E-Commerce Sites Need A Wireless Selling Strategy

Cisco finds that using cell phones as a purchasing point offers a major growth opportunity for retailers.

June 3, 2008

3 Min Read
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There is a major growth opportunity in customers researching and purchasing products on their cell phones and smartphones, Cisco System's third annual e-commerce study revealed.

Cisco found that advances in cell phone technology, like high-speed mobile Web access, have redefined the user's experience, and retailers need to establish a mobile strategy to capitalize on this growing trend.

"Mobile presents a revenue opportunity for retailers and opens up a new era of multichannel retail," said Dick Cantwell, VP of the Cisco Internet business solutions group, in a statement. "Multichannel retailing has morphed into a web of shopper touch points across stores, catalogs, mobile devices, and the Internet. Retailers must start offering shoppers an 'interconnected shop' if they are to take advantage of the mobile opportunities."

Companies like Amazon.com can be seen as leaders in mobile retail strategy, as it has recently implemented a way to purchase via text message. Cisco found Short Message Service is also being used to advertise, provide a two-way service for customers' questions, offer item availability, and deliver updates.

But text messaging is just the tip of the iceberg, as customers will soon expect to use their mobile devices to find stores, research products, make purchases, and manage their accounts, the study found.Cisco said 42% of retailers surveyed provide the ability to view product information on a mobile device through reformatted Web pages; 15% offer the ability to conduct transactions on a mobile phone; 10% use SMS to provide information or answer customer's questions; and 6% have Web pages and a URL specifically designed for mobile use.

In addition to a mobile strategy, the study found that retailers need to include social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace in their multichannel strategies. These networks are experiencing explosive growth and are quickly becoming, if not already, part of the mainstream.

The Cisco survey found 17% of those surveyed provide the capability to connect to communities of interest; 52% give customer reviews for products; 50% have advanced visualization tools; 50% use multimedia; and 50% offer customer support through multiple channels, such as click-to-chat.

Cisco offered suggestions for retailers based on the survey findings. These included becoming a trusted destination site for core shoppers; using social networking to attract Generation X and Baby Boomer age groups; developing a mobile strategy now that is both secure for users and superbly executed; and integrating new capabilities that shoppers will value. Finally, Cisco reminded retailers that innovation is an ongoing process and not an annual event; multichannel retailing is continually being redefined.

The Cisco study assessed 45 retailers from North America and Europe, looking at online shopping from the consumer's point of view. They focused on foundational aspects, such as search and user interface, and emerging aspects, like social networking integration.The study found that the top 10 overall e-commerce sites, from first to tenth, were Amazon.com, Best Buy, Sears, Circuit City, Quelle, Otto, Macy's, FNAC, Bol.com, and Argos Home Retail Group.

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