Route to mCommerce Success – Mobile Operators
The mCommerce space is up for grabs and it is not predetermined who will win. Mobile operators already have the relationship with the consumer and are clearly well positioned. However they face intense competition from other industry participants including content providers, eCommerce merchants, digital startups and even banks. All these actors will want their share of the new income streams mCommerce promises to bring.
Yet as we have discussed elsewhere mobile operators’ success in bringing digital products to market has been a mixed bag. The reasons for this are many fold. Operators will need to improve upon their digital strategy execution if they are not to become the dumb pipes of this nascent industry. So, given this, what is the route to mCommerce success?
Firstly, sound product development practices must be put in place. This might be the least sexy part of innovating a digital product but unless you are listening to the market you cannot be certain that you are building something that the market wants. For mCommerce this includes sourcing market-relevant content and developing apps with market appropriate UX. Not all consumers will be transacting on iPhones with 4G signals. Incorporating lean startup methods will help here too and ensure you’re not just launching another ‘me-too’ product in your market.
Once you have developed the product that you believe the market wants, you then have to put your product marketing skills to work. This means targeting your chosen market segment with insight-driven consumer propositions which are appropriate for the local market. Combined with an appropriate marketing communications campaign you will begin to drive the necessary engagement to ensure your product is a success. Note that product marketing and marketing communications are very different processes and should be handled by separate teams, as we discuss here.
Build on existing strengths
As well as having built the data networks necessary to host mCommerce, most mobile operators, at least in emerging markets, have already launched some form of mobile wallet service. Whilst many of these services perhaps have not yet had the take up that was hoped for, this infrastructure can still be used to drive mCommerce. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
As payment methods other than cash (e.g. cards) aren’t readily available to the vast majority of people in many emerging markets, mobile money offers another alternative. It can be the grease to turn the mCommerce engine. And in turn mCommerce gives mobile money a new use-case, increasing mobile money’s attractiveness for consumers. A win win for the operator.
Partnerships – no man is an island
Lastly, don’t try to control to whole ecosystem. This has not been a strength of the operators in the past. Even Apple, who famously try to control their ecosystem to the greatest extent possible, still need to partner with app developers and digital content providers to maximise their offering. Mobile operators will need to do the same whilst ensuring they have a local focus and relevance for their commerce and media content. This shared success model allows all participants to focus on their core strengths ensuring that the consumer proposition brought to market is as strong and compelling as possible.
Follow this path and new income streams will be realised, mobile money transactions increased, boosting brand loyalty and decreasing churn. In short you will have cracked mCommerce and have it working for you.