How mobile commerce will pan out in India? [#IRE 2014]

Over 65 % of the users feel mobile is the convenient way to make transactions, while 97% are asking for more mobile interactions with retailers and businesses including telcos and banks, reports SAP. The key drivers for this growth are said to be increasing internet penetration along with easy affordability of mobile devices and on the go accessibility.

However, if talked about mobile commerce in the country, then, according to MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index (MPRI), India ranked 21st among 34 countries with the score of 31.4 on a scale of 100. The index also pointed out that only 14 per cent of Indian consumers are familiar with Mcommerce transactions.

It has been believed that in the coming years, Mcommerce will surpass Ecommerce in India. Will this really happen? If yes, then when and how. At iamWire’s Internet Retail Expo 2014, the panel of industry experts discussed the current Mcommerce scenario and future growth in depth.

The panel included Anirudh Suri, MD, India Internet Group (Moderator); Amit bhartiya, ex-MD, ex-Komli; Narayan Ivaturi, Director Global Sales & Strategy, Vserv; Bipin Preet Singh, MD & Co-founder, MobiKwik; Pratap TP, CMO, Qwikcilver; Shankar Nath, Senior VP, PayTM and Abhishek Parihar, Head – Digital Marketing and Web Projects, Leading Mobogenie Global Marketing Campaigns.

As per Amit, at present there are a few gaps prevalent in the sector such as:

- Smartphones are mostly local/ POS driven; Whilst companies are research driven

- Screen sizes demands simplicity and focus

- Mobile phones have taken users to swipe vs scroll demands

- Choice between native apps or mobile sites is challenging, etc.

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Among the various benefits that mobile has, it has mainly brought along with it assisted commerce in form of chat apps, video chat modes and much more. Also, it has given the ability to broadcast tailor-made efforts to users.

Further, on asking whether a start up or entrepreneur should go for mobile first in India today?, a mixed reaction was seen from the panelists. However, all agreed to the fact that it all depends upon what exactly a startup is offering through the site.

“Every site needs to be mobile responsive. Any websites’ that are not, are dinosaurs. If you have people hooked on to your application, there cannot be a better tool for customer loyalty,” added Amit.

On the other hand, Abhishek believes that the overall acceptance and usability of credit cards is less on mobile compared to the PC. Bipin agreed with Amit stating that a consumer downloading your mobile app is far more valuable than who is using your m-site. However, he also said that mobile is not everything. Its just a part of the broader picture.

In views of Shankar, one really need to make an exclusive solution for mobile and not necessarily structured around what you are offering on web. “Whether you go only mobile or web+ mobile, the fact is you cannot ignore mobile at all,” said Shankar.

Pratap took a slightly different angle to portray his thoughts. He said that one must ask a few questions such as “Are you going to be able to fund your business on your own?” “What will be your objective?” etc. to decide what exactly to choose. “Ecommerce will not die because of Mobile has now entered the domain” he added.

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Placing his views in the discussion, Anirudh said that mobile remains a point of debate and unless one’s business needs specifics like Location based services, he must go for a web based application.

“36%-40% transaction are from mobile and 90% are from COD. Paying for downloads doesn’t always lead to user loyalty, the user experience is the main factor,” said Anirudh.

According to the Panel, “it is not about infrastructure, it is about the culture. A responsive design of your website makes you good for any kind of business online. Mobile users don’t need to be targeted separately. Responsive Design is one way looking at it.”

When asked about how to tackle the challenge of dealing with the mobile population non responsive to english language, Mr. Bhartiya answered, “You need to think about how you are taking your brand beyond metro cities. The language of business remains to stay English, content will be consumed in the language they are comfortable in but not business.”

In addition, Bipin said that if one is in a vertical that wants to sell something, then there is no point being multilingual, unless the business is over $100bn.

For an overview of the social media discussions around this session, see this Storify. You can also watch this three-minute trailer or the full video.