In recent years, mobile commerce, or mCommerce, has developed into a major marketing tool for many industries. In the same way the Internet revolutionized communications and marketing, mobile communications technology has greatly refined the way business is done.
Essentially, mCommerce is in reference to a business transaction using any type of mobile device, including a mobile telephone or a personal digital assistant. Going to the store to shop has become archaic, with modern shoppers able to survey, select and purchase products from their own smart phone. According to one research study, nearly 40% of the their owners have used smart phones to make at least one transaction. And eCommerce is growing every year, with more than four billion mobile telephone users throughout the world. This tremendous growth in cellular telephone usage offers tremendous business opportunities, particularly for large retail outlets.
Mobile commerce came into being in 1997 when soft drink machines installed in and around the Finnish capital of Helsinki were equipped so they could be used by anyone with a mobile phone. The machines accepted payment through short-message texting services. The first mobile-phone banking service was established, also in Finland, the same year. Finland again led the way when the downloading of audio and video content became available there in 1998. A full array of banking activity was made possible via mobile phone access in a service that was established in the Philippines a year later. Once the world broke into the 21st Century, mobile marketing applications developed rapidly. By then, it was possible for those with mobile phones to pay for parking spaces in Norway, purchase train tickets in Austria and order airline tickets in Japan.
Many businesses have come to use mCommerce services to keep in touch with potential customers.
This capability was greatly enhanced when the iPhone was introduced in 2007. This technology offers considerably more security than conventional texting services, and is also less subject to the vagaries of telephone traffic “congestion”. A number of new eCommerce capabilities have recently come online, including location-based service (LBS), which can actually pinpoint the location of the mobile device and help guide shoppers to the nearest retail store. Other mobile marketing applications include the remote purchasing of “electronic” tickets, which can be presented at the desired venue, and the ability to obtain vouchers or coupons electronically. Through eCommerce technology, someone can receive news and sports reports, financial records and even participate remotely in auctions.