Mobile commerce now a top priority for retailers

Given the newfound enthusiasm for NFC and mobile payments among European mobile operators, it must be reassuring to this community that major retailers are also giving the technology a high priority.

With the majority of these retailers experiencing flat or declining revenues, expanding their online sales by adding a mobile component is becoming a critical aspect for growth.

Evidence of this shift to enabling m-commerce comes from a recent Martec International study. This research across the top 100 UK retailers found that, for the first time ever, retailers have positioned e-commerce and m-commerce as the top priority for IT investment.

The IT investment in this new business channel will, according Martec, rise from 17 per cent of total retailer investment in 2010 to 23 per cent in 2011. The study also found that 16 per cent of the retailers already use m-commerce, up from 5 per cent last year, with a further 12 percent planning to adopt the technology.

Of note, in-store systems have been the top IT investment priority for the last nine years.

With operators struggling to find fresh revenue streams, they could find natural and willing partners from within the major retail chains. Both communities are under threat, albeit from different sectors, and have largely stagnant revenues and saturated markets.

While m-commerce could bring benefit to both groups, there is the danger of over-inflated egos colliding with each other.

The larger mobile operators have demonstrated their blinkered approach to partnering for many years, and this unfortunate characteristic seems to be prevalent among the larger retail chains keen to grab the smallest percentage of profit margin from every possible avenue.

But the current harsh economic business climate will either force these two groups to work together, or fight each other to a standstill over who controls the channel and what share of the revenues comes their way.--Paul