What are the Characteristics of the Firms that are Most Prone to Mobile Selling?

What are the Characteristics of the Firms that are Most Prone to Mobile Selling?

Sonia San-Martín (Universidad de Burgos, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4062-7.ch011
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Vendors are actively considering the mobile phone as a means of marketing nowadays and should also analyze its potential as a means of selling. In this study, we present the survey results from a sample of 125 firms, in Spain. The author outlines two types of firms (sceptical and receptive) on the basis of factors that drive or inhibit this type of selling. The author then characterize those types of potential mobile firms regarding TOE (technological, organizational and environmental) variables and CRM (perceived customer relationship performance, perceived customer value, electronic database and benefits of mobile CRM) variables. To the best of the author’s knowledge, previous studies have neither analyzed mobile selling in Spain nor proposed an exhaustive characterization of mobile vendor firms and strategies.
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The penetration of mobile telephony in the world is high and the mobile phone is now the most widely used electronic device worldwide. By the end of 2011 total mobile cellular subscriptions reached almost 6 billion, which implies a penetration rate of 86% (ITU, 2012). However, the number of lines for every one hundred inhabitants in Europe is much higher, exceeding 120% (ITU). Hence, there are more telephone lines in Europe than there are inhabitants, which is a clear indicator of the importance of the mobile phone for the population. In Spain, the higher percentage of technological expense in households (43%) corresponds to mobile telephony. 85% of Spanish people use the mobile phone habitually, which involves a potential market of 33 millions of active users (ONTSI, 2012c). In addition, this data reflects the enormous market that the mobile phone creates and, therefore, the importance that mobile commerce (m-commerce) can acquire with this type of device. Data indicates that 60% of smartphone users in USA have used the mobile phone in a shopping process. Besides, sales forecast are high as benefits from mobile selling in USA are expected to be triple in the following 4 years (Forrester, 2011).

Data hardly exists on m-commerce in Spain, however, data may be found relating to Internet users (ONTSI, 2012a). According to this study, 15.2% of Internet users have acquired some type of service or product through their mobile devices. The type of purchaser is mainly young, with secondary studies and a low social and economic level. The products and/or services that are purchased are principally melodies and songs, followed by participation in contests and quiz shows. The number of products acquired in 2010 was 2.04 products/person. However, such growth has hardly achieved the real potential of this business channel, as it could still be much greater. Indeed, rather than growth, it suggests a slight stagnation of m-commerce in Spain. The report prepared by ONTSI (2012b), on the basis of the ITC business survey, points out that around 100% of large firms have computers, Internet connections and electronic mail. Mobile broadband now reaches 50.4% in Spanish firms with Internet access, mostly firms from software and telecommunications sectors. 91.5% of small and medium-sized firms have mobile telephony. With regard to small firms, the report shows that both computers and mobile telephony reach 70% of penetration in 2011.

In this context, business management has experienced changes derived from development, introduction and acceptance of new technologies. The mobile phone is acquiring ever greater relevance as a means of commerce. From an initial simple communication device, it has become a complex instrument capable of completing almost any transaction. Bearing in mind the special characteristics of the mobile phone, as opposed to other devices such as the television or the computer (mobility, interactivity, ubiquity, localization and personalization), it should be seen as an appropriate instrument for firms to complement other types of commercial channels (Clarke, 2001; Tsai & Gururajan, 2005). We could say that m-commerce implies a move from a sales paradigm, in which the consumer enters the seller’s environment, to one in which the seller enters the consumer’s environment, at any time and place, by means of mobile devices (Shankar et al., 2010). We are going to focus on mobile selling (MS), which involves the charge and delivery of products and services through mobile phones to facilitate commerce, unrestricted by time or place. Although there is certain research in m-commerce, most of the studies focus on the consumer standpoint (Zhou, 2011; Wu et al., 2010; Wei et al., 2009; Choi et al., 2008), while fewer works have addressed the perspective of the firms (Gebauer & Shaw, 2004; Liang et al., 2007; Mallat & Tuunainen, 2008; Methlie & Pedersen, 2007; Shankar et al., 2010).

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