For advisors, it pays to know major business trends that will impact how markets will be shaped in the years to come. One change they need to keep their eyes on is how mobile commerce is creating new ways to buy goods and services, and it is transforming traditional purchasing methods.

Presenting at a recent Boston Business Journal event, Nitzan Shaer, managing partner and co-founder of High Start Group (and the person that founded the mobile product group at Skype), said, "Mobile commerce will have a seismic impact on retail. If banks and retailers do not change, they will die."

Before he spoke, Christopher McIntosh, publisher of the Boston Business Journal, opened the event and shared several interesting mobile facts:

   87% of the world's population has a mobile phone. (Source: Mashable)
   Mobile commerce was born in 1997 when the first two mobile-phone enabled Coca Cola vending machines were installed in the Helsinki area in Finland. (Source: Wikipedia)
   Mobile commerce grew about 150% to 200% last year. (Source: TBI Research)
   38% of smartphone owners have used their phone to make a purchase at least once. (Source: comScore)
   20% of all consumers and 32% of 18-34 year olds are researching purchases via mobile at least monthly. (Source: ATG, Inc.)
   In 2015, $119 billion worth of goods and services will be purchased via mobile phones. (Source: ABI Research)

Transformation Is Already Taking Place

The way many people shop has already changed. "In 2013 and 2014 we are going to see mobile commerce take off in an impressive way," Shaer said. As it is, American consumers have altered their behavior. Shaer showed that 90% of mobile web searches result in action (e.g. purchases, store visits, etc.)

He also explained the impact price checking apps like Amazon Price Check, RedLaser (bought by eBay) and are having. Consumers are researching in stores with their handheld devices to be able to confirm they are getting the best product and price. If they do not like the reviews, they will not make a purchase. If they do not like the price, they will go to another local store where it is cheaper, buy it online or in some cases request the store they are in to match the competitor pricing.

The changes do not stop there. "Mobile commerce is disrupting every stage of the customer life cycle," said Shaer. In a short time, mobile commerce is set to eclipse desktop commerce, becoming a bigger part of ecommerce, as a whole. Shaer pointed out that with the use of mobile technologies, online and offline purchasing are actually merging together.

"Mobile will eclipse what we see as ecommerce today," Shaer said. Thus, mobile commerce will have an even bigger percentage of the $3 trillion in goods and services sold each year.

As goods and services continue to be commoditized, it will be interesting to see how local stores with brick and mortar expenses will compete with the low-price providers such as Amazon.

Beyond Price Shopping
Mobile commerce will help with awareness, interest and conversions. It can increase sales and loyalty, by having the ability to pop up specials while one is in a store and even cross sell other products when an individual is researching items in a store. As data is collected, the offerings can be personalized to the consumer, making them even more effective. Shaer explained that advertisers will pay a lot to advertise at these times when consumers are most ready to make a purchase.

Mobile payments with firms like LevelUp, Square and Barclaycard allow for fascinating things to happen, like providing incentives for behaviors and tracking how many times consumers come back.

Self checkout functionality from firms like AisleBuyer (Intuit) and Modiv Media can help simplify the in-store purchasing.

Google Goggles allows the online experience to overlay the real world creating an augmented or virtual reality. When one holds up handheld device showing something like a city street, it overlays what businesses are being seen, providing website information and more.

Shaer highlighted Starbucks, Staples and Target as firms that are great in the mobile adoption. He sees people will scan barcodes of products folks already own at home or at work when they need to replenish their supplies.

Direct Impacts On The Financial Services Industry
Check scans, where an image is taken on a mobile device, securely deposits funds in an account, is an example of real world business activities merging with online services. For banks, card issuers and payment solutions, mobile payments are a true threat to loose payment revenue. "There are 138 experiments (in this area) going on in the United States," said Shaer.

One attendee asked about security and quoted a recent Boston Globe article that stated half of our personal credit card information has been compromised. Shaer explained that mobile payments can be even more secure, as the store employees never even see the card information, like they do now. It was shocking to hear he thinks the U.S. is less secure with credit card information than other countries. "Trust is a big word in mobile," said Shaer, explaining the need for it to be for mobile commerce to take off in the future.

Mobile And Social Media Go Hand In Hand
The increased use of mobile devices in commerce will drive even more social sharing. On one side, this 'viral storm' will help create awareness for businesses. On the other hand, it will put pressure on businesses to deliver excellent products and services or be held accountable in a public forum. "Social media puts pressure on the retailers to perform well, because if not, the impact of that will be immediate."

Shaer stated that website hits from mobile devices doubled from January. 2011 to January 2012. He also said, "60% of people sleep with the phone one foot from them. They are always with it." He reminded attendees, "Mobile has the potential to be bigger than ecommerce itself. Businesses need to adapt. Five years down the road the marketing of today will be barbaric."

In a follow-up conversation with Shaer, he said, "This is going to be game changing." That mean the strategy of retailers, banks and advertisers need to evolve.

Despite these eye-opening statistics, Mashable reports that eight out of ten websites are not mobile optimized. Is yours?

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. Read more at