As revolutionary as eCommerce was nearly a decade ago, between the rise of free delivery, massive online auction sites and Internet book retailers, it is due for another change. Mobile devices are swiftly altering the way people shop, from showrooming in brick-and-mortar stores to buying goods with their tablets. Based on comScore's recent findings, mCommerce accounted for $10 billion in sales during the first half of 2013 and is expected to surpass $25 billion by year's end. It represents 10 percent of all digital sales and will only achieve a greater share of purchases made as the technology grows more convenient and widespread.
The mobile wallet
Beyond consumers purchasing items online through their smartphones and tablets, they are also increasingly using their mobile devices as wallets and credit cards. Google Wallet's one of the more notable versions, and it relies on near field communication (NFC) to complete transactions at compatible terminals. Ars Technica recently reported that Google updated the platform with the ability to send money to email addresses making the platform more versatile. Mobile carriers Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are also developing their own collaborative take on the technology, though it has yet to be released. Even as smartphones are transforming eCommerce, they may also alter the way consumers shop in brick-and-mortar stores through mobile payment.
However, security breaches were one of the problems that eCommerce experienced during its initial growth period. As the digital landscape has become a critical piece of information management within most institutions, from banks to governments to retailers, the amount of pressure from hackers and other malicious actors has also increased. Identity and password theft are both real concerns for people providing their credit card details to online merchants. Just as Internet sales are changing, protective measures need to change with them.
With mobile devices expanding as drivers for eCommerce and potentially traditional sales, they should also integrate into online security efforts. The nature of these devices means that they will almost always be on the owner, so they are almost as much of an identifier as a fingerprint. Internet retailers should implement identity management solutions that take advantage of the shift in eCommerce. As many consumers purchases will be made on their smartphones or tablets, authentication that accounts for the equipment will provide a more convenient and secure shopping experience.
While mCommerce is unlikely to overtake more traditional eCommerce channels, linking customer accounts to their mobile devices remains a viable way of verifying someone's credentials. After all, most people will still have their phone on them while they're sitting in the comfort of their own home.
Meanwhile, online retailers may be able to encourage new customers to shop on their site because less personal information will need to be divulged to the merchant. Multi-factor authentication that works through a smartphone avoids consumers needing to divulge details about their life for verification questions that they may not want to provide.
Centralizing retail, identity management and credit information into one device also creates one of the main drivers for sales: convenience. Part of the reason why people rely on mobile devices for purchases is that they can buy something from anywhere. Merchants that provide their shoppers an easier way to access products and services while completing a transaction may benefit from increased sales. Retailers should be ready to transform with their customers, and provide them the security and convenience they've come to expect.
As the Internet drastically changed the way people shopped, mobile payments both online and in the physical world appear ready to create an evolution in commerce.