Part I/II – m-commerce strategies for retailers – m-commerce backgrounder

October 27, 2009

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

This is part I of a II part series that I call ‘m-commerce strategies for retailers’.  The two parts are:

  • Part I –  m-commerce backgrounder
  • Part II – Next gen m-commerce CSEs

At this year and in many other conversations with retailers, m-commerce has become a hot topic.  The success of the iPhone and it’s application platform have capture the minds of consumers and retailers a-like.  Google’s Android system is nascent, but with a slew of new manufacturers and networks coming on board, set to be a solid challenger to the iPhone.  Thus there will be a world with three + smartphone platforms out there:

  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Windows Mobile
  • Misc

Smartphones are real and will surpass PC-web usage sooner than you think

Most retailers agree that we have some great platforms out there and more coming, but many still aren’t doing anything about an m-commerce strategy.  There have recently been several interesting reports suggesting that by 2011, smartphone sales will outpace PCs.  Now PCs have a huge installed base so just because those lines cross doesn’t mean that we’ll suddenly see Smartphone traffic dwarf PC-web, but it is an important datapoint that should be a wake up call to retailers.  This figure shows the trend as reported by RBC:


At, John Donahoe revealed that eBay has enjoyed over $380m in GMV from m-commerce.

Morgan Stanley put together this chart which shows the growth of the iPhone plotted against other adoption curves such as desktop internet.

Hopefully, these metrics and charts have your attention and have you thinking about your m-commerce strategy.

What’s your m-commerce strategy?

To-date, most of the retailers I have talked to have thought about m-commerce in one or two ways:

  • m-commerce optimised website – You optimise your site using transcoding or browser detection to make sure that your ecommerce site works well with smartphone browsers.  This is a medium sized effort and as the smartphone browsers have gotten better, less work is actually required.
  • m-commerce application (usually iPhone) – Some retailers have deployed free native applications that tap into the hardware to add features and create a richer ‘native’ experience vs. the ‘browser-based’ experience.

That concludes part I.  In part II we’ll dig into what m-commerce means for CSEs and what CSEs mean for m-commerce.  There is an exciting new type of m-commerce CSE on the scene that we’ll demonstrate that gives you a third opportunity to take advantage of this rapidly growing opportunity.

Seeking Alpha disclosure – I am long Amazon and Google.  eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.