Online auction giant eBay recently announced that it has generated $380m in sales through its mobile commerce channel, showing the potential value of m-commerce for retailers.

The figures are interesting, especially as other large retailers such as Amazon have yet to reveal their mobile commerce sales, and shows that enough shoppers are prepared to make purchases on their mobiles to make it worthwhile for retailers.

Mobile commerce is still very much in the early stages of its evolution, and the vast majority of retailers are yet to launch transactional mobile sites. Recent stats suggested that 7% of online retailers in the US have a mobile commerce site, and while I don’t have similar figures for the UK, I can only think of four or five examples in this country.

Recent consumer surveys have also indicated some desire on the part of consumers to buy from their mobiles, with 71% feeling safe to buy via mobile, and  digital content and consumer electronics among the most popular mobile purchases.

According to Nielsen, 9m mobile subscribers have paid for goods and services via mobile, but this only represents a small proportion (3.6%) of mobile subscribers. There is still much room for growth.

One of the reasons for eBay’s m-commerce success is the fact that it has designed the mobile site (and iPhone app) to be very easy to use for mobile customers.

A number of mobile sites and apps look good, but fail to design a checkout process that makes it easy to complete purchases on a mobile phone. The eBay mobile site avoids this mistake by designing a specialist checkout for mobile phones, while others like Amazon and the recently released Barnes & Noble app offer excellent examples of how it should be done.

One thing holding this growth back at the moment is the lack of mobile
commerce options for consumers; there are plenty of big name retailers
yet to enter the mobile market. The success of eBay should demonstrate the potential of mobile commerce for any doubters.