Today, banks are leveraging the advantage of smartphones by combining e-commerce with m-commerce concept. With the mobile payment options, smartphones are likely to become a credit card. Near-field communications through mobile phones have succeeded in making transfer payments easier. With banking applications being developed for tablets and iPads, m-commerce is taking a big hit. The options for premium SMS, Direct mobile billing and mobile based web payments help customers to increase the usage of smartphones. The focus is reaching out to the bottom of the pyramid for financial inclusion and promote e-commerce for this segment.
The objective is simply to offer products and services without the limitations of geographical and economical barriers. Thus, normal mobile phones and especially the smartphones change the face of e-business by providing following advantages:
- Keeping customers organized
- Providing flexible working environment
- Provide greater reach
- Information given at finger points
- Being in touch through internet
- Facility of better information sharing
- Provides greater functionality
- Enhances the speed of communication
The second part is how to create an impact on e-commerce applications through smart-phones. There is a constant discussion going on for the platform to be used to display website on mobile phones, the two options available are apps built on HTML5 and native apps. The factor of richer user experience makes native apps more reliable. But when it comes to immediate updation and distribution controls, HTML5 apps prove to be more useful. HTML5 apps are more scalable and resembles closely to mini-desktop look-and-feel. Native app has an advantage of fast loading over HTML apps but HTML apps provide a single URL for the access of websites. In conclusion, native apps with HTML5 apps features will leverage customers more though mobile phones. This is a major breakthrough to reach the Bottom of the Pyramid.
E-commerce mobile design should be facilitated in such a manner that users don’t have any problems in accessing the links, scroll lists should not be too long for them to get bored and website should not take long to load. With this impact, data gathering with customer details will become much simpler. And e-commerce sites using data analytics can find the potential customers to expand the customer database and can provide customized services to existing customers to make them more loyal to particular e-business. The net outcome is better service.
The attractive market of smartphones attracted Lenovo to enter into this business. Lenovo is planning to bring smartphones in US market. Blackberry is another example where it pioneered the development of smartphones. Smartphone capabilities are constantly expanding into different segments. Location-based services are becoming increasingly popular. Social media sites also supports this service and earning large chunk of revenue through it. The famous example is of Facebook which with check-in facility provides location based service to customers. Also, second type of service emerging is mobile coupons. Push notifications allows companies to send messages directly to their app users even when they are not using it. Push notification service is useful for conveying timely information like breaking news, exclusive sales, and sport updates.
Another activity area is travel planning through these portable devices. On the road activities like searching the restaurants, checking of flight status, planning a road trip, involves smartphones to large extent. GPS devices provide the capability of tracking a location and providing the users with accurate information of the destination. E-commerce websites like TripAdvisor provide free apps for iPhone, Android, Windows; to expand their reach to customers.
But the challenge in this area lies not in technology aspects but in maintaining security, overall performance and the user experience. With the increase in advantages of smartphones, the portable computing technology welcomes potential security threats as well. The data in this area is more vulnerable to loss and leakage. The content of smartphones is largely exposed to theft and loss as network access codes, usernames and passwords are often unsecured or set for automatic log-on. Password hacks on smartphones is another serious concern in terms of security. Moreover, smartphones has a tendency to magnify malware distributions by emails, spam, phishing and pre-texting as mobile network provides more intimate channels than computers by interacting with personal files stored in phones. For this, the companies providing security apps and gateways are increasing their business reach.
Some other business challenges include the minimum security standards a company requires, operational guidelines for integrating devices into IT infrastructure if used for personal and business, how to improve knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees. For smartphones being endpoint on network, password and authorization security is much needed. It is important to establish corporate smartphone policy and to establish SSL VPN(Secure Socket Layer Virtual Private Networking) for authenticated and encrypted Web-based access to network resource from multiple smartphone OS like Android, Symbian, Blackberry , iOS. Also, Next-Generation firewall can be deployed for deep inspection of smartphone traffic traversing the SSL VPN. It is necessary to control the encryption and decryption of the traffic generated by smartphones.
Consumers also access Wi-fi accessibility through phones by connecting to unencrypted Wi-fi hotspots. It is important to have the security to be at par with wired networks that tun deep inspection methods by running traffic through comprehensive firewall. Also, it is possible to manage the traffic bandwidth on smartphones. This covers the third aspect, security, of smartphones in e-business.
The future impact of smartphones on e-commerce in summary will be:
- Smartphones will act as digital wallets for payment of bills.
- Data collection for consumers will become simpler.
- Geographical expansion will take place
- Online business and offline business will seamless merge with each other.
- Transactions through mobile will take a huge leap in future.
- With data analytics and customized service, customers will become more loyal through smartphones technology.
Mobile computing is thus the way of the future. Developers of websites and social media can consider the utility of smartphones while moving ahead with their business. Therefore, with the facility of shopping on mobile devices, accessing all range of products and easy maintenance of schedules is increasing the impact of smartphones on e-commerce. New businesses understanding the importance of this industry can leverage the opportunity to establish their presence in this competitive industry.