Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Look out, SMS! High Risk Merchants' Guide to New Trends in Mobile E-Commerce

What does mobility mean to you?

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Short Message Service (SMS). I hate punching on the small RAZR alphanumeric keyboard and I hate doing it a fifty-five times a day. But I have friends that do it effortlessly, and my hats are off to them. I don't mind sending text messages to my folks and colleagues as long as I'm in the mood for a little bit of sacrifice. I don't think it's atypical of me at all. It's just that I'd rather make a quick call than take forever to send a TM to the president of the socks-shoes company.

SMS: The New E-Commerce Cult?

But how convenient can a single text message be! It's cheap, it's fast, and it certainly is hip. In most underdeveloped countries, text messaging is simply an excellent way to communicate without having to spend sevenfold for a local call. And there are so many ways to pull off a TM these days. You can use Yahoo SMS, register at Chikka (hey if you haven't heard of it, come out of the cave, will ya?), or use Verizon's onsite TM service. What I like about it is that 90% of the time the TM reaches your recipient pronto. Two billion subscribers sending out their voices to people they know without having to spend for more than a dime per TM.

Now, veering off a little from the track, we can spot the E-COMMERCE sign on the turnpike. Or better yet, the M-COMMERCE. What exactly does the road sign mean? Most mobile operators have done their share of advertising to consumers with the help of mobile phones. I wouldn't say it's as hardcore as traditional media like TV, radio, newspaper, and the Internet, but I'd say that because it's a powerful and snowballing communication medium these days, it has a huge potential for marketing. Online merchants can take advantage of creating a bridge between mobile phones and the Internet to increase their sales. And a great percentage of the market remains untapped.

How Mobile Phones Can Help High Risk Merchants

Although I sympathize with mobile operators undergoing through hurdles in order to profit from mobile advertising, I would like to focus on the emerging trends that affect e-commerce in general. For one, high risk merchants can easily jump into the possibilities that one day, any kind of service or product can be advertised on the mobile phone. Whether it's through the service provider self-generated ads or WAP, that will be the question.

Another thing is that online consumers who may or may not be able to log in to the Internet using their mobile phones can easily pay their bills and purchases if this mobile phone billing phenomenon takes off. Now that's some real mojo high risk merchants should look forward to happening. Why? Because once that happens, it will be as prevalent as credit card processing online (with or without the help of merchant accounts). As long as the payment process is secure for customers, they will be able to shop on virtual stores through their mobile phones, pay through the online shopping cart through their mobile phones, and manage their credit and other banking activities through their mobile phones. They can do that wherever they are in the world. Nothing could be easier.

First Things First!

If these trends develop, the future of mobile buying, selling, and banking looks rosy. In fact, that might even convince me that SMS is not so bad (in other words, way, way excellent). I have been communicating with people I know through SMS anyways. In the future, you and I will find it so essential that we may not be able to take a morning shower without first checking if Wells Fargo had really transferred some five thousand dollars onto our checking account. Or not.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How Much Do You Know About Online Shopping Today?

Doing It The buySAFE Way
In the last online meet-up that I had attended to I had been informed by my colleagues that, well, e-commerce is drastically taking the next big step when it comes to security and purchasing power for online shoppers. See, our concern here is not merely focused on low risk or high risk merchants, but for online customers who are the bread and butter of this business. The question is always, how do customers find merchants that they can trust and what else can the new breed of e-commerce vendors can offer them?

BuySAFE: The New Authority in Merchant Security?

The next big step that I'm talking about has something to do with security in which buySAFE plays a big role. What is buySAFE? It's essentially an emerging authority when it comes to making sure the online stores you are buying your goods from are legit, reliable, and safe. I'm sure all of us would rather buy in the safest places we could if we can help it. Checking out to see if a store has buySAFE seal is a good guarantee that a merchant isn't a mere scammer or a poser. Online merchants have to undergo rigorous buySAFE Certification Process to ensure that they are doing legit and trustworthy business. The test doesn't go from there, as buySAFE also monitors merchants' performance on a regular per transaction basis.

I wouldn't have to emphasize how much relief it would cause online shoppers to go through their favorite virtual shops knowing these shops are doing good business, as long as they have passed the buySAFE test. Low risk and high risk merchants, on the other hand, would be egged to strive in raising the quality of their service, products, and general business status to attract as many customers as they can.

buySAFE has reportedly teamed up with open source (online shopping cart) software application providers and a few more security programs to raise e-commerce standards. Nothing could be more beneficial. These open source shopping carts include osCommerce and CubeCart. All online merchants have to do is download the module that buySAFE provides for free and guarantee customers of safe transaction through buySAFE's bond.

Google: Peddling in 12 Tongues

Now who says doing web business overseas is a boon only to offshore merchants? From online shopping security we hop to Google's new translation marketing gimmick that goes like this: You as an American online shopper (for example) who's spending a week's vacation in Rio de Janeiro forgot to buy your snorkeling gear but couldn't quite figure out what store in Rio you could pick out your favorite snorkeling gear brand at. All you need to do is type your search in English and click "Portuguese" so Google will translate the search results for you. Good enough? Not yet. The program comes only in 12 languages and is still in the beta stage. But watch out! As I've mentioned earlier, doing business offshore isn't just something high risk merchants banking outside of the U.S. can take advantage of. It's also something online buyers from any part of the world can now participate in, thanks to Google's shrewd online marketing programmers' cutting edge ideas. Bravo!