SOS – Support Our Stores

This week, I’ll be speaking at the Guardian’s Mobile Business Summit, which has an excellent line up, as you would expect. If you’re going to be there, please come and say Hi.

My session is about mCommerce – no surprises there. But I think we often lose sight of what mCommerce is as it embraces two areas of retail sales, one of which is much more unique to mobile. mCommerce is:

1. Like eCommerce (or PC-based commerce) but on mobile. So you buy stuff from Amazon or ASOS, or from more traditional retailers like Tesco or M&S, both of whom have thriving online businesses, and the stuff gets delivered to you shortly afterwards.

2. Mobile enabled commerce. This is where you use the mobile to enhance shopping in physical stores. So, you might allow people to use their mobiles to compare prices, navigate the store, get more product information or watch video on their mobile. Or in my frame of reference these days, you might give them a coupon that can be digitally redeemed to drive purchases in shops.

The first area is much more easily understood and gets most attention. However, if you are a multi-channel retailer, the second part is much more important. Why? Because 90%+ or more of your sales are going to be via your stores.

This might sound a little surprising as whenever reports are written about this kind of area, the emphasis is on the triumph of online, the double digit growth of eCommerce or mCommerce and how physical stores are on their last legs. The reality is very different. Sure, online is a great big fat success story. But it’s still dwarfed by old fashioned people-going-shopping. Forrester, for example, claims that just 8% of shopping is done online today.

If you’re a retailer, you obviously know this – you’ll have your own stats to refer to. So while it’s clearly important that you look at mobile to sell your goods and services online, the bigger potential leverage point is to use mobile to support the store sales.

We’ll be seeing a whole lot more of these types of mobile-enabled commerce initiatives and perhaps it’s time we had a name for it to distinguish it from classic mCommerce. sCommerce (for store-based commerce) perhaps. If you have an idea for it, leave a comment and I’ll launch it at The Guardian, naturally giving you full credit!

But in the meantime, note that the world is going to change again for retailing, just as everyone thought they were getting the hang of it.

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