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Danielle Thomas
February 28, 2013
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Mobile workforce

Mobile Commerce Is Here – Are You Prepared?

Shopping CartThe U.S. economy has been disrupted in so many ways over the last four years. The greatest recession since the Depression derailed growth and caused a huge contraction in retail sales. Fewer dollars being spent had a ripple effect through the economy, as millions of jobs were lost and thousands of companies shut down.

The current economic landscape may seem bleak, but there are opportunities to be found. In fact, more than half of Fortune 500 companies were started in recessions. When the economy is under pressure and unemployment is high, talented employees can be hired more easily. New companies are able to lease space and build products at lower cost. And the Federal Reserve’s recent monetary easing policies are keeping loan and credit-card rates low.

So, while it may be tough out there, now is a great time to be thinking about setting your business on a durable growth trajectory. One area worth exploiting – for businesses large and small – is mobile commerce. Phones, once useful only for placing calls and sending text messages, are now capable of browsing the web, watching movies, playing games and shopping. In addition, there are a bevy of start-ups tackling the challenges of mobile payment processing.

The number of firms serving mobile merchants has exploded over the last few years. But the mobile commerce market is just getting going. Remember where the internet was in 1995? That’s where we are right now in the mobile industry.

If you have not set up a mobile storefront for your business, it’s not too late. In fact, the timing may be just right, as the idea of making purchases from a mobile device is beginning to penetrate the buying public’s consciousness.

Here are a few tips to get started in mobile commerce:

Establish a Website That Can Be Put to Work

Already have an e-commerce-enabled website? Great! You can skip to the next tip.

If your business lacks a functional e-commerce portal, now is the time to get one set up. Consider using a platform like Shopify, which allows businesses to purchase all-in-one web and mobile commerce solutions at a very competitive rate. If you need to build both e-commerce and mobile storefronts at the same time – or if your current website leaves something to be desired – it could make sense to consolidate your efforts with Shopify’s help.

Set Up a Mobile Platform

You’ve got a website you’re happy with, so give yourself a pat on the back. But is your business truly mobile-enabled? If the answer is no, consider layering a mobile commerce platform on top of the site you have now. One well-reviewed solution – available to users of e-commerce software VP-ASP – is VP-Cart Mobile. It offers both a payment platform and a content management system, so it’s ideal for businesses that are looking to optimize both inventory management and fulfillment.

While VP-ASP does come with a license fee, VP-Cart Mobile is free. And the entire product is hosted on the web, so it offers the same functionality on both PCs and mobile devices.

Promote Your Efforts

Other RingCentral Connect contributors have written extensively about how social media can amplify one’s message, so I won’t belabor the point. Suffice it to say that social is hugely powerful for spreading information and attracting attention. For that reason, it should definitely be in the arsenal of anyone hoping to get their mobile commerce efforts off the ground!

One of the principal benefits of social – its scale – also presents a challenge. How do you know which social channels to target? The answer is, it depends. Take a close look at your target customers – what are they interested in? Where do they spend their time online? You don’t want to take a shotgun approach (i.e., have a presence on any and every social network) – instead, really strive to focus your efforts on the channels that will deliver the most value to you.

The mobile commerce phenomenon is just beginning. So think seriously about settting up a mobile-friendly storefront to begin capturing this (rapidly growing) segment of the market!

Featured photo courtesy of alles-schlumpf via photopin cc.