CIOTechOutlook >> Magazine >> May - 2014 issue

Mobile Technology: Revolutionizing e-commerce


Headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States, Kellton Tech Solutions Limited (BSE:519602), a global IT company, provides IT outsourcing, consulting and product development services in web, ERP, mobile, security and cloud space. Incorporated in 1993, the company sales are about to hit an annualized run rate of Rs 200 crores.

Since the arrival of smartphones, mobile technology has strengthened its roots, irrespective of industry verticals. Mobility has been one of the most prevailing innovations of recent times. E-commerce, in particular, has benefitted massively by integrating mobile technology in its system. This modification in the channel of commerce has helped coin a new term called ‘mobile commerce’ or ‘m-commerce’.

Excessive use of smartphones along with a greater access to internet has given a brand new approach to the retail sector, one that has also eased the lives of shoppers. Shopping, till a few years back, would mean going all the way to the retail stores to buy an item without much scope for price comparison. On the contrary, we often carry such stores in our pockets these days in the form of apps that rest in our smart gadgets. A single touch opens up a window where one can find countless items to choose from, all this from the comfort of their homes. Moreover, there is a greater scope for comparing prices among different stores before making the final purchase.

According to a recent Forrester report, global m-commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016. In India, e-commerce has seen exceptional growth in the last five years and the projected fee-based revenue from mobile commerce could exceed $4.5 billion by 2015. This swift growth has been possible because of cheaper smartphones and better internet connectivity and accessibility. MakeMyTrip and PVR Cinemas were some of the earliest adopters of mobile technology in India. Today, almost all major online stores like Jabong, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Yebhi, etc. have launched their own mobile apps. There was a time when it was hard to imagine that people would ever dare to buy clothes online, without trying them. But an array of intuitive mobile apps with advanced magnified viewing features has made the buying experience easy and convenient. This radical change in purchases through mobile medium implies that the inflection point for mobile commerce in India has been attained. With almost all e-commerce companies investing heavily in advertising for their mobile apps through various media channels, there is a clear indication that e-commerce transactions, and not just page views, from mobile apps is increasing and has already covered a greater percentage of their total revenue.

Key technologies that are impacting e-commerce industry
There are some parallel technological progressions that have resulted in mobility being used immensely for the purpose of e-commerce. Here are some of the key technologies that we feel have applied a humungous thrust in m-commerce:

1. Mobile applications: As already discussed, mobile apps have been the dominant factor in revolutionizing e-commerce in India and across the world. From buying clothes to traveling, from booking movie tickets to ordering food, there is an app out there for almost all of your needs. These apps have virtually brought shopping malls and stores right into your pockets and have hence personalized the entire shopping experience. This is also a path breaking innovation related to e-commerce because these apps act as a channel of communication between the company and its consumers, helping the companies to know their target audience better. Many of these apps are powered by augmented reality, which is another sizzling phenomenon today. It simply augments or does enhancements to your real time environment to boost the user experience.

2. Push notifications: These are the constant notifications that we receive once we download an app in our mobile phones. Such notifications play on our impulse as they prompt us repeatedly about some exclusive deal or flash sale that has been going on. As a result, they often lead to impulsive buys and in turn propel m-commerce.

3. Location based services: This technology has enabled brands and companies to reach consumers according to their proximity to the products or stores, and has thus bolstered e-commerce through mobiles. This is where big data and near real time analytics come into play, which help in generating personalized recommendations for purchasing decisions according to an individual’s shopping history, social media likes and dislikes, etc.

4. Social sharing: Social media generates a lot of interaction and sharing of commonalities online. Today each one of us has an account in some social media channel. We all have a social presence and are connected to many more who have the same. We like, share and recommend stuff online. Thus, social media has opened up a significant platform for reference before buying things online.

5. Mobile wallets: Mobile payment was a point of concern in m-commerce for long. Though online payments sped up the entire payment process by eliminating physical checkouts but they increased the chances of fraudulent practices. To deal with this problem, mobile payments involved a number of tedious steps during which the customers had to wait patiently to feed in their credit card data. But with mobile wallets, one can save all their financial data at a place and use them accordingly. The best part about mobile wallets is that they are absolutely safe and secure.

It is evident that mobile technology has proved to be a boon for the standard retail sector. It has not only revamped online shopping but has also been a prominent tool for generating revenue. Going by the current scenario, we believe that m-commerce is certainly a growing industry in India and one that is here to stay.