MOBILE commerce is still growing at a massive rate. In fact, according to mobile shop-builder Mobicart, "all of the predictions people made are coming true".
According to an IBM Benchmark Report, sales on smartphone and tablet sales accounted for 11% of total online sales in December last year, double the figure from the previous year. Total m-commerce sales were estimated at more than $10bn (£6.4bn).
But what do people want from their mobile experience?
“It’s not just about shopping”, says founder Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine. “It’s about marketing and discovery.
“Mobile commerce is definitely coming to people’s attention more and more.
“It feels like eCommerce did 10 years ago, when people weren’t sure whether they needed to go online.
“We’ve currently got 10,000 people using the system. We’ve got a core group of customers that really know what they’re doing, and others who are only just getting into it.”
Mobicart enables retailers to easily build their own mobile commerce shops, and has customers including airline Flybe.
The company is currently rolling out its product on a variety of platforms, supported by a recent £100,000 investment from Northstar Ventures.
It has been operational on iPhone since 2010, but launched a magazine-styled iPad version just before Christmas.
“Catalogue shopping is massive and people are used to shopping like that”, said Baranoff-Rossine. “You swipe it with a finger and the pages turn. At the moment you can only shop, but we’re looking to extend that this year.”
An Android version is also due in about two weeks, while an HTML5 web app is coming in around five weeks. Mobicart is also integrating with a number of major shopping carts, and caters for both native apps and web apps.
“Native has better UI and works with less internet connection, but with web apps you don’t have to download anything”, said Baranoff-Rossine.
“Retailers need to have a strategy for both options. There’s a lot of conversation about how HTML5 will affect native apps, but Apple isn’t just going to stand still either.”
Mobicart already benefits from the work of its community, which has built several add-ons for the platform. Baranoff-Rossine says this community is “a core part of the product”.
This year, Mobicart will also be looking to enrich the experience offered to mobile shoppers.
“At the moment, you can browse and buy online, see the order history and account details, and retailers can send push notifications to customers within a certain radius. This year we’re extending this further to make it more of a tool for shopping. You could check into a location and claim reward points. You could view store locations, use QR code and bar code scanning and do voice activated search.
“We’re trying to make it an experience rather than just a place to buy. We’re looking at what Square’s doing with its cash register, and examining what can be done using augmented reality, such as being able to see what you look like with a certain pair of glasses on. There’s also the prospect of being able to use your TV more for shopping.”
This development is being facilitated by venture capital group Northstar Ventures, which recently injected £100,000 into the company from the Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund.
The Proof of Concept Fund is backed by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund. The investment forms part of a larger round for Mobicart.
Northstar investment manager Michelle Cooper said: “We are delighted to be working with Mobicart, who we consider to be a very exciting investment in the fast-growing mobile industry.
“In this ever-changing and growing industry, there are many opportunities for Mobicart to achieve great commercial success and growth.”