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Is In-App Commerce being adequately utilised by Marketers

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wechat-and-mobileA study by SAP states that consumers in India are leading the demand for mobile commerce services, with 97 per cent of consumers asking for more mobile interactions with businesses. While embracing the appetite for mobile purchase adoption, it is vital that organizations look to develop products and services for India where they are able to balance the desire for ease and convenience with security requirements. This need has given rise to the development of In-app commerce, which is the way forward for m-commerce strategies now. But the new marketing tool is still an unexploited opportunity for marketers and consumers seek a seamless experience. So have marketers understood the nuances of In-App Commerce?

As a recent example, WeChat brought the ‘Official Account – AskMeSearch’ exclusively on its app for its users. As a part of this tightly knitted experience, WeChat users will be able to access online information on SMEs across local search, deals and classifieds through their WeChat application. So while chatting, if you want to know the nearest coffee shop or a great deal nearby your current location, the information will be accessible just a click away and you can also share the same with your chat friends. On this move, Mr. Jaspreet Bindra, CEO, Getit Infomedia, says, “In-app commerce is definitely the way forward. It is all about enhancing the experience of the user.” But advertising might just disrupt this seamless experience.

By 2017, a full 48 percent of app store revenue will be accounted for by in-app purchases, Gartner predicted. WeChat has always been innovative in terms of its features. Though researches show that Whatsapp is the undisputed global leader in the messaging market, the Chinese invention – WeChat is gaining popularity solely for the way it customizes according to the market needs.

With its launch in India, WeChat introduced live chat with Bollywood celebrities like Parineeti Chopra and Varun Dhawan, which became a catalyst for the success of WeChat in India. It is now the second most downloaded non-gaming app and has more than 100 million registered accounts in international markets. Mr. Nilay Arora, Vice-President, Marketing & Business Development, 10c India Internet Private Ltd., said, “WeChat has always strived to build a richer ecosystem for our users through which they can communicate with friends, enjoy interactive services & utilities, and follow their favourite Brands & Celebs.”
In-app purchases like buying extra levels or features within a game or application is rapidly gaining popularity along with growing market shares of the various apps. More companies are releasing ‘locked’, or ‘free’ versions of their apps for users to trial. Once payment has been received, the app unlocks fully. Line saw revenue of US $ 132 million for Q2 2013, 80 per cent of which was driven from stickers and in-game purchases collectively. Kakao Talk claims that it earned US $ 311 million in revenue in H1 2013 from its gaming platform alone. As WeChat launches it in-app games, it is slowly becoming a challenge for Whatsapp that lacks such innovations at a regular pace. The competition clearly reflects that consumers now seek engagement and their loyalty is solely based on the various engagement mazes that a brand focuses on.
“Mobile carriers can be considered as marketing solution providers. There are opportunities that only mobile carriers can offer – high reach, segmented audience covering media dark areas, location targeting, brings consumer closest to purchase and customer delight and loyalty,” says Arun Sharma, VP Marketing, head Media, Bharti Airtel Limited. To engage the consumers a campaign should be seamlessly designed in an app so that it hits the right notes with the user.

Consumers are spending a major amount of time on their smartphones and apps and they are continuously looking forward to newer experiences every time. Marketers need to tap the opportunity but keeping in mind the fact that customers also prefer a smooth and non-interrupting experience. Customers would rather buy an app than deal with numerous ad promotions on a free app. Unilever has been able to successfully deliver such an experience to its customers. Rahul Welde, Vice President, Media, Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Turkey, Unilever said, “Mobile is an area of focus for us and we are always on the lookout for ideas, innovations, insights and new platforms for our brands to activate.”

Huge revenue figures have helped feature-rich Asian chat apps generate a lot of hype, and as a result, some see WhatsApp’s stubborn refusal to enrich its monetization avenues as misguided. Succeeding on over 300 million monthly active users who use it because it does what it has to and their friends are already on it, Whatsapp is soon to face a tough competition with Japan’s LINE app, Korea’s Kakao Talk and China’s WeChat. But a bigger challenge is for the marketers who should choose the content that adds value to the consumer’s life because contextual marketing is definitely the next era buzz word!

By Gunjan Verma

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