Blog Post

E-tailing Meets mCommerce

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

For those of you helping make eBay on of the most frequently visited web sites on mobile phones, the news that retailers need to pay attention to mobile shopping should come as no surprise. I haven’t actually purchased anything from a retailer from my mobile, but according to a survey out today from Cisco, I will soon.

While less than half of online retailers currently have a mobile optimized site and only 15 percent allow folks to purchase things using their mobile, Cisco points out that there are more mobile Internet users than those sitting at a desktop. Additionally, Gen Y is already using phones (especially those with intuitive user interfaces) to buy gifts, download movies and even bid on auctions.

Startups such as Digby, Unwired Buyer and mPoria are taking advantage of this and Cisco says retailers of all stripes should follow suit. Personally, I’d like better mobile e-tailing sites, if for no other reason that to be able to check what Amazon is charging for an item when I’m in a bricks-and-mortar store.

11 Responses to “E-tailing Meets mCommerce”

  1. Brian,

    I think you are right. However, there are evolutionary
    steps to be taken.

    If you can use the portability of mobile computing and
    converge it with existing technologies such as barcoding,
    then the mobile user becomes empowered with more and
    relevant information to their circumstance. That is why
    I think is perfectly placed for today’s
    mobile user.

    Additionally, usage will create a behavior change in the
    mobile user. They can use that information to purchase
    through traditional methods.

    Users trust their mobile computers for information while
    trusting the instore merchant withthe commercial transaction.

    This will change and there are many amazing mobile
    applications which we are working on as the users become more
    accustomed to mCommerce transactions. The key is to
    be present and positive about the inevitability of mCommerce.

    Ted B

  2. mCommerce isn’t rocket science. It simply means consumers are surfing retail sites & “checking-out” using the browser on their phone rather than the browser on their PC. Why aren’t we seeing more mobile purchases today if it’s really that easy? Anyone ever try browsing the web from your mobile phone? The iPhone has definitely made web browsing a more pleasurable & possible experience but there are still some key components missing.

    1. Not enough retailers have developed mobile versions of their website. You can’t expect consumers to make purchases using an interface that was developed for a monitor with a minimum resolution of 800×600.

    2. The Internet speeds for most mobile phones are horrible.

    Combine slow Internet speeds with a clunky UI that was designed for a computer monitor & no wonder why we aren’t seeing better numbers.

    So what to do?

    Retailers need both a classic website & a mobile website. Internet speeds for phones have got to improve. For what the carriers are charging for data plans they have better improve!

    I suppose a number of people may include security as a hurdle we’ve got to overcome. I don’t buy it. An Internet purchase through a browser on your phone or a browser on your PC is no different when considering security.

    Where I really think this market is going to shift is using your mobile phone as your credit card. I want to see, & I believe it isn’t to far off in the future when we will all use our mobile phone for making both Internet purchases & Point of Sale (POS) purchases. If I could ditch my credit cards today in place of using my mobile phone I’d do it in a heartbeat. The major hurdles here include the availability of Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities both on the mobile device & at the POS. There are mobile payment pilots using NFC underway today & it’s this type of efficient & non-clunky approach that we will all eventually go to.

  3. We have developed and launched a mobile search tool called There is a great NBC news piece that explains it in less than 2 minutes. is a barcode driven mobile search tool that allows you to use a products barcode to check names and prices of over 17 million US products 50 thousand brands from over 1200 stores. We have over 40 millions other live product codes for other national markets and will be launching them shortly.

    The idea is the convergence of low online prices with the touch, see, feel, experience of being in (any) store: The ability to comparison shop from your mobile telephone with an easy method of accessing realtime data and is quite different than other mobile CSEs. Barcle is free to use, and there is nothing to join.

    Ted Baltuch
    [email protected]

  4. Check out It is doing real sales, and lets you buy from Wal-Mart, Target, BestBuy, HomeDepot, the Gap, and a hundred other vendors. And, notwithstanding what Will said above, you don’t pay the carriers a penny. Live demo at the site:

  5. The problem with mcommerce is that noone wants to pay the carriers 50% of each sale. Until Android takes off (or the cell phone carriers get reasonable about what’s a fair cut), you’re not going to see anyone transacting any real goods.

  6. Stacey Higginbotham

    Brian, much of the survey was about online retail as a whole. The data there facts such as online retailing in the U.S. was up 21 percent year-over-year to $175 billion in 2007. However, I thought GigaOM readers might like to know what Cisco found as to the state of mobile retail readiness despite the fact that there was no data on the number of mobile transactions. If only 15% of sites allow mobile transactions, my guess is the amount of sales are quite small.

  7. Notice that Cisco didn’t include any data about the number of transactions taking place through mobile. Just a puff piece by them saying big market opportunity coming at some point.

    I have no doubt that there is a tremendous opportunity in mcommerce, but are consumers (in the US!) actually transacting through their cell phones for more than just downloadable ringtones and songs right now? Show me that data, please. I assume that the iPhone spurred some sales as consumers now have a ‘true’ web experience on their phone, and therefore % growth in mobile transactions increased a good deal, but I’d assume that overall sales are close to nothing.