Even with the penetration of smartphones rising to 50% of all US mobile users by the end of the year, mobile ecommerce remains a work in progress for many medium-size and small retailers. Online retailers who did not yet invest in a mobile ecommerce retail solution, need to begin making investments in preparation for holidays 2011, where we will see the most dramatic mobile ecommerce consumer behavior changes. However, in their effort developing a mobile ecommerce many retailers are not considering the full range of available options, according to a new report from Forrester Research, called Mobile Commerce Solutions for Retail. Forrester analyst Peter Sheldon reviews the various options online retailers can choose from to get started with mobile ecommerce and lays out the pros and cons of each approach.
One route to developing a mobile ecommerce website, adopted by one-third of retailers, is to use one of the many mobile application development platforms that offer online tools for building customized mobile web sites and apps for iPhone and Android-powered smartphones. This strategy has pros and cons. It allows a retailer to launch a mobile commerce offering quickly, with minimal technical expertise, but due to the nature of the proprietary platform there is often no option to expand the functionality beyond what is offered through the platform, which limits an online retailers’ ability to differentiate and keep up with innovation in the fast-changing mobile landscape.
Another common path, which is taken by about one-quarter of online retailers, is to extend their existing ecommerce website to the mobile realm. There are at least three ways to accomplish this, including building a new custom mobile ecommerce web site and integrate this site with the current back-end technology and business processes. This is an approach often taken by large retailers with in-house resources and IT staff or those online retailers that can afford to hire an external website development company specializing in building mobile web sites and apps. The downside to the latter approach is that upfront development and ongoing maintenance costs will be required. Source
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