Is M-Commerce a Necessity for Retailers in 2012?

Within the last few years, an increase of consumer smartphone use has prompted retailers to launch mobile shopping platforms.

Craig Shields, vice president of e-commerce at JTV, believes mobile platforms provide a more convenient shopping experience. “As a jewelry television retailer, we consider mobile devices to be the ‘second screen,’” says Shields. “Our shopper is able to see the jewelry on television, and then quickly make a purchase on his or her cellphone. Mobile devices are even more convenient than laptops.”

Launched in 2010, JTV’s mobile commerce app currently accounts for 11 percent of total online sales.

CTS Retail, a retail software and services provider, has recorded an increasing number of retailers looking into mobile commerce.

Scott Storey, managing director of CTS Retail, believes that a mobile platform is no longer just a supplement for e-commerce, but rather a necessity for retailers. “The market is no nearer to stabilizing and as a result retailers really need to be exploring ways to engage with consumers and boost sales across a range of platforms,” he said in a statement.

Yet despite of smartphone trends, many retailers are still hesitant to invest in this new technology. “Every one of our customers is concerned about spending and that is totally understandable in the current climate,” Storey added.

High costs—as well as the advantages of tactile shopping—prevent some brick-and-mortar stores from venturing into the mobile sphere. “Whereas I do think it’s important for the modern retailer to embrace all channels of technology, I’m not convinced that m-commerce will necessarily make or break your business,” says Lindsay Daunell, co-owner of D&H Sustainable Jewelers in San Francisco. “Sure, the young tech-savvy generation is notorious for shopping online, but you also have to consider the fact that these young shoppers are often new to the jewelry retail environment. Being able to touch and feel a piece of jewelry, as well as ask questions, are valuable parts of their shopping experience.”

In order to retain the benefits of in-person shopping, some jewelers opt for the use of online or mobile apps that allow the consumer to view products without purchasing them. “We match up the feel of our online presence with the experience of in-store shopping,” says Nick Sachs, jeweler and appraiser from Sachs Jewelers in Boston.

Sachs’ store has launched an app allowing consumers to view inventory via iTunes before visiting the store to make a purchase. “In the future we may look to m-commerce, but as a store specializing in bridal jewelry, our primary concern is with the customer’s in-person shopping experience,” he says.

Retailers from both online and brick-and-mortar stores are challenged to retain their customer service while also altering their retail approaches to adapt to the changing marketplace. “Ultimately,” said CTS Retail’s statement, “retailers need to understand exactly what and how they are going to invest to get the best return on investment.”

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