By Shripal Gandhi, Founder and CEO, Swipe Technologies
One in five people in the world own a smartphone and one in 15 own a tablet, according to recent BI Intelligence report.
Talking about the Indian market for a large percentage of the Indian population, smartphones are the first and only point of access to the Internet. As per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data released in December 2014, of the total 237 million Internet subscribers in the country, 92 per cent are mobile wireless subscribers, which clearly highlights the importance of mobile Internet services.
For the smart device manufacturers like us, m-commerce or mobile commerce is among the top 5 trends that we need to focus on when it comes to pushing growth. Popular apps like Paytm, m-Pesa and others are making huge inroads with adoption and being backed by investors' confidence.
Growth in India
The further development of mobile commerce offers great opportunities for the upcoming year 2015. For some, mobile devices will be the only contact point on their journey towards becoming online customers, while others will use smartphones in addition to computers and laptops.
Besides the fact that mobile commerce in India has grown significantly over the next few years, the content available on mobile devices will be personalised to suit individual customers to a greater degree, using information about their previous purchases, social networks, etc.
Although screen size and data speed limits the user experience on smartphones/tablets/phablets, companies will have to continue to find innovative ways to present their products in ways that are competitive for e-commerce stores over personal computers. Moreover, the connection between social networks and mobile commerce will have to be leveraged in order to escalate sales.
The fact that social networking giant like Facebook registered more revenue from mobile in the US shows how much m-commerce can add to the revenues for us as well.
Google India recently partnered with a host of e-commerce players like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Homeshop18, IndiatimesShopping and Makemytrip to bring its own version and we can see that buyers now want to buy products online. Growth is at every footstep when we talk about m-commerce in India as well as the world.
Offline Retailers like Vijay Sales, Mobile Store etc and online retailers like Flipkart and Snapdeal have placed heavy bets on the mobile market. It is definitely one of the revenue engines for them. Brands like ours are making huge impact on the budget segment, which is one of the fundamental underlying forces of this market.
India has a big pent up demand for smartphone devices as they present an opportunity for the true empowerment of the common man. The time now is for the retail space to take cue from this and invest even more in making purchases easier for people by bringing m-commerce on board and then promoting it on their end. Basic economics like the game theory dictate this play for retailers and the existing trend shows that everyone is jumping onto the bandwagon.
In the past, m-commerce startups and initiatives have struggled to get support. Many m-commerce apps have been developed since 2010 when the e-commerce game began. But hardly any made an impact.
2014 saw the doors open for them as mobile banking became more secure and consumer perception for online purchase changed dramatically in most categories. Even factors like 3G penetration have contributed to this. Though Innovative marketing is the key, but at the end of the day it's a game of numbers and only those who can drive volume in the number of purchases, will be able to reap the benefits.
Mobile Commerce in 2015
2015 is going to be another step on the ladder and retailers can expect actual returns on their investments. Turning m-commerce apps on mobile as point-of-sale device replacements should be the ultimate goal.
Countries like South Korea are already far ahead of us in this and present us with interesting learning opportunities for the implementation of the same. India stands at an important threshold of internet boom in the country and if we are to move forward for vision 2020, we have to tame m-commerce and turn it into our strength.
I expect a great demand in the coming year as all the big giants in the telecom industry has a lot of expectation from the upcoming year 2015. It is estimated, that around 27 million (in India) are active mobile internet users. Currently, 4 per cent are buying products through mobiles and in next four years' time, it can go up to 20 per cent. Going by the current trend, the industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 57 per cent and is likely to reach $34.2 billion by 2015.