Are mobile phones the future of retail?

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Imagine sitting on the train in the morning reading the newspaper. You see an advertisement in the sports pages for the latest GPS device, and a message telling you to buy this product by sending a text message to Harvey Norman. Within minutes your purchase is complete and the product is being shipped to your address. This is the future of retail, according to mobile phone commerce entrepreneur and Qpay CEO Greg Walter.

Qpay is an Australian start-up that is currently in negotiations with retailers to incorporate his company’s mobile phone purchasing technology. He told Current.com.au that sales over mobile phones are set to compete with the internet for the e-dollar.

“People are buying more and more things online, who’d have thought that women would buy clothes online? It was something that was unforseen, but it’s a huge business now,” said Walter. “The opportunity for people to buy small or even large appliances online represents a great new opportunity for the appliance retailers… and by taking that to mobile there are even more advantages.”

Walter quoted research claiming that by 2014, all mobile phone commerce will have overtaken PC business. He is encouraging retailers – and that’s important here, it’s not a mode of direct selling for suppliers – to consider selling to consumers through mobile phones as an adjunct to online and bricks and mortar transactions.

The transactions work like this: a consumer registers their personal details with Qpay and their credit card details with Westpac. When they see an advertisement that tempts them, they send a product code via text message to Qpay. An automated call back is used to confirm the purchase, then the funds are transferred to the retailer and the product is shipped. We asked Walter what he thought people would buy.

 “Certainly the small appliances; if someone is just time poor, and plenty of us are, and they can see an ad be it in print, radio or TV, they can say, ‘Oh yes, I’ll just grab that now, either for my personal use or as a gift.’”

Qpay doesn’t charge any fees for starting a relationship with a retailer. Its revenue is derived from commissions charged on each transaction. Walter also said Qpay pay for any associated credit card fees.

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