Shopping on my Phone?

I get using my mobile phone to buy ring-tones, games, and maybe even movie tickets, but a New York Times article posted the following question: would you be comfortable using your phone to purchase big-ticket items?

High%20Tech_4.jpg_lores.jpgComfortable in terms of security? Sure; I think security has come a long way. But why would I since its so much easier to use a PC (or a Mac) with a wide screen and a keyboard that has a dedicated key for every letter in the alphabet? The article references research sponsored by Billing Revolution, a mobile payment provider, and includes some quotes from their co-founder, Michael Dulong.

Dulong: “If I could save myself a trip to Home Depot on Saturday using my mobile phone, I would be single-clicking myself to a frenzy.”

Seriously? Why would anyone use their mobile phone to buy from Home Depot? I might use their e-commerce site to buy things not stocked in the store, but not from my phone. I think purchases on the phone will be about "living in the moment." Things that I need now, not things that will be shipped to my house in a few days.

Dulong: “What if you could order a CD and T-shirt from the concert you’re attending and have it shipped to your home, without even going to the concession stand? That’s big.”

Not really. Again, if its going to be shipped to my home I'd rather wait until the morning and order it using my PC. Now if I could easily order it on my phone, skip the long line, and pick it up immediately then I'd consider it. Again, m-commerce purchases are about immediate gratification.

Now don't mistake my critical eye for a dislike of m-commerce altogether. I think mobile phones are great for product comparisons, research, payment, product location, etc. I just think purchases via mobile phones have limited value. Am I wrong here?


Once in a while sure, I would and I have been buying stuff but statistically still insignificant. I feel pretty comfortable buying on amazon from its iphone app, other online stores probably not so much. Recently I discovered a great amazon deal on harmony 890 remotes from a gizmodo rss feed, I actually know everything about it and I bought it right away from the phone to not miss the deal.
So I think there might be cases at least I would use my phone to shop.

Posted by Kiran on May 28, 2009 at 07:16 AM PDT #

David, you just have to get older ;-)

Sometimes I keep forgetting to order something, and I'm out and about, and something or someone reminds me to do it, and then I go ahead and order it right there. Otherwise, I'd just have to create a calendar entry or send myself a text message reminder and order it the next day. Too many steps.

A big ticket item is a different story. If I forget to buy a washing machine, I deserve whatever I get!

Seriously, I am amazed how much my smartphone has eliminated the need for me to carry around a computer. And my smartphone feels as personal as my computer (only lighter!).

Posted by Paula Rosenblum on May 28, 2009 at 10:45 AM PDT #

Often when I'm traveling I don't even need to boot my laptop because my smartphone does what I need. I can't imagine living without it anymore. I suppose if I forget to buy flowers on Mother's Day, or if I need to act fast on a popular item it could come in handy. But other than those corner cases, I'll stick with my PC.

Posted by David on May 28, 2009 at 11:04 AM PDT #

In the next few years pc's will be hand held phones. I can't wait for the future to come because the technology will be so advanced it will put today's technology to shame.

Posted by debt relief on May 29, 2009 at 07:09 AM PDT #

Hi David
M-commerce is certainly going to be one of those differentiators between retailers.
In some parts of the world, customers still need a live & personal interface with the retailer. The reasons for success of m-com in such markets would be how the savings of such an operating model is passed onto the customer.
Imagine - on a big enough mobile screen - a customer could do a walk-thru of a virtual house / room w/out the retailer actually spending money constructing the same on a retail floor.

Posted by Raghu on May 30, 2009 at 05:14 PM PDT #


Some great points and thoughts. I think m-commerce has to be different from e-commerce. I think you gave examples where it can be useful - purchase/pay ahead of time but pick-up immediately. If m-commerce is merely a duplicate of e-commerce - shop, add to cart, check-out, bill, ship 2-3 days later, then maybe not. This is a growing smart phone world we are living in and it is natural that more and more online activity will be pushed to the phone. The questions is how will that benefit the consumer? There have to be new and innovative ways to use smart phones to make our life easier.

Posted by Rick Boretsky on May 30, 2009 at 09:42 PM PDT #

I think Rick's comment is worth highlighting: m-commerce has to be different from e-commerce. That's the key. When m-commerce tries to duplicate e-commerce it will fail. The good news is there's plenty of room to differentiate by taking advantage of the mobile platform's capabilities.

Posted by David on May 31, 2009 at 10:06 PM PDT #

Yes sure I would, especially when I am on the move!

Posted by Luxury Jobs on June 01, 2009 at 05:26 AM PDT #

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