Consumers often engage in multichannel browsing, but on average do little or no e-commerce through mobile. In turn, retailers have spent surprisingly little investment to enter the mobile commerce sphere, and it's difficult to sa

y which fault comes first. But Multichannel Merchant's Ted Hoy has deemed it "Time to Jump Into the M-commerce Ring," because this is where the growth can potentially occur at the highest levels, if given the proper encouragement.

M-commerce is in its infancy, Hoy continues. "While there are some benefits to learning from mobile commerce trendsetters, businesses serious about embracing new technology and attracting next generation consumers need to act now to diversify their multichannel sales strategies by testing the mobile commerce waters." Whether ready or not, companies will see that the market is becoming more ready to accept a robust mobile market: Four times as many mobile phones shipped worldwide as compared to the number of personal computers and mobile sales and usage are both increasing.

The disparity between potential demand and retailer action is not for lack of resources. If a business already has a Web site, often their e-commerce provider can implement a mobile version. As Hoy explains, "many Web providers are now introducing advanced mobile commerce systems that simply plug into existing online stores." These features determine if a customer is accessing the site from a mobile device, and only enable more relevant features on the site. This provides a consistent shopping experience and helps with company branding.

Key strategies include keeping mobile consistent with larger business goals and keeping abreast of developments such as augmented reality. For reaching a larger audience, Hoy recommends an m-commerce site over a brand smartphone application. For a more sophisticated shopping experience, he recommends developing the app, though by nature they reach a smaller group due to being platform specific.