The Road to Motion Commerce

by Net Future Institute on March 19, 2013

Mobile commerce has the potential to become more physical.

As technology evolves and more motion capabilities are included in smartphones and tablets, innovators no doubt will find ways to incorporate these features into the purchasing process.

For example, many consumers already are comfortable with the Bump app, which lets users exchange information like files and photos by bumping two phones together. Some phones with NFC (near field communication) come with this capability built in to the phone itself.

Using a phone is becoming more physical.

When the contacts list is opened in Samsung’s Galaxy S3, tapping the top of the phone twice brings the list back to the beginning.  Shaking the phone updates it and putting it down, turned over, mutes sounds and incoming calls.

The coming Samsung Galaxy S4 detects when a person is looking at the phone and can behave accordingly. Hand gestures can scroll pages.

In all these cases, consumer behavior is changing so that individuals do more physically with their phones.

It’s only a matter of time before such physical phone activities move to retail.

Square already has taught millions of people to move their phones in front of a pay terminal, such as those at thousands of Starbucks.

I can picture sales associates armed with smartphones and tablets sharing information with mobile shoppers, by bumping, tapping or swiping devices together.

Watching an on-screen video demonstration could be paused when the customer changes view to check out the actual product, resuming when looking back to the screen. You get the idea.

The motion-commerce evolution will take some time, since consumers still have to learn and adapt to the realities of the new mobile capabilities.

At a conference recently, I watched two attendees keep tapping their phones together, so I finally asked what they were doing. They said they were attempting to exchange contact information by bumping their phones.

One had an iPhone with the Bump app loaded, the other had a Samsung Galaxy S3 with NFC built in. He had seen the Samsung TV commercial where a family taps their phones together for phone-to-phone video transfer.

From each person’s perspective, information on the respective phones should have been shared.

It’s a process.

  Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.

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