American Marketer


Can brands grow mobile commerce alone?

August 14, 2013

Erika Racicot is cofounder of Slyce Commerce


By Erika Racicot

OK, so we all agree the Internet is cool. It is great for establishing how Kim Kardashian is taking to motherhood, it is how we find the top ten of just about everything and, arguably more significantly than either of these, it plays a vital role in how we choose to spend our money.

Gone are the days of the scary black hole of cyberspace. Buying online is just how we do things now.

And so to the new frontier of mobile commerce.

With rates of smartphone adoption now seemingly resembling telephone numbers, brands are, more than ever, trying desperately to understand and harness the burgeoning potential of what is a rapidly-changing mobile marketplace.

We are spending more time than ever on our mobile devices and they are fast becoming our preferred way to source and purchase products. This does not mean we are not using desktops to purchase anymore.

Mobile commerce is presenting us with an avenue to indulge in spur-of-the-moment, impulse purchasing, which often would not otherwise take place at all.

A recent study from Google and IPSOS, however, indicates that there undoubtedly remains significant room for improvement since still only 31 percent of smartphone users are actually making purchases via their phone.

So what is holding up the process? Arguably – too much noise.

Treasure hunt

Even for brands which saw it coming, there has not been a cohesive approach. In their haste to best provide for an ever-expanding pool of eager mobile consumers, like kids on a treasure hunt, they have scattered in a multitude of directions looking for the best solutions.

Many created applications, yet a study by Deloitte found that 80 percent of branded apps were downloaded fewer than 1,000 times and that the majority of smartphone users carried only one or two retailer or manufacturer apps on their phone.

Beyond apps, there are concentrated efforts on optimizing Web sites, creating mobile-tailored marketing campaigns, augmented reality and using a multitude of differing payment solutions. There is been no lack of activity but, some might argue, a lack of clarity.

The majority of smartphone users are comfortable navigating the Web on any device. We have come a long way from wide-eyed Neanderthals marvelling at moving images on our computer screens and are now the equivalent of digital free runners - agile, impatient and obstacle-adverse.

Commonly cited weaknesses within mobile commerce platforms are:

• Poor functionality and confusing navigation processes

• Poor consideration of mobile users’ needs and objectives

• Complicated checkout processes

• Consumer confidence with transaction security

Now, while individual brands and retailers can aim to streamline these processes within their own mobile commerce strategies, consumers with endless variations of taste and tolerance are still going to be continually confronted with a barrage of varying discovery methods, platform functionalities and payment processes.

Recognizing the gap

A significant opportunity now exists in optimizing the mobile shopping experience for the consumer through making the discovery and purchase experience comprehensive, consistent across all brands and retailers, highly efficient and secure.

Reason would suggest that this can truly only be achieved through a dynamic, ubiquitous platform which was independent and considered consumer first – always.

Erika Racicot is cofounder of Slyce Commerce, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Reach her at