The many factors necessary for mobile commerce to succeed are finally converging at the start of the 2013 holiday shopping season.
"The combination of handsets, network flexibility, and retailers simplifying apps for use across multiple devices has made it much easier for people to go to market," says Matthew Talbot, senior vice president of mobile commerce for SAP Mobile.
A major barrier to mobile commerce was lifted when the price of smartphones began to decline this year and networks introduced the 4G speed, Talbot says. Germany's SAP operates internationally in providing payment system technology for various industries.
Last week, various research outlets reported high volume and percentage increases for online and mobile transactions during the "Cyber Five" period of days starting with Thanksgiving and continuing through Cyber Monday this year compared to 2012.
Some of the gaudy numbers reflect the fact that more retailers jumped into the holiday show early this season with Thanksgiving bargains.
First Data's Holiday SpendTrend report cited the effect Thanksgiving shopping had overall on the first two days of shopping, showing a 9 percent increase year-over-year in retail dollar volume growth, with only 3.4 percent of that growth occurring on Black Friday.
First Data acknowledged promotional campaigns, seamless integration of in-store, online and mobile initiatives and earlier store openings helped increase retail spending.
It all points to retailers' embracing the mobile tools at their disposal, Talbot says. The way retailers can now target consumers represents possibly the biggest change for mobile transactions compared to previous years.
"Direct-to-one digital marketing, rather than direct-to-thousands, has been the biggest change for retailers," Talbot says. "Data comes together on the back end of systems that is relevant to the customer, and merchants can take advantage quickly through mobile messages and loyalty programs."
Retailers have also made efforts to develop one-click payments in their shopping apps, he says.
"It really started with bankers getting customers to use online and mobile banking and then moving to person-to-person money transfers," Talbot says of the spread of mobile transactions.
During that process, banks discovered that about 30 percent of their customers start a payment online with a desktop PC and move to a mobile device to complete it, Talbot says.
"Consumers are now using multiple devices during the day and browsing, searching and transacting on those devices," Talbot says.
Retailers who understand that phenomenon have adapted their apps to make it easier for consumers to choose products and make payments on any device they use, he adds.
Consumers don't see the Internet as being different, regardless of what device they are using on the Web, says Richard Oglesby, senior analyst and mobile pay expert with Boston-based Aite Group. Now, merchants are figuring out how to make their websites consistent across all Internet-connected devices, he says.
"In the past, you could start a shopping cart online on your desktop computer, but it was too clunky to finish it on your mobile device at another time," Oglesby says.
Oglesby views this year's holiday shopping numbers for mobile devices as the start of something that will only get larger.
"We're going to continue to see this kind of shift [to smartphones and tablets], at least until everyone is shopping with wearable computers at some point," Oglesby says.