Mobile Commerce Hitting the Mainstream

mobilecommerce_wp.jpgThe Washington Post reports that for years, mobile commerce has been hyped as the future of retail, even as American consumers have been slow to accept it. But at last week’s IBM’s National Retail Federation conference, the retail industry “attempted to show it is ready to dive headfirst into a wireless world.”

Over the past few years, retail outlets have used text messaging campaigns to notify subscribers of sales and other promotions. But now retailers are experimenting with other methods, such as wireless virtual coupons distributed by vendors such as Cellfire, that give from 5 to 15 percent off at various restaurants, retail stores, and for entertainment events.

Some interesting statistics: “A recent survey by Deloitte found 61 percent of consumers were interested in a service that would allow them to scan a product’s barcode in a store and receive other retailers’ lower price for the same product,” the article said. “Fifty-seven percent said they would want to receive a coupon on their phone, and 19 percent said they would be open to receiving a video or text message about a sale from a store as they passed by.”

While consumers by and large are interested in the new technology, they’re also very guarded about giving out their cell phone numbers, the article reported. “A mobile device is like, ‘I’ll lend you my tooth brush.’ It’s very personal,” said Fred Balboni, global retail industry leader at IBM. “Mobile devices are one of those last barriers.”

Mobile Commerce Slowly Taking Hold Among Retailers [WP]