There have long been the promise that the mobile phone will become your wallet - finally enabling you to point it at a pop machine and purchase that tasty carbonated treat. But the reality is your going to have to fish in your pockets for spare change - that form of mCommerce is a long way from mainstream.
Although the technology exists and some banks are wireless providers are piloting this lovely technology, sadly your phone will not become your wallet anytime soon. But really, who even needs this on a mass scale - when was the last time you tried to buy something and didn't have a credit card, debit card or even cash to do so.
So where does that leave the world of mCommerce? The real question is how are marketers using mobile to drive commerce.
2009 will be the year that marketers finally realize that the mobile can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool - in particular for the retailers who want to drive store traffic. Recessions have a wonderful effect of forcing marketers to try new strategies and tactics to drive sales. And mobile marketing firms want to demonstrate the opportunity the channel creates, opening the door to alternative results based compensation structures.
Lots of retailers are already experimenting. Jack in the Box launched a mobile couponing campaign - deploying coupons at different day parts, as well as a variety of different offers to gauge what works in the best in mobile space to generate response. And in an interesting move, the agency Mobile Posse guaranteed double digit results or the campaign was free. H&M also launched a fully integrated program, creating a branded experience with their products to drive loyalty and retetion.
Microsoft announced the launch of their Tag product, which essentially creates interactivity on anything that has their mobile 'tag'.
Consumers install the application on their phone, then simply take a picture of the tag and more information is delivered via the web. Now this product is not anything new - QR codes and Datamatrix codes have existed for years, along with the old standard of SMS shortcodes.
The thing marketers should take note of is that they are missing a massive opportunity to create interactivity - the much sought after 1:1 relationship. The fact that marketers rely on consumers to remember a URL, 800# or key search term until they can access the web, is utterly ridiculous.
Marketers should try to continue the conversation -whether it is delivering and additional branded experience or a coupon - they can add value to a consumer's day and try to use every moment to bring that person closer to purchase. The opportunity exists, but very few are taking advantage of it. Mobile is simply another tool in the marketers warchest and it should be leveraged against virtually all strategies.
2009 won't be the year of mCommerce. But it will be the year of mMarketing - amongst the smart marketers who want to drive transaction.