What is eCommerce?
eCommerce in general refers to buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems. You choose your product or service, pay for it using your payment instrument (credit card, bank account, debit card or give an assurance that you will pay cash at the time of delivery), and after a few days, the smartly packed new products arrive at your door.
What is mCommerce?
mCommerce is in principle similar to ecommerce, but the activity of initiating a commercial transactions is over a mobile device. The Apple App Store & ngpay are the good examples of the two popular streams of mcommerce. While in the previous stream, the products offered by App Stores are generally delivered (downloaded) and consumed over the mobile phone, in the later products or services delivered are consumed elsewhere (e.g. Service of air ticket bought over mobile phone can be consumed at the airport).
Many confuse mCommerce with mPayments. mPayment is a convenient way to pay using your mobile phone for online or retail transactions if your mobile phone is linked to your payment instrument. Here mobile phone acts as a pseudo payment instrument but the charge is on is on the bank account or credit card.
mCommerce in India
Indian retail market has experienced high growth over the last decade with a gradual shift towards modern retailing formats. With growing numbers of mobile devices and mammoth wireless subscriber base (over 900 million), the focus is slowly shifting to mcommerce. Although mCommerce in India is in a nascent stage, but is moving in the right direction. Currently, Mobile Assisted Commerce (MAC) is very popular in India. Indians being bargain hunters use their mobile phones for price comparison at the retail store before making an actual purchase. Considering the popularity of MAC, popularity and reach of MVAS (caller-tune, ring tone downloads), growth in mPayment and mBanking over the last few years, reduction in price & increase in the use of smart phones & tablets, initiatives taken by the government and financial organizations to reach India’s un-banked population, I am confident that the mCommerce is poised for greater adoption across India, in the years to come. The market is virgin and is the right time to be ready with your mCommerce platform to reap the actual benefit of online commerce in India.
How do you make sure you’re ready for mCommerce?
If you have an eCommerce site, the chances are that it will be usable on smart phones like the iPhone, but it’s also likely that the experience won’t be that great. A better solution would be to have an optimized version of the website for mobile devices. You can still use your product database and images but it’s a good idea to detect what platform your users are on and if it’s a mobile device, offer the following usability enhancements: 1) simplified and thinner version of the website to fit the smaller screen; 2) Pre-populated data where possible to mimimize typing; 3) Cut down graphics to increase speed (product images and website design elements; 4) More concise text to increase readability; 5) Allow users to enter OTP passwords instead of 3D secure passwords while making payment.
Alternatively, you have to build a series of applications; each customized for a specific mobile platform and integrated it with the product database. To reach to a substantial user base, presence on Apple, Android, Windows, Blackberry & Symbian platform is a must. This approach requires huge investment and a dedicated team to build and managing the channel. A more convenient and prudent approach would be to host your offering on an existing mcommerce platform like ngpay. One tie-up will allow you to be present on all the platforms and access to the existing user base.