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The £1m worth of sales generated on ASOS’s mobile site last month shows m-commerce is finally coming into fashion with brands beyond the usual suspects.

The concept of paying for goods via a mobile phone was conceived in the mid-1990s and pioneered by mobile content providers and ticketing providers – a natural fit on both fronts. However, the credibility of m-commerce probably suffered from premature hype.

After all, when ecommerce was still in its infancy, the thought of people buying items on their mobile phones was a complete anathema to most brands. However, as mobile internet services have begun to more readily resemble those on PC, brands have warmed to the idea. Last year saw massive strides from supermarkets on mobile, with Tesco leading the charge (nma 5 August 2010).

The current TV Tesco campaign for its barcode-scanning app demonstrates the intended user case from supermarkets: using mobile phones to purchase small items conveniently. However, ASOS’s generating over £1m in a single month just two months after it launched its m-commerce site proves that people are willing to buy more than just ringtones or apps on their mobiles. It’s also worth noting that this sum was generated by UK users alone.

When I started covering mobile four years ago, the industry was so disjointed when it came to m-commece that I never thought fashion retailers would one day generate such revenue from mobile. Other fashion retailers I’ve spoken to are positive about how mobile apps have improved interaction with customers, especially when used cleverly with social media and location, either by directing them to stores or getting them to share their interest in a product via Facebook.

For instance, both John Lewis and M&S customers are willing to buy big-ticket items on their phones. Both retailers have reported selling items in excess of £3,000 via mobile (nma.co.uk 29 September 2010).

Where people are using their phones to buy these items is immaterial. Whether they’re in a coffee shop, the office or sitting on their sofas, the message to brands is clear: investing in m-commerce will deliver.


Published 27 January, 2011 by NMA Staff

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