I am pleased to announce that the inaugural Forrester Wave evaluation of mobile commerce solution providers is now live!

Mobile commerce is hot – In fact for Pizza Hut, it’s so hot that approximately 50% of all digital orders come from mobile and tablet devices. Beyond impulse purchases like pizza and cinema tickets, mobile commerce is now firmly established as a significant source of revenue growth for almost all online retailers. Last year Forrester forecasted that 5% of total online revenues would occur through mobile devices in 2013, but by the close of the year, many online retailers such as HSN are reporting that mobile revenues have in-fact broken the 10% threshold and, furthermore, some retail clients have told us that revenues via mobile devices have already reached 20% of total online sales during peak days. 

With the mobile stakes now elevated, the technology solutions used to support transactional mobile sites and apps today may not provide the scalability or flexibility required to stay ahead of the innovation curve tomorrow. Some eBusiness teams have developed their mobile technology in-house, while others have outsourced to their digital agency or eCommerce platform vendor, but approximately a third of all eBusiness teams have chosen to work with a commercial solution partner for all or part of the technology, development, and/or ongoing support of their mobile websites and mobile apps. Forrester refers to these vendors as mobile commerce solution providers.

So, What Exactly Is A Mobile Commerce Solution Provider?

The vendors we evaluated represent the leading edge of mobile commerce innovation and technology. They are neither pure technology solutions nor pure agencies in the traditional manner. Instead they are hybrids — solution providers that bring together a productized mobile technology platform with creative and strategy services honed on the optimization of mobile commerce metrics. The value proposition for eBusiness leaders is the ability to source best-of-breed technology and creative and strategy services from a single vendor without paying through the nose. Mobile commerce solution providers typically have four core competency traits:

  1. An obsession for mobile commerce trends and metrics. The best of these vendors do not just build and support mobile technology; they live and breathe mobile commerce — it's in their DNA. This means they are at the forefront of what works and what doesn't when it comes to how mobile experiences support conversion metrics.
  2. A continually evolving, common platform on which they support all of their clients. Unlike traditional agencies, these vendors are not building tailored capabilities for each client. Instead they onboard all of their clients onto a common (often software-as-a-service [SaaS] based) platform.
  3. They are fast to adopt and bring to market new device capabilities. The best of these vendors are quick to build support for new OS capabilities (e.g., Apple's Passbook), new device categories (e.g., 7-inch tablets), and emerging mobile development standards (e.g., HTML5 and responsive design) into their platforms.
  4. They have a portfolio of prebuilt commerce modules. When working with a mobile commerce solution provider, there should be no need to reinvent the wheel. These vendors have prebuilt tried and tested modules that support both common and less mainstream mobile commerce scenarios.

In our search to identify the top vendors in this space, we evaluated vendors across 75 critiera. The 10 vendors that we evaluated were all able to demonstrate:

  1. A significant focus on providing mobile commerce solutions for multichannel retailers
  2. The ability to support commerce experiences across multiple touchpoints (mobile, tablet, in-store kiosks, etc)
  3. A productized platform for repeatable delivery and ongoing upgrades
  4. A profitable or stable business with at least $5 million in revenues and client momentum
  5. Interest from Forrester clients

To see how the 10 vendors – Branding Brand, July Systems, Kony, Mad Mobile, Merkle 5th Finger, Mobify, Moovweb, Netbiscuits, Skava, and Usablenet – stacked up, please read the report. It is important to remember that this research is intended to be a starting point only and I encourage clients to review the detailed product evaluations and adapt the 75 criteria weightings to fit their individual needs through the Forrester Wave's Excel-based vendor comparison tool (the link is in the right-hand column under the Tools & Templates heading). These vendors were not all created equal. Each has specific strenghts, weaknesses and areas of expertise. As such I also encourage clients to leverage their Inquiry access to learn more about these vendors before embarking on a selection process.

Thanks and have a great New Year.