Single-Click Your Way To Mobile Commerce Success
|Analysis From Massimiliano Silenzi, Head of Onebip
In the era of smartphones and tablets, today’s mobile consumers have shown an incredible appetite for consuming content and media. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, 2011 was the first year that global consumer spending on media content, apps and services for mobile phones broke through the USD$100 billion barrier. In its most recent Global Mobile Media Forecast (April 2012), Strategy Analytics forecast that consumer spending on mobile media will rise from $121.8 billion in 2011 to $138.2 billion in 2012 – an increase of over 13%.
With such a potentially lucrative market, retailers and merchants of all kinds need to consider mobile users as a key demographic and plan their digital stores accordingly - which means that consumers need to be able to easily purchase as well as browse from their devices. Where things become more complex is in defining the best way to deliver this experience.
We’ve seen the huge revenues being generated by the Apple and Google Play apps stores. However, each currently requires the consumer to have a credit card and user account in place. What about the millions of other mobile users worldwide who have a mobile device, but don’t have a credit card or even a bank account? The opportunity to reach these mobile consumers and to offer them - whether banked or unbanked - a simple, straightforward purchasing experience on their device, is the reason why carrier direct billing is gaining momentum around the world and broadening the market for digital content.
Open up the market with direct billing
Using a mobile operator’s pre-existing billing system presents a valuable opportunity to drive the purchase of mobile digital goods to the mass market. All mobile users will have an operator connection, and that’s the vital ingredient to delivering an optimal mobile purchasing experience.
We’ve come a long way from the walled garden approaches of old. Mobile operators have made good progress in opening up their billing systems to partners and third party content providers, so that direct operator billing has become widely available around the world.
For a merchant, direct billing via operators offers fast-track access to a vast and lucrative end-user market. It opens up its mobile content, products and services to a broad range of consumers - including both pre-paid and contract mobile customers, and those without a bank account or credit card. This broad reach is especially important in high-growth emerging markets, where mobile consumers are keen to move beyond basic voice and text, and experience for themselves content-based features and services.
A secure and seamless user experience
Direct billing also plays an integral part in enabling a transaction flow for the consumer that is quick, easy to use, and above all, secure. The same billing system that logs voice and data calls against a subscriber’s account also serves as the automatic end-user authentication for every transaction. Consumers can quickly and easily make purchases using their mobile which will be automatically charged back to their mobile bill.
A frictionless transaction flow
It’s also essential that digital merchants optimise every step of the transaction flow, providing a truly frictionless user experience and making it as easy as possible for a consumer to make a purchase. The end-user should be able to move from discovery to checkout and final confirmation in as few keystrokes or screen taps as possible. By optimising the transaction process in this way, the merchant increases the chances that the consumer will successfully complete their transaction.
Because every barrier between the decision to purchase and the actual payment confirmation represents an opportunity for the consumer to drop out of the transaction, the purchase flow is critical. A combination of the right user interface, plus clear and simple payment prompts, and as few steps (and screens) as possible together give the best chance for a merchant to convert browsing into purchasing.
Recent advances in mobile payments means that digital merchants can finally offer a truly single-click mobile purchasing experience, integrated into any kind of website, content, application or service that is accessible via a mobile browser, including web apps built using HTML5. This flexibility is ideal for a merchant to monetise a wide range of digital content and services for easy purchase by consumers.
Everything from apps and games; to music downloads and live video streaming; premium subscriptions to online news and media; and paid-for access to social networks, dating services, or gaming sites.
This type of solution enables the end-user to securely purchase digital content and services with just a single click or tap on their device. No PIN code or password to input. No waiting for an SMS confirmation link to click on. The consumer clicks to confirm their purchase and the single-click solution automatically charges it back to their mobile bill.
Multiple devices, multiple connections
The sheer variety of mobile devices and also connection types available to consumers also presents a potential stumbling block to merchants. In today’s inter-connected “multi device, multi network” mobile world, consumers want to make purchases on a variety of mobile devices and connecting technologies – from an iPhone on a 3G connection: to a WiFi-enabled tablet device; a web-connected legacy phone; or even a laptop with an ADSL connection.
An effective merchant needs to deliver the same secure, intuitive and frictionless transaction flow across these multiple platforms, devices, and connection types. To achieve this they need an intelligent transaction solution with the built-in flexibility and interoperability that identifies the connection type and terminal involved in a transaction, and optimises the payment flow accordingly. Easy to say, but difficult for many mobile payment specialists to deliver due to the complexity involved.
A global partner for a global market
But successfully monetising mobile content does not stop at providing end-users with an optimised and frictionless payment solution. Direct billing is also an opportunity for an independent merchant or developer to monetise their digital assets on a global stage.
When it comes to selecting a payment service provider to deliver this kind of reach and scale, merchants should look for a partner that firstly, has direct connections and relationships with multiple operators, but who is also capable of supporting the merchant effectively. This support can include advice on how to adjust the merchant’s pricing structure according to local economic conditions such as subscriber spending patterns and billing behaviour: and negotiating custom revenue pay-out rates, price points and marketing support with individual mobile operators.
The ability to get this expert advice and on-the-ground support can’t be underestimated. With multi-national and global services, knowledge of local Government regulation, local operator policies and even the best way to deliver targeted advertising and marketing initiatives to consumers, can be the difference between success and failure.
The right partner for the right strategy
Above all, the most important factor for all merchants looking to capture the growing number of mobile consumers is to find a payments solution that works for them. As we’ve already seen, there are multiple considerations for anyone wanting to maximise the potential of mobile transactions, and when it comes to ubiquity and ease of use, some payment platforms are more equal than others.
But we are still only at the start of the growth curve. Mobile transactions are a small slice of the global e-commerce pie. Smart merchants also understand that there’s a long way to go, and that the best way to realise value over the long term is to work with a payments provider that can help them deliver the right strategy for tomorrow as well as today.
Massimiliano Silenzi is Head of Onebip, the mobile payment business unit of global mobile commerce company Neomobile. For more information on Onebip, please visit www.onebip.com.
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