Mobile Commerce: Savior of retailers

Conventionally bricks and mortar retailers are facing the giants challenges due to popularity and easy access of online shopping and mobile technology. Shopping and spending is shifting online as technology progresses and consumers become more mobile-savvy. China has recently seen a boom in mobile commerce- opening online stores in messaging apps. Many regional stores in recent years went online in the Chinese messaging app WeChat. The gate for regional stores has been opened recently but bigger players were already in this new form of market since a longer period of time.

An interesting question here would be if Indian market can have a mobile service like this? The Indian and Chinese markets are similar to quite some extent. So, basic market characteristics are bound to match hugely. Furthermore, ecommerce is in boom in India as well. Hence, using a mobile commerce approach can be beneficial.

But, most of the Indian ecommerce giants already have an app. A separate platform with messaging apps might not seem a very good idea. The major potential of this idea however, lies for the offline stores.A sellers’ perspective.

One of the biggest criticisms of the online ecommerce stores has been that it gains an undue price advantage over the brick-and-mortar stores. The former’s disadvantage on the other hand is lack of a quick delivery system.

But, if the brick-and-mortar stores, often referred to as the offline stores can get an advantage if they can facilitate online transactions with quick delivery. This is where mobile commerce comes in. Let’s say there is a platform that allows these physical stores to host themselves online, at a smaller scale as WeChat did in China.

With the gradual advent of ecommerce integration with messaging apps, this can be a solace to the already declining trend of physical shopping. Through easy monetary transactions and the possibility of easy ordering of commodities from the comforts of home can boost up the sales of the offline stores.Obviously, this is going to come with some extra cost. The first thing that these stores will need to develop will be a quick delivery mechanism. This is the most important thing because that’s where they have an edge over the conventional ecommerce system. Many physical stores do provide home delivery services albeit on a micro level. Enhancement of that feature to a relatively larger level can fetch greater sales.

The second, cost that they will need to incur is the advertisement cost. WeChat’s store hosting platform was limited to the owner’s personal contacts only. If that system remains, the owner will have to expend time and/or money to obtain customers’ contact information to propagate the idea. If however, the owner is allowed to advertise freely, he will still need to meet online and offline advertisement expenses.The catch here is that the revenue should exceed the cost plus the opportunity cost of web hosting. This is where the chances of mobile shopping for a physical store might fail.

So, it is important that as and when such a platform comes in India, it is important that it is kept simple yet effective. Simplicity should come not only in user-friendliness but in other aspects of commerce as well. One of the issues discussed above is advertising. Other potential issue is monetary transactions. Increase in the virtual monetary system calls for an easy to use payment gateway system.
Thus, the success of this idea depends on several factors. However, the most important hurdle in India is the willingness of people to convert to such virtual platforms. So, the more important thing here will be to convince the physical stores of a hassle-free sales enhancement. Then only this idea will work.

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