In the Short Run, Mobile Influence Will Outshine Mobile Commerce

It’s fashionable to think of mobile payments as a “chicken & egg” problem, in which merchants and consumers are waiting on one another before launching full bore into the m-payments fray. But what if that idea is wrong? What if there is some other factor that drives one group out ahead of the other, forcing the follower to catch up quickly?

Without a whole lot of fanfare, that may be what’s happening. Consumers, it turns out, are using mobile devices to figure out when to buy, where to buy and even what to pay, even if they have to reach for a credit card or cash to complete the transaction. It’s called mobile influenced commerce, and it’s becoming a really big deal.

The consulting firm Deloitte has a new study out saying that in 2012, mobile influenced commerce will top out at $31 billion, but by 2016 — four years from now — will account for $689 billion in sales.  That’s more than a 2,000% increase in spending by consumers who use mobile devices to locate merchants, check product availability, compare product features, read product reviews, shop prices or get recommendations from friends.The gap between actual mobile commerce and mobile influenced commerce is huge, but retailers who are writing for consumers to be ready for mobile commerce and mobile payments should take note: consumers are way ahead when it comes to mobile.