And 78% plan to invest in mobile in 2011.

2010 was an explosive year for mobile commerce, and new research from The E-tailing Group Inc. shows m-commerce has soared in importance among retailers since the beginning of last year.

In the first quarter of 2011, 49% of 200 merchants surveyed by the research firm said mobile initiatives were important to achieving their strategic goals. That’s up 26 percentage points from 23% in 2010, according to the “10th Annual Merchant Survey 1st Quarter 2011.”

“Consumer interest in mobile is strong and showing good adoption. Also traffic and revenue seem to be promising, and the expectations among the retail community are that they will only grow,” says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group. “Tablet traffic and purchasing is also reported to be strong among merchants I’ve interviewed and many are assessing what role tablets should play in their business.”

While merchants are saying mobile commerce is important to advancing their strategic goals, they’re making cautious investments. 39% will invest $25,000 or less in m-commerce in 2011, the survey says. 10% will invest $26,000 to $50,000; 7%, $51,000 to $75,000; 6%, $76,000 to $100,000; 4%, $101,000 to $150,000; 4%, $151,000 to $200,000; 2%, $201,000 to $350,000; and 6%, more than $350,000. 22% will not be investing in mobile commerce.

While the bulk of the merchants are on the lower end of the spectrum, it’s important to note that a retailer can build a fully transactional m-commerce site in-house or have one built by a vendor for less than $25,000. Mobile apps are a bit more expensive. So it doesn’t take much to get started in m-commerce, experts say.


“Lots of merchants want to be able to say they have an m-commerce site but aren’t looking to spend beyond what they need to,” Freedman says. “Also, requirements for this effort are also just being defined. Merchants have so many options with a broad range of pricing that erring on the side of caution is probably wise.”