Sci-fi writer William Gibson famously wrote that the future is here already, it just isn’t evenly distributed yet. Anyone who works in technology will recognise the truth in that observation, not least in the fast evolving world of mobile commerce.
And it is in Asia Pacific in particular that the future has been here for well over a decade now. Back in the late ’90s Japan and South Korea created dazzling ecosystems of consumer friendly apps on quite rudimentary phones, long before the smart phones that have become so central to our lives today.
And so it remains today. Asia Pacific mobile users remain the earliest adopters, the most eager consumers of mobile services and the twitchiest smart phone addicts – pawing their devices more often than in other regions.
Asia-Pacific (APAC) mobile consumers are ahead of the rest of the world
It’s apparent to anyone riding the transport networks of Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong or any other big Asian cities and is backed up by SAP’s survey The Mobile Consumer: Insights on Asia Pacific Trends Impacting Mobile Momentum and Customer Engagement.
It found APAC consumers were much more likely than the global average to use their mobile for banking (37% vs. 29% global), for buying goods and services (37% vs. 26% global). Almost half have used their phones to buy clothes, books, entertainment, and music.
But far from being content, they expect a lot more from their phones in future, especially so in China and India home to today’s most eager mobile adopters. The survey found that 84% in APAC want more mobile interactions with banks, telcos, retailers, utilities and other businesses.
Challenges and Opportunities for M-Commerce in APAC
It’s an incredible opportunity for the businesses able to meet this demand, or better still anticipate it. In an increasingly connected world, the internet of things, big data and ever more ubiquitous connectivity the possibilities to create new products, services and entirely new categories of both are surely vast.
There seems little doubt that Asia will be a leading testing ground of such innovation and a lucrative market for those that get it right. But the survey also reveals two things consumer brands, telcos and banks must do first: make mobile commerce services easy and trustworthy.
Well over half of users said they would increase their mobile payment activity if they were more confident about personal data security and if they were given easy-to-use interfaces. They also want a greater choice of payment methods.
The challenges for banks are obvious here, but others must take note too. The mobile explosion can be a double-edged sword for retailers. While mobile commerce offers clear opportunities to grow sales, consumers are also using their phones to compare prices, do research and so become more informed and more demanding. Offering value through vouchers, a slick user experience and exclusive offers is just the start.
The survey also underlines the fact that that mobile phone is no longer the exclusive domain of the telcos, who must give customers more confidence in mobile security and also offer better value with more free minutes, texts, Web use and personalized services.
M-commerce essentials outlined
Perhaps the most important lessons all organizations can learn from the study are these:
- Securing brand loyalty is now essential as any business on the mobile browser now has the potential to own the customer relationship.
- Consumers will be increasingly influenced by service excellence over technological sophistication, making effective marketing and operational delivery essential.
- Technology companies have to become more ‘service-centric’ and service businesses (banks, retailers) have to adapt to working in a complex mobile environment.
Finally, just remind yourself that the mobility future is already here, and has been for a while.
To learn more, download the full report here or explore the interactive data visualization website: http://sapmobileconsumertrends.com/.