M-commerce: The way ahead

E-commere has grown extensively over time in India. M-Commerce too has the potential to be a winner but will it be able to reach that stature in India?
M-commerce The way ahead

India stands second in the world in terms of mobile phone user base with over 929.37 million users in May 2012. The total mobile subscribers stand at 929.37 million with nearly twice as many as subscribers being added every month. Of all the mobile phones that were sold last year, more than half were smart phones and an account of 10 million android phones being sold was noted. In December 2012, India recorded 87.1 million mobile internet users. 40 per cent of all internet users in India are connected to the net only through mobile phones.

These figures point towards the potential that the m-commerce segment puts forth in the county.  The segment is still at a very nascent stage but is believed to hold great potential.
Telephone subscribers Stats
·         Telephone subscribers (wireless and landline): 995.9 million (May 2012)
·         Cell phones: 929.37 million (May 2012)
·         Monthly cell phone addition: 8.35 million (May 2012)
·         Annual cell phone addition: 227.27 million (March 2010 - 2011)
The eBay India Mobile Commerce Report, based on the survey findings taken from 4500 eBay India users in May 2012, has indicated the following trends on how mCommerce is growing in India:Over 94 per cent of Indian smart phone users access the internet on their mobile. 70 per cent of smart phone users access online shopping websites.Over 87 per cent of Indian smart phone users compare Product Prices online.
Muralikrishnan B, Country Manager, eBay India tells, "mCommerce is becoming important not just for operators, but also for consumers who are using their mobile phone as a window to transact ‘anytime & anywhere’. mCommerce offers consumers a large store in their pocket. Online shopping and mobile shopping have their own set of advantages where online shopping provides consumers to shop online at the leisure of their homes while mCommerce allows buyers to shop while on the go." 
Global take
In China, at present two to three per cent of commerce is carried out through mobiles which are expected to reach 10 per cent in the coming two to three years. On the other hand in Western Europe and America, 50 per cent Smartphone mobile transactions have been recorded. 56 per cent of the business comes from M-commerce in these countries.
Speed breakers
India is past the strategic challenges that the m-commerce segment encountered a few years ago. It is on the path of growth and has opened up various avenues. The challenge lies with the first transaction that an individual makes from his phone. Once this hurdle is passed, the path stands open for this mode of shopping.
What also needs to be understood is that for a retailer m-commerce cannot be an extension of their e-retail offerings. Since both the mediums are different, the challenges that are faced are also a class apart. Since mobiles come with a smaller screen, the payment process cannot replicate the one that is in place online as people deter to go through a long and tedious payment regime. Bipin Preet Singh, Founder & CEO, MobiKwik says, “Mobile allows a customer to shop with a single click which makes them feel empowered. The first purchase is the key to the growth of the segment as a small percentage of people have made any mobile transactions in the country. 200 million mobile users being able to purchase at the click of a button is the bigger opportunity for India as the PC penetration is relatively low.” Adding Atrash Aman, COO & Business Head – mCommerce, HomeShop 18 said, “Put the customer at the centre when designing your m-commerce application. Keep it simple. Forget the paradigms that work on the internet.”
M wallet facilitates easy payment along with the option of refilling cash as and when required and the usage of the facility by other family members as well.
The road ahead
The industry is very nascent in India at the moment and hence puts across a lot of opportunities. Mobile payments are expected to reach more than $600 billion globally this year 2013.As per Mobile Internet Report by Internet and Mobile Association of India [IAMAI] and IMRB, there will be 130.6 million mobile internet users by March 2014 in the country. Global mobile transactions are predicted to be more than $1 Trillion by 2015 with the Asia/Pacific belt having the most m-payment users. Muralikrishnan adds, "The penetration of mobile phones in the country is eight to nine times more than the internet penetration. This clearly demonstrates the sheer potential of mCommerce in India. mCommerce will see a robust growth once mobile payment solutions emerge." 
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