list of who’s who in US and European retail. The report focuses on the respective strengths of the solutions with respect to the needs of retailers. The vendors we looked at were:
While all eyes in the online retail space seem to be on social networks and smartphones these days, we’re seeing an emerging trend with tablets that could be the most interesting of all. Only 9% of web shoppers now have tablet devices, but here’s the big deal — most of those people already own smartphones (as well as PCs, of course), and they are saying that they actually prefer to use their tablets for shopping. Not only that, but the ownership of the tablet device itself actually increases the amount of time that people spend online. And we’re anticipating a hockey stick in tablet adoption in the next five years on top of all that. You can read more about these findings in the report my colleague Sarah Rotman Epps and I just wrote titled, “Why Tablet Commerce May Trump Mobile Commerce,” which is based on findings from our joint research on online shoppers with Bizrate Insights. Some of the most compelling aspects that are helping to drive the shopping experience on the device:
The larger screen. Not surprising, given the choice between a smartphone and a tablet, consumers find it a lot easier to use the latter to surf the net, click on links, and type in the critical biodata to purchase something online, especially since PayPal Express doesn’t seem to be integrated onto most mobile commerce sites yet.
The portability. Consumers love taking their tablets around the house and on the go. The living room is the most common room where the tablet is used, but out of the home is also popular, particularly at restaurants and in airports.
For the past couple of months, we have been working on identifying best practices for application development and delivery teams executing on multichannel strategy. The related report will get published soon. We found that application development and delivery teams need to be successful in the magic triangle of delivering a multichannel solution: 1) tactically; 2) in a strategic way; and 3) fast.
Mobile apps are undoubtedly cool, and executives at leading online retailers have been mandating a presence of their brand in the Apple and Android app stores, but eBusiness professionals must focus on building a cohesive mobile strategy that clearly identifies the case and role for apps within their organizations. Apps are great ways to engage with your customers, but will they deliver incremental revenue above and beyond what the mobile Web is already doing? In her recent mobile commerce forecast, Sucharita Mulpuru explains that mobile commerce is set to transform retail, despite only accounting for 2% of online web sales today. In my new report The State Of Mobile Commerce Apps, I peel back the covers on the hype and take a serious look at why, when, and how eBusiness professionals should approach their mobile app strategy. Some of the issues I explore include:
The mobile web versus app debate. The debate is irrelevant, consumers are using both in equal measures; however, developing an app for apps' sake is missing the point and will only disappoint your customers. eBusiness professionals must develop unique app experiences that deliver multichannel innovations and raise the engagement of the consumer with your brand.
Keeping up with the explosion of consumer touchpoints. Having an iPhone app was the priority back in 2010, but in 2011 many eBusinesses are adding Android, iPad, and Windows Phone 7 apps. The opportunity for apps also extends beyond the consumer. Retailers are investing in apps for store associates empowered with mobile devices, in-store kiosks, and interactive TV.
After social commerce, mobile commerce is the most heavily debated topic-du-jour among retailers these days. One thing that both social and mobile commerce have in common is that they are both small. Teeny in fact. Forrester’s Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2011 To 2016, which launched today, shows that retailers can expect 2% of their online web sales (yes, I said web sales which means a minuscule percent of overall retail) to be transacted through mobile devices in 2011. While we also expect mobile commerce sales to grow 40% each year for the next five years, we’re still talking small numbers overall (7% of web sales penetration by 2016). Why so small you may ask. After all, aren’t smartphones changing the way we consume web content? Some things to consider:
Tablets. We don’t include tablet shopping in our definition of mobile shopping, but the creation (and subsequent explosion in sales) of this device is probably the single biggest inhibitor to the growth of “mobile commerce.” Data that we gathered with Bizrate Insights (to be released separately and soon) indicates that most tablet owners also own smartphones, and many of those people naturally prefer to shop on the device that has the larger screen when given the choice.
Shopping never leads web behavior. In any list of activities that people do on the Internet, shopping nearly always ranks below things like “reading news” or “using social networks.” Even those activities are not universal among the smartphone set, so it would be premature to expect that shopping would rank high on the list (which it, of course, doesn’t).
Google’s product strategists just announced the launch of Google Wallet — an NFC-based mobile payment solution. As my colleague Charlie Golvin pointed out, this is another early salvo in what will be a long and hard-fought battle to change consumers’ payment behavior and, as a potential result, the makeup of the payments landscape.
We have covered this issue in more detail in a new Forrester report “Google Wallet Is Not About Mobile Payments.” Clients can access the report here.
Given its core search business and ad-based revenue model, why would the company make that investment? Because Google’s product strategists’ focus is not on the payment itself; it’s on all of the other elements that comprise a commerce experience and the data that characterizes those elements.
Indeed, appending real-world purchase information to its treasure trove of online behavioral data will vastly increase the value of customers’ profiles and increase the rates Google can charge its advertisers. It will be a way for Google to increase its local presence. NFC is too often equated simply with payments, but Google understands that NFC tags have broad application (working like Quick Response [QR] and other 2D barcodes do today). Google can help retailers use NFC tags for in-store promotions and check-ins, augmenting the understanding of customer behavior for ad targeting.
In 2006, Forrester found that organizational structure, internal enterprise goal systems, and most urgent business requirements were key obstacles on many firms’ journey toward broad multichannel solutions with rich cross-channel capabilities. At that time, a few advanced firms tried to establish a multichannel organization, an organizational layer to coordinate multichannel requirements and solutions between the different business groups and the IT organization. Has this changed over the past five years?
Since the dawn of mobile commerce, retailers have dreamed of leveraging mobile phones to deliver an immersive multichannel experience for in-store shoppers. And finally the time seems right. With the uptake of smartphones, it has become much easier for both consumers and retailers to add mobile phones to the purchase process. Retailers have been busy developing mobile web versions of their online stores as well as dedicated mobile shopping applications for iPhone and Android phones.
But how many consumers are using their mobile phones for shopping-related activities? Our Technographics® research shows that about 6% of cell phone owners have used a shopping application. Dedicated shopping applications that allow consumers to research and purchase products directly from their phones, like the ones from Amazon.com or Domino's Pizza, drive uptake and usage.
It is tempting for retailers to use this technology solely for marketing purposes; however, organizations should focus on services that enhance the customer's multichannel experience. Balancing informative notifications with marketing offers will build trust with customers and lead to better acceptance, as well as higher uptake.