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Make the Most Out of Mobile Commerce

Communications in general have come such a long way over the past 50 years that it may have been difficult for even the most radical futurist to envision what is done on mobile devices today. Some of you may remember around 50 years ago when the Dick Tracy two-way radio was the pinnacle of mobile communication…

…and now smart phone users take for granted being able to look up directions, have a video conference, and play their favorite video game all from the same device. But the best part is you don’t even need to have a box attached to your hip with an antenna coming out of it to get everything to work!

There have been a couple very interesting studies lately relating to mobile commerce which has really sparked the discussion and brought the topic to the forefront. A recent study conducted by our end-to-end eCommerce partner Demandware states that 96.2% of U.S. consumers own a mobile device, with slightly under half of those users owning a smart phone. Additionally, a study by Coda Research indicates that mobile commerce in the United States is forecasted to grow from a $1.2 billion dollar marketplace in 2009 to a $24 billion dollar marketplace in 2015, or 7.7% of all eCommerce revenue.

That’s a pretty substantial increase… if most eCommerce professionals told their boss that almost 10% of all their eCommerce transactions would be from mobile devices in the next 5 years, there might be more initiative to get the ball rolling on or enhance their current mobile plan.

We’ve still got a few years left before mobile commerce reaches this level, but here are a couple tips to help retailers prepare for the continued development of mobile commerce…

  • Comparative Shopping – As the percentage of mobile users with smart phones increases, more and more people are clogging up the aisles at retail stores to figure out if the item they have in their hand is priced accordingly in the store or if they can get it online for a better price. According to the Demanware study referenced earlier, this number has grown to a quarter of all mobile phone users. Some items have significantly higher mark-ups than others in a retail setting (technology cables come to mind) and comparative shopping is often the final factor to push the customer into purchasing or leaving the item on the shelf, especially with sale and clearance items
  • How to prepare – Customers are using apps for their phone, such as RedLaser for the iPhone, to scan the barcode of the item in question and gets a list of prices on the fly from a variety of sources. However even if the consumer finds the product cheaper online, odds are they won’t be able to purchase the product right there on the spot. This is where the evolution of the shopping cart in mobile commerce will come into play, allowing easy checkouts from anywhere and at any time. Imagine a potential customer purchasing a product from your website or app while standing in a rival store… pretty cool, isn’t it?

A Store Map of a Best Buy located in Framingham, MA
  • The Mobile Companion – It’s no surprise that as mobile devices have evolved, people have demanded more from them. The same can be said about mobile apps and websites. One feature which could really catch on is the ability for customers to integrate their shopping trips with their mobile device by creating lists, viewing store maps, and searching for products within the store. Turning a smart phone into a mobile companion within the store can also lead to a decrease in the probability of the customer engaging in price comparison and can alleviate losing customers who do not want to seek out assistance within the store.
  • How to prepare – We all know how important customer retention is for any industry. With a mobile companion, customers are more likely to have a positive experience in your store and look forward to coming back. Allow customers to easily order a product directly from their phone or at a checkout within the store if it is out of stock. Make it easy for customers to find floor employees via GPS tracking. Create an in-store experience like no other.

In short, the days of the Dick Tracy two-way radio are now a distant memory and mobile commerce is evolving faster than ever. What kind of services do you think your customers would want on their mobile devices?


As Chief Executive Officer, Mike Willoughby oversees the overarching strategy of PFSweb. He has been instrumental in the acquisition, development, integration and support of the company’s world-class technologies. It was Mike’s vision to diversify PFSweb’s offering by establishing two business units: the Operations Services unit, PFS, and the Professional Services unit, LiveArea.