What’s the Future of Mobile Commerce?.

Over my career, I’m continually engaging with clients and brands that are challenged with the new shifts in the ecosystem, the shifts in physicality, modality, the shifts in consumer behaviors and psychology, the shifts in brand conversations and dialogue in a world that’s at the top really powered by new Cloud platforms, analytical insights, mobility, and in a social context. These four amazing forces come together to actually challenge these brands in a whole new world.

One interesting challenge I get is what is the future for mobile commerce. Is there a future for mobile commerce? My answer is quite simple. I live in Southeast Asia in Singapore. Probably we could argue the economics of the region. We are surrounded by multiple countries with greater than 50, 60, 70 million people. We have Indonesia, 250 million. India, a billion people. Philippines, up to 90 million. Huge markets. If you look at them in very basic levels, they are excluded on two key core instruments.

One is financial instruments, key for actually playing in an e-commerce world. We are seeing fantastic progress in the likes of Flipkart, running a cash and delivery model. We’ve seen other chances through MOL, particularly in the virtual goods space in Indonesia. The second part is actually having the device to actually engage. We are seeing particularly in Indonesia is mobile becomes the choice for internet. In fact, recent statistics show that Indonesia actually has the highest pages per capita, mobile webpages per capita consumed on the planet. They’re a mobile-first country and 250 million people.

An interesting thing really changed and that’s this device. Most people know that I’ve become a recently high-profile champion of the Xiaomi brand. It’s not that I love Xiaomi though all that well. It’s what it stands for. Don’t get me wrong. There’s been an abundance of cheap Chinese phones hitting the market in the last decade. We’ve seen $20 3G phones. We’re seeing smartphones at a price point that just didn’t seem competitive, but they never withstand the market. Every time I’d get to the street level, whether it would be India or Pakistan or Indonesia or Malaysia, and you talk about a clone of a certain Nokia or a clone of an iPhone or a clone of the Note 3.

The challenge of these devices really is subject to those four components — Cloud, analytics, mobile and social. Social is the last one which kills them. These Chinese brands haven’t got to the point of quality and reliability that allows them to actually get the brand investment from society, the positive brand investment. That means that it becomes almost like a proof point in society that their brand is worth trusting.

The Xiaomi brand actually has come to the market with a decent product. It’s a dual-SIM phone which applies and appeals to most of those markets. Secondly it actually gives them an almost Samsung-like Android phone experience, but a fraction of the cost. This one sells for 150 US Dollars. That’s 2000 Pesos in the Philippines or 7000 Rupees in India.

Here’s the number for you. Remember the question was, “What is the future of e-commerce and mobile commerce?” Just this device alone at the price point that it comes to the market in, 480 million new mobile commerce consumers. I don’t know which industry you’re in, but 480 million is very, very hard to ignore. Four hundred eighty million, even just a small percentage of that. Services, product, e-com, digital goods, just a small percentage of that is a huge business by any given yardstick.

What is the future of e-commerce and m-commerce? It really is. As new inclusive instruments, smartphones or accessible financial instruments come together, you have amazing new markets, even just here in Southeast Asia and South Asia.

© Scott Bales 2014. All Rights Reserved.