Chris Minas, founder, Nimbletank
Chris Minas, founder, Nimbletank
A view from Chris Minas

Think BR: M-commerce - a big opportunity for brands

The UK's shopping habits are changing dramatically and brands need to adjust their offerings in order to reflect this, writes Chris Minas, founder, Nimbletank.

M-Commerce is a strange phenomenon. Talk of the technology has been around for years and consumers have been embracing it more recently while newer technology solutions have emerged to make purchasing easier.

In Western Europe alone spending via mobile is set to increase eleven-fold to €19.2 billion by 2012, yet only a handful of brands - such as eBay and Amazon - are really taking advantage of the exciting opportunities technology can provide.

As this is a trend that is set to continue, are brands who are not embracing the channel seriously missing a trick?

The ability to access the internet via mobile devices has changed many aspects of our lives over recent years, particularly the ease at which we communicate with one another, consume media and shop.

In fact, the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Index predicts that by Christmas 2012, 30% of the total number of site visits made across the internet will be done through a mobile or smartphone.

For many people it has become their main access point. Ignoring the platform now seems like sales suicide.

If we compare the UK ecommerce sales figure from 2010 to the present day, the percentage of sales made via mobile has rocketed 2,900% from 0.4% to 11.6%.

This is a significant shift. Habits of UK shoppers are changing dramatically and brands need to adjust their offerings in order to reflect this. 

Online and mobile shopping has driven an expectation for improved customer service and delivery. 

We’re seeing the emergence of SoLoMo (social, local and mobile) implemented by brands that integrate new technologies combined with new rapid local delivery services for customers, all of whom expect locally optimised content and services based on where they are.

For example, deliveries can be made within 90 minutes from an order wherever the customer is located while customers can track their delivery via maps on their device. Ultimately this results in loyal and repeat customers.

But that’s not so say that all brands have jumped on the bandwagon yet. A study by New York research firm L2 highlighted that within a ranking of the 100 most well-recognized fashion, beauty, hospitality, watch and jewellery, and retail brands, only two thirds had mobile-optimised sites.

Yet, a full third of those don’t allow consumers to shop from those sites. It is astounding that these brands appear to have little interest in tapping into the huge potential that m-commerce could provide.

Those brands with online roots are championing mobile payments and driving the movement forward. PayPal, one of the most important providers of online payment technology, has historically been limited to an online only business model.

However, in May 2012 the company introduced the concept of digital money to the high street with a launch in fashion retailers Oasis. Shoppers are now able to pay in-store online.

With this kind of innovative approach, PayPal estimates that it will have handled £10 billion of mobile payments in 2012.

eBay too is beginning to take advantage of the opportunities possible through m-commerce and forecasts that this move will generate in £2.4bn sales in the UK alone.

Much as plastic once replaced paper payments, phones will inevitably usurp plastic, offering consumers a much improved level of convenience.

The easier it is to make a payment, the more likely it is people are going to spend money. When m-commerce was in its infancy, the device user interfaces were fiddly and slow, which would unsurprisingly deter many people and prevent many a sale.

This barrier is no longer necessary and if brands commit to investing more in this technology they stand to make a lot of money.

Traditional high street brands risk losing out if they do not follow the lead of their online counterparts. Smartphone use is on the up and will continue to rise as it continues to make the lives of consumers increasingly easier.

The brands who consider the opportunities available thoroughly now will be pioneers of the future, as well as make a lot more money.

Chris Minas, founder, Nimbletank