Want a new Ferrari this Christmas? Buy it with your smartphone


If you ever needed an example that 2011 is the year of mobile commerce, look no further than the two shoppers who recently bought a £70,000 Ferrari and a new home via eBay subsidiary PayPal’s mobile app on Cyber Monday, the peak day for online Christmas shopping in the US.   

And while your mobile shopping plans might not include buying yourself a car worth over 1oo,ooo dollars over your phone, you’ve probably already used your mobile device for more modest shopping-related  activities.

How many of you have used your smartphone to compare products and prices, search for discounts, take product pictures, or locate a retail store? I have (and do), and I’m definitely not alone.  

According to data research and analysis firm comScore, that’s exactly what two thirds of all smartphone owners did in September, and over a third  of smartphone owners have used their phone to make an actual  purchase at least once during their device ownership. 

All in all, it’s been an impressive year for mobile commerce. The 300 largest U.S. mobile merchants will generate $5.37 billion in sales through mobile devices this year, more than double 2010, according to a recent survey by Internet Retailer. So no great surprise then that the National Retail Federation predicts that more than half of smartphone owners  people plan to use their device to research products or make a purchase this holiday

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research predicts that Christmas UK mobile shoppers could total around £1.64bn this year “and that’s grown from close to zero last year.” And he thinks that by 2015, a quarter of online purchases will be made on mobiles

New research by British retail trade body IRMG has found that demand for mobile apps is on the rise and that 24% of UK consumers have used their smartphones to access apps while shopping. It also predicts that Christmas 2011 will be the year mobile shopping goes mainstream. 

That leaves the traditional “brick and mortar” retailers with only one choice – they need to find new ways to embrace mobile commerce if they don’t want to lose sales. 

According to Avi Greengart, research director, consumer devices, at Current Analysis, “The merchants that spend more upfront now will reap the benefits of m-commerce far faster” and some retailers have been quick to get on the mobile commerce train: in the UK, major retail chains as Argos, ASOS and Debenhams are incorporating mobile commerce into their business models by selling their products through mobile apps. And in the US, retailers like Toys R Us, JC Penney, Lowes, and Best Buy have adopted a variety of innovative mobile commerce ideas such as giving store reps mobile phones to help shoppers instantly compare prices and match them when necessary. 

And where does mobile commerce leave the service providers?

“Mobile Commerce refers to any transaction or shopping experience conducted over the mobile device,” comments Oded Israeli, Director of Product Management and Marketing for Amdocs Mobile Payments. “Operators usually see these transactions going over-the-top, as they only provide the connectivity for regular card transactions. However, when it comes to digital goods and other small-amount impulse purchases like mobile parking, carriers often play a larger role, providing the funds for the transaction through the postpaid bill or prepaid balance. And while buying a Ferrari over carrier billing isn’t that realistic due to bill shock and regulatory reasons, we do see carrier billing growing as the preferred purchase method for consumers in the digital and virtual spaces.”

So if you find yourself short on time (and still short on gifts) this holiday season, your smartphone might very well hold the answer. 


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