Mobile E-Commerce is Here to Stay

People will buy via mobile, just like they are buying on the Web

My first real experience with e-commerce was back in 1999, when I was part of a team that launched one of the first online retail luxury websites. Back then, people thought we were crazy. When we approached some of the leading luxury brands, their typical initial reactions included:

  • “People aren’t going to buy online. They prefer the experience of shopping in a store.”
  • “It’s not safe to give your credit card number online. You are going to get ripped off.”
  • “Maybe people will buy CDs or books online, but they are not going to buy anything expensive.”
  • “It is too expensive to build and maintain a quality e-commerce website.”


Many of these retailers made the decision that the internet was not for them. They saw online shopping as a fad that would never take off. They also believed that being on the Internet would damage or cheapen their brands.

We all know how this story ends.

Online sales went from$27.5 billion in 2000 to $143.4 billion in 2009. While retail sales have declined during the current economic downturn, e-commerce continues to enjoy double-digit growth.

Companies that hesitated to engage in e-commerce quickly found themselves at a heavy competitive disadvantage. Today, virtually every major brand is online, and online sales account for a substantial percentage of all retail sales.

Deja vu all over again

Flash forward to 2010 and I’m hearing all of the same arguments. This time, though, the subject is mobile e-commerce.

Many retailers remain skeptical and have, thus far, chosen not get into mobile e-commerce. The most common worries that companies have about branching out into mobile e-commerce are:

  • Scale: How difficult is it to build and manage multiple, device-specific apps?
  • Submission and support: How difficult is it to get Apple or other providers to approve the store’s app and to modify that app?
  • Cost: How expensive is it to build, integrate and maintain the e-commerce app?

They also fear that customers won’t be comfortable using their mobile devices to make purchases, and that the mobile storefront won’t be as easy to use as the company’s traditional website.

The good news

A number of companies are developing software platforms that will make the process of developing, launching and maintaining mobile e-commerce apps both relatively simple and remarkably cost-efficient.

Last month, for example, Magento had the public launch of its mobile e-commerce platform, MagentoMobile. Currently, the MagentoMobile platform works only with iPhone, but the company promises full integration with iPad, Smart Phones and other mobile devices within a year. And, of course, Yahoo!’s no slouch in the mobile data and mobile shopping arenas, either.  

Mobile is the future—or a big part of the future—of e-commerce

Where iPhones, Smart Phones and iPads were once considered to be a luxury or contraptions only used by tech geeks, they are gaining in popularity at almost an alarming rate. In the United States alone, there are more than 100 million smart phones and iPhones in use.

The latest research shows that this is just the beginning.

Read more on the Yahoo! Advertising blog

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