IBM launches software for personalised mobile shopping

IBM has announced new software that delivers a personalised and more interactive shopping experience for the exploding population of mobile users worldwide. The software incorporates new social networking capabilities and the ability for retailers to reach consumers with personalised promotions, coupons and other content, regardless of how or where the customer chooses to shop with them.

Advancements in mobile devices are reshaping the way customers interact with brands, expanding beyond mere information exchange to true online commerce. Increasingly, the beneficiaries of this growth are online retailers. According to independent research firm, Forrester Research, Inc., consumer retail sales from websites is projected to reach $211.7 billion by 2012 in the United States alone, up from $125.1 billion in 2007.

The new software underscores IBM’s commitment to the mobile space. In June, the company announced a five-year, $100 million research initiative aimed at improving mobile services and capabilities for businesses and consumers worldwide.

To meet this demand, IBM is introducing WebSphere Commerce 7, a new release of its e-commerce software that enhances the shopping experience for mobile consumers. The new IBM Mobile Store solution improves the shopping experience from start to finish, enabling customers to more easily browse an online store, conduct side-by-side product comparisons, then view store locations, check inventory availability and complete the purchase.

Shoppers can even place orders online and pick up their merchandise at the closest store – which can be automatically mapped out for them on their mobile phone. With the new IBM technology, retailers can also instantly deliver timely, relevant and personalised brand information and promotions, based on past purchases, to a customer’s mobile device through text messages or e-mail.

According to IBM’s Institute for Business Value, the number of mobile users will grow by 191% from 2006 to 2011 to reach approximately one billion users worldwide. These numbers are being driven by people in both industrialised as well as developing nations. Because broadband access remains difficult in many places, hand-held devices are often the only means of access to the web.