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January 03 2013

Commerce Weekly: iPhone NFC rumors return

Happy new year! Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space recently.

Apple NFC rumors revived

PassbookiPhonePassbookiPhoneWe’ve no sooner outfitted our shiny new iPhone 5s with cases and fancy accessories than rumors of the iPhone 6 have emerged. Matt Brian reports at The Next Web that “Apple has been testing hardware relating to a new ‘iPhone6,1′ identifier, powered by a device running iOS 7.”

There’s also renewed rumors of Apple’s intention to integrate NFC technology into the next iPhone. Mikey Campbell reports at Apple Insider that on December 20, 2012, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application filed by Apple in 2011 “for an ‘Integrated coupon storage, discovery, and redemption system,’ a property covering the receipt, storage and use of digital coupons on mobile device” — basically, what Passbook became this past year. Campbell notes that NFC capabilities also are mentioned in connection with coupon redemption, indicating “that the company is at least thinking about including the protocol in future versions of the iPhone or iPod Touch.”

Joann Pan at Mashable notes the implications such integrated technology could have on retail shopping for consumers and merchants alike. She writes:

“With Apple’s proposed ‘integrated coupon storage,’ patrons will be able to walk into stores and receive notifications about items for which they have coupons. After the transaction is complete, the customer will receive a digital receipt wirelessly. Alerts will also be pushed for coupons with impending expiration dates. The patent also mentions a verification system for coupons and discounts.”

Holiday mobile commerce records are tip of the iceberg

Though the record-setting holiday season is behind us, this is no time for retailers to rest on their respective mobile commerce laurels, says Mobile Marketing Association’s Jack Philbin in a post at Fast Company. Philbin argues that this holiday season was just the “tip of the iceberg of what is sure to become a mobile-dominated shopping experience during the next few years” and that retailers need to think mobile 365 days of the year from here on out.

Philbin offers retailers several “actionable steps,” including expanding the holiday mobile strategy into a year-long strategy with the holiday season as one aspect, and integrating traditional marketing plans into mobile plans, creating one overall strategy. “The lines are blurring between marketing channels,” Philbin writes, “and now more than ever, retailers need to think about how to execute a seamless brand experience — integrating all of consumers’ favorite platforms and channels.”

It’s also time for retailers to “embrace mobile as the shopping companion,” Philbin says — and recent study results indicate he might be right. In separate posts at Internet Retailer (here and here), Bill Siwicki, managing editor at Mobile Commerce, took a look at a two such studies that show consumers are becoming comfortable with their smartphones and are yearning for more shopping integration.

The first, a study of smartphone owners conducted by ad agency Moosylvania, showed that 80% of respondents “want more mobile-optimized product information while they’re shopping in stores.” Researchers also found that 30.1% of respondents research products when away from home, and 12.4% of those do so in stores. They also found that 76% of respondents are comfortable with mobile coupons and that 44% would welcome mobile wallet capabilities. Siwicki also looked at a survey conducted by Perception Research Services International that showed 76% of respondents who own a smartphone use it while shopping; of those, 53% compare prices, 49% read customer reviews, and 48% hunt for coupons or sales.

Mobile wallets: now or never?

Michael Brush at MSN Money took a look at the mobile wallet battle and says if you don’t already have a mobile wallet, you probably will by the end of 2013 — and maybe more than one. Brush looks at the battleground from both consumer and investor perspectives, noting that for consumers, it will change how — and how much — they spend; for investors, the battle is “worth studying because there will be major winners and losers.” LevelUp CEO Seth Priebatsch told Brush, “I think 2013 is going to be the year where mobile payments will happen and there will be a winner, or mobile payments won’t ever happen at all.”

The battle boils down to two goals from the vendor/retailer perspective, says Brush: improved marketing efforts and potential savings in credit card fees. On the marketing front, the “Big Brother-ish” nature of the data collection efforts will likely force providers to tread lightly, Brush notes, but consumers stand to benefit big as wallet competitors fight for adoption. Industry analyst Aaron McPherson told Brush the mobile wallet battle “will be a bloodbath in 2013.”

Brush also outlines each of the current key players, who they are and how they measure up — you can read his full report here.

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August 09 2012

Commerce Weekly: Starbucks gives Square’s mobile payment a big push

Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space this week.

Square gets Starbucks, cash and Howard Schultz

SquareSquare announced a new partnership with Starbucks this week. Peter Ha at TechCrunch reports:

“Beginning this fall, Square will begin processing all U.S. credit and debit card transactions at participating Starbucks stores across their 7,000 locations. Pay with Square users will be able to find a nearby Starbucks in the Square Directory from their iPhone or Android smartphone.”

Ha notes in his post that as part of the partnership, Starbucks also is ponying up $25 million in series D funding for Square and offering up its CEO, Howard Schultz, to serve on Square’s board of directors.

Harry McCracken points out in a post at Time Techland the partnership will put Square in a much better position to compete on the mobile payment front. McCracken writes:

“At the moment, Pay with Square is accepted at around 40,000 locations — mostly neighborhood businesses such as independent coffee shops, restaurants and beauty salons. The agreement with Starbucks will put it in a major nationwide chain for the first time, and therefore puts it in closer competition with Google Wallet, which is already accepted at Home Depot, Office Depot, Starbucks rival Peet’s, Macy’s, RadioShack, 7-Eleven and other major merchants.”

Another important aspect of the agreement is that Starbucks will promote other local Pay with Square merchants “from within a variety of Starbucks digital platforms, including the Starbucks Digital Network and eventually the Starbucks mobile payment application.” As Ha notes in his post, “this catapults Square into the mainstream consciousness for the millions of drones who drop by their local Starbucks on the way to work.”

X.commerce harnesses the technologies of eBay, PayPal and Magento to create the first end-to-end multi-channel commerce technology platform. Our vision is to enable merchants of every size, service providers and developers to thrive in a marketplace where in-store, online, mobile and social selling are all mission critical to business success. Learn more at x.com.

And the winner is …

There’s a lot at stake in the race to control the blossoming mobile commerce market. A new report from ABI research predicts that by the end of 2017, 24.4% of online revenue will come from mobile commerce. And given that the mobile device market is just starting to boom, that percentage is likely to increase.

Consumer goods analyst Austin Smith interviewed with Isaac Pino at The Motley Fool this week and declared eBay, Amazon and Google early winners of mobile commerce race.

Smith highlights several reasons for his choices. EBay, he notes, sells 8,000 cars per week on eBay Mobile, and he also points out that eBay’s PayPal division is expected to handle $10 billion in transactions next year. As for Amazon, Smith says the company recently saw mobile sales top $1 billion and pointed to its ever-growing ecosystem of tablets and a possible transition toward a phone. And for Google, Smith reasons that “there are very few companies out there that have as powerful data analytics as Google … virtually no company has better data about how you shop.”

Keeping itself in the winner’s circle for now, eBay announced this week that the eBay Now mobile app will allow shoppers to order products from local retailers, with same-day delivery (a service Amazon has also been rumored to be pursuing). According to a report at Reuters, eBay is testing the app with a number of retailers, including Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and Walgreens, in the San Francisco market. The report describes the consumer experience:

“Shoppers involved in the test can download the app onto mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad, then search for products to buy from local stores in San Francisco. When they find a product, users press a ‘Bring It’ button and the order is sent to couriers. The courier closest to the product accepts the order, drives to the store to pick up the product and then delivers it to the shopper’s home. Customers pay when the product arrives.”

According to the report, the first three deliveries are free, and “after that, delivery is $5 for the test period, and the minimum order is $25.”

The secret to winning the mobile wallet race

Forrester Research senior analyst Denee Carrington has a new report out this week on the mobile wallet wars. In a post at Forbes, Carrington shares a few takeaways from her research, including the secret to winning the mobile wallet race:

“Winning wallets will be convenient to use, contextually relevant, with a compelling experience. Moving the needle on the adoption of digital wallets — particularly for mobile digital wallets — will require infusion of significant value throughout the purchase journey before, during, and after payment. Winning solutions will bring this to life through greater convenience, contextual relevance, and a compelling purchase experience.”

Carrington also takes a look at the market dynamics and competitive nature of the mobile wallet landscape, and argues that NFC wallets may not reign victorious in the end. Hardware-agnostic wallets face fewer hurdles and thus will enjoy faster adoption. You can read more of Carrington’s insights here and find her full report here.

Tip us off

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

Commerce Weekly is produced as part of a partnership between O’Reilly and PayPal.

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