Interface Design Issues for Mobile Commerce

Interface Design Issues for Mobile Commerce

Susy S. Chan (DePaul University, USA) and Xiaowen Fang (DePaul University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch339
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Effective interface design for mobile handheld devices facilitates user adoption of mobile commerce (m-commerce). Current wireless technology poses many constraints for effective interface design. These constraints include limited connectivity and bandwidth, diverse yet simplistic devices, the dominance of proprietary tools and languages, and the absence of common standards for application development. The convergence of mobile Internet and wireless communications has not yet resulted in major growth in mobile commerce. Consumer adoption of m-commerce has been slow even in countries such as Finland, which have broadly adopted wireless technology (Anckar & D’Incau, 2002). An international study of mobile handheld devices and services suggests that mobile commerce is at a crossroads (Jarvenpaa, Lang, Takeda & Tuunainen, 2003). The enterprise and business use of wireless technology holds greater promise, but it demands the transformation of business processes and infrastructure. Poor usability of mobile Internet sites and wireless applications for commerce activities stands out as a major obstacle for the adoption of mobile solutions. For example, even with the latest 3G phones in Japan, consumers still find the small screen display and small buttons on these devices difficult to use (Belson, 2002).
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Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce broadly refers to the use of wireless technology, particularly handheld mobile devices and mobile Internet, to facilitate transaction, information search, and user task performance in business-to-consumer, business-to-business, and intra-enterprise communications (Chan & Fang, 2003). Researchers have proposed several frameworks for the study of m-commerce. Varshney and Vetter’s framework (2001) presents 12 classes of m-commerce applications, ranging from retail and online shopping, auction, mobile office, and entertainment to mobile inventory emphasizing the potential of mobile B2B and intra-enterprise applications. The framework by Kannan, Chang, and Whinston (2001) groups mobile services into goods, services, content for consumer e-commerce, and activities among trading partners.

Waters (2000) proposes two visions for the potential and opportunities of m-commerce. One perspective argues that the mobile, wireless channel should be viewed as an extension of the current e-commerce channel or as part of a company’s multi-channel strategies for reaching customers, employees, and partners. The second, more radical view suggests that m-commerce can create markets and business models.

Recent development in m-commerce has substantiated the first perspective. Major e-commerce sites have implemented their mobile Internet sites as an extension of wired e-commerce to support existing customers (Chan & Lam, 2004; Chan et al., 2002). Consumers have shown relatively low willingness to use m-commerce, but adopters of e-commerce are more likely to embrace this new technology (Anckar & D’Incau, 2002). Furthermore, perceived difficulty of use can affect consumers’ choice of m-commerce as a distribution channel (Shim, Bekkering & Hall, 2002). These findings suggest that in a multi-channel environment, m-commerce supplements e-commerce instead of becoming a substitute for e-commerce.

Enterprise and business applications of m-commerce technologies seem to hold greater promise, because it is easier for companies to standardize and customize applications and devices to enhance current work processes. An Ernst & Young study (2001) of the largest companies in Sweden shows that, except for the retail industry sector, most industries have viewed m-commerce as being vital for growth and efficiency strategies, but not necessarily for generating new revenue. However, integrating the wireless platform in an enterprise requires significant structural transformation and process redesign.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Usability: Usability refers to how well an application is designed for users to perform desired tasks easily and effectively.

Multimodal Interface: An interface that communicates with users through multiple modes.

Location-Aware Service: Mobile services that provide information based on a user’s location through the support of a global positioning system. Such services include mobile maps, weather, restaurants, and movie directories.

Contextual Inquiry: This interface design method employs an ethnographic approach such as observing user activities in a realistic context.

Interface Design: Design of the interactions between humans and computers.

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