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It’s Time for M-commerce

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NIFT explores the two basic technical conditions for mobile shopping: mobile devices and mobile internet.

“M-commerce is the use of mobile devices to communicate, inform, transact and entertain using text and data via a connection to public and private networks,” said Lehman Brothers. Broadly speaking, M-commerce refers to wireless electronic commerce used for doing business through any handy device, that is, a mobile or a tablet. It is the newest way to reach out to customers through e-commerce after desktop. It is also said to be the next generation wireless e-commerce that needs no plugin devices and in which the user can perform any kind of transaction including buying and selling of goods, requesting for services, transacting and transferring money by accessing wireless Internet service on the mobile handset or tablet.

In the current commerce industry, mobile commerce or m-commerce has forayed into sectors like finance, banking services, tele-communication, information technology services and retail. In these sectors, m-commerce is not just widely accepted but also it is being used as a popular way of doing business. India has the highest penetration rate of mobile services in the world, with 73 percent mobile service subscribers in 2013, in which over 176 million were Internet subscribers and of which 11.91 percent are 3G
service subscribers and 83.41 percent are GPRS or EDGE service subscribers.

M-commerce is at a developing stage in fashion retail across the globe. Similarly, in India it is at an early stage of development in fashion retail. Moreover, mobile-based transactions have gained traction here and have become an integral part of a consumer’s life. More than half of the consumers in India indulge in mobile purchases for entertainment services like cinema, theatre shows, DVDs, sport games (53 percent), and music downloads (48 percent). While, key purchases done via mobile are clothes, footwear, other attires (47 percent) and books or e-books.

Fashion retailers have two ways to establish mobile presence – through mobile website or mobile apps. Many fashion retailers, such as PUMA, Max, adidas, Nike, Utsav Fashion, and Ethnic Fashion have launched their own mobile apps to market products and services, manage customer relationships and even make m-commerce. One of the key strengths of smartphone and tablet PCs are the mobile apps. So, the growing popularity of smartphone and tablet represents the importance of mobile apps in the future.

According to Adobe Mobile Consumer Survey (2013), shoppers prefer mobile sites to mobile apps during mobile shopping. Meanwhile, another survey by Retail System Research (2013) revealed that only 20 percent respondents do not believe apps will yield more engagement than a mobile site, and 79 percent respondents feel that a cut and paste version of a full e-commerce site is not a viable option to woo customers.

Mobile site is a mobile version of a website. However, consumers usually rate mobile apps higher than mobile sites in terms of usability and user experience perspective. According to Nielsen research (2012), people between the age group of 18 and 34 have the highest smartphone penetration rate. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Ecoconsultancy (2012) also indicated that people from 18 to 34 age group are the most active mobile shoppers. M-marketing is gaining wider acceptance and becoming more and more important in the retail sector so much so that it is changing the paradigm of retailing. A retailer can be anywhere, and can reach his customers anytime through mobile devices now. Further, mobile marketing campaigns can be in a variety of forms, including Short Message Service (SMS) advertising campaigns, mobile-optimised websites and mobile applications marketing.

The new frontiers in m-commerce have opened up by mobile applications (apps) associated with smartphones. The marketers have leveraged the full potential of mobile handsets as a marketing channel via mobile apps. Thus, marketing using mobile apps is an upcoming trend and app marketing is now an unavoidable marketing strategy for fashion retailers. Multiple-channel marketing provides better and userfriendly shopping experience to customers, and this phenomenon undoubtedly exists in India. In view of the accelerating competition in mobile service industry, it is essential for apparel retailers to investigate how to motivate users. Relevant studies demonstrate higher level of satisfaction may induce repeat purchase and develop loyalty with retailers in the long run. According to a study recently conducted for a project – mobile applications for fashion retail – it was found about the drivers and barriers towards mobile application for fashion retail (MAFR). What product category consumers are most willing to purchase from MAFR? What are the key functions that a consumer seeks in an app? Which functions in apps will enhance the shoppers’ experience and performance during shopping? Based on the responses, it was found that free size products have the highest acceptance via MAFR. The higher the product complexity, the lower the acceptance in app purchases, for example bottomwear have lower acceptance

compared to tops. Moreover, it was also observed that service-oriented apps have the highest rating for usefulness, followed by product promotions, informative contents, multimedia product viewing and consumer-led interaction functions. It was also found that discount vouchers, product information, search functions, product-viewing functions, payment mode and store locators have the most outstanding usefulness rating. The study also suggested some key attributes for MAFR adoption that provide managerial implication to fashion marketers and channel managers. It identified ways to increase consumers’ intention to use MAFR.

PERCEIVED MOBILITY: Consumers show high intensity to use MAFR if they can be used anywhere. Therefore, retailers should opt for browsing in which most of the information can be used or browsed by the users easily.

PERCEIVED EASE: Retailers should pick user-friendly apps for their customers to interact in an effortless way.

SOCIAL NORM: Consumers use apps when they are introduced by peers or widely campaigned through media. More so, they are influenced by word-of-mouth, important others’ opinions, etc. Therefore, fashion retailers need to provide satisfactory experience to their users and encourage them to share these favourable experiences with their peers to attract new app users. Besides the traditional mass media – like television and print – fashion retailers should use new mass media channels to promote apps, such as Facebook and Twitter.

PERCEIVED USEFULNESS: Consumers are comfortable with apps when they believe that it will help them to increase their shopping experience. The functions performed in apps critically affect its usefulness, for example, mobile voucher, product information, search functions, product-viewing functions, online customer services, payment mode and store locator. Thus, fashion retailers have to offer these functions in their app to improve its usefulness.

PERCEIVED ENJOYMENT: The apps not only provide utilitarian value, but also provide hedonic appeal to consumers emotionally. The enjoyment factors – like virtual try-on function games and quiz based on brands merchandise and style – suggest that fashion retailers should consider ‘consumer indulgence’ when developing an app to encourage them to adopt it.Finally, the risk when adopting MAFR would be lower when consumers trust fashion retailers. Therefore, the retailers need to carry out trust-building campaigns including privacy guarantee, company policies and statement and so on. Moreover, monetary risk can be lowered by cooperating with reliable app service vendors and trustworthy credit card companies.

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