Sunday, September 16, 2007

Who is the mCommerce user in India?

This question has been raised by many, who are trying their luck (and sweat) in this field. I'm talking about services like shopping, ticketing and bill payments. They put up items during events, promote to subscribers through SMS and WAP pushes. A small section of users promoted responds and even smaller sub section actually transacts. They have been trying this for the last one and half years and success has not really been gate crashing. On the brighter side, some services - particularly ticketing has a pretty high repeat usage. So who's the user who is buying and who's not? Here's my understanding.

  1. Social status:
    The browser: Mostly belongs to the middle class. That's the user who uses the value added services provided by mobile operators - to download tones & wallpapers, lured by quick money in contests, to browse for entertainment and may be to show off status.

    The purchaser: The mShopping user is mostly upper middle class. Has a credit card. Browses but not very often - out of curiousity, novelity.

    The upper class rarely uses value added services, at least not today as most of the current value added services today are not the type and quality required by this class.

  2. Internet exposure:
    The browser: Most are exposed to internet - but do not have access to it all the time. They haven't made purchases on internet and either don't have credit cards or are not comfortable using it.

    The purchaser: Is internet savvy, has positive attitude towards online commerce, has made purchases on internet and is comfortable doing so on mobile. Also is more innovative and has trust in own capability of chosing the right product online. Motive of using mobile is convenience, sometimes urgency and sometimes may be novelty and curiousity.

  3. Education:
    The browser: Can read and understand english. But can not speak or write fluently. Is sometimes scared with the complexity of e-commerce/m-commerce application compared to simple click and download.

    The purchaser: Is well educated, reads and writes fluently. Knows how to find way around in a e-commerce, m-commerce application.

  4. Gender:
    Both browser and purchaser: Mostly male. Probably men are more utilitarian and women more hedonistic. Men are comfortable making purchase decisions without touching and feeling.
On a side note, what should we be doing to improve usage?
  1. Mobile usage is primarily push based. It is not an easy channel to browse. The user must be pushed the right content.
  2. Since it has to be pushed based, it needs to be highly personalized. So will personal products make more sense? May be medicines? Cosmetics? Food choice? Knowledge of past purchase will also be very useful e.g. type of movie watched, class of ticket booked, routes, etc.
  3. Items should be a mix of low price and normal price. The low price is to convert some of the browsers to purchasers. Billing through the operator may also be attractive to this section. Effective customer support is key in early adoption stage.

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