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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mobile Commerce Solutions Combine Virtual Store and In-Store Experiences

This blog compares Mobile Commerce Solutions provided by Paypal (an eBay Company),  Madmobile, Google (Wallet and Checkout), Digby  and Usablenet.




Paypal (an eBay Company)


A recent announcement from eBay (which owns PayPal) laid out its ambitious Mobile Commerce plans.

Imagine walking into a brick-and-mortar store such as IKEA, Lowe’s, or even the neighborhood grocery store and purchasing a brand new book case, a refrigerator, or a gallon of milk with your mobile phone, and then walking out with your merchandise without standing in a checkout line. You could apply your coupons and gift cards, which are stored in your electronic wallet in your smartphone. In addition, you could also see offers based on your precise location – that is, not just the store you are in at the moment but also the section or aisle you are standing at! Your phone would also alert you if any of your friends has recently bought an item from that aisle or registered a negative experience from that store.

It may sound unrealistic, but that scene is exactly what PayPal is envisioning as they plan to bring the virtual world of mobile payments to the physical stores through their electronic wallets. As reported by eBay’s CEO Ruben Donahoe during eBay’s recent earning announcement, PayPal will be rolling out an in-store payment service using mobile wallet at a major but still unnamed U.S. retail chain. Donahoe said he expects this particular in-store payment service to be available at twenty large retailers across the United States in the next twelve months.

Watch the Video below to see a demo of Paypal's vision of the future: 


Of course, not all the details on how their own particular systems would work have been completely answered by either Google or PayPal. For instance, there is still the question of how consumers would transfer the value of a gift card into the digital wallet but the company does seem to have a powerful vision.


MadMobile 

MadMobile can “mobilize” an existing website, allowing your mobile site to display the same content as the  site when viewed from a browser running on a desk top or a laptop, but in a format optimized for mobile browsing. They also offer a separate service for optimizing for tablets vs. optimizing for smartphones. They integrate Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare into your site to encourage interactivity and viral activity for your brand. And they let you run mobile messaging campaigns via mobile alerts, text to win, text voting, sent to phone, mobile coupons, and mobile clubs.

Digby

Digby’s focus is not on bringing the store to the mobile user; it focuses on bringing the mobile user to the physical store. It has products that allow you to offer potential customers a unique “Deal of the Day” when and where it is most logical for the customer to receive them, depending on the time they are near a store and which store they are closest to. If they are already in the store, the notifications will depend on where they are at the store: entering, browsing, paying, or exiting.  Now, should the customer wish to make the purchase right where they are (like at home or in the office), they can do so through the Digby Localpoint Storefront, which lets people browse a store’s products, make payments, read and leave ratings and reviews, and find the closest brick-and-mortar store, right from their mobile device.

Google Wallet (which now includes Google Checkout): 


Not to be left behind, Google has also announced that its new and ambitious Google Wallet is absorbing the old Google Checkout; the company now appears to be heading in the same path that PayPal is taking, that is, covering purchases made in both the virtual and physical world. Google’s new payment system, which mixes Internet payment with mobile payment, has already been rolled out to consumers with the launch of Google music, where the system may be used to purchase music over a browser on a PC, a laptop, or a smartphone powered by Android. Google customers will enjoy single sign-in for purchasing virtual and physical goods using Google Wallet on Android smartphones. This makes all retailers that have incorporated Google Checkout (a browser-based payment module/application) also accessible to consumers holding a Google Wallet.

These innovations will certainly help Google take yet another stab at e-commerce. Its previous attempts – from Google Base and Google eBooks – have been largely unsuccessful. This will also help eBay recapture the ground lost to Amazon among small internet merchants by taking the battle to physical stores. In the virtual world, Amazon has been eating into eBay’s dominance among small-scale retailers by successfully transforming itself into an online marketplace and offering services such as “Fulfillment by Amazon,” which provide warehouse and fulfillment services to small merchants. 

Usablenet 

Usablenet takes the content and functionality of your existing ecommerce site and transforms it into a mobile site that allow you to get the same experience accessing your site from a mobile device as they would from a desktop PC. They also allow your ecommerce site to be optimized for use in in-store kiosks and tablets (as opposed to smartphones, which have much smaller screens and somewhat different navigation methods). They can even create an app that will allow people to shop for your products, book a reservation, pay for a bill, leave a review, provide feedback, and share with their friends, all without leaving Facebook.

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