Recent reports clearly show a rapid increase in mobile phones browsing using Wi-Fi – according to recent Bango research over 20% of your customers are now connecting via Wi-Fi (see Bango Wi-Fi stats). Millennial Media also reported 22% Wi-Fi use in the USA as part of their June U.S Scorecard for Mobile Advertising Reach and Targeting (SMART) report (see  Millenial Media report).

Bango goes on to predict that over a third of all mobile customers will use Wi-Fi by 2010. Combine this with the increased growth in smartphone sales with 38.1 million units sold worldwide in the first quarter of 2009, and it represents a very large percentage of your customers. Using Wi-Fi makes browsing your store fast, easy and cost effective, but it also introduces significant challenges which, if not addressed, will lose 20% of your sales.

Wi-Fi operator billing experience
Wi-Fi operator billing experience

I think we all agree that operator billing delivers the highest number of successful sales – the ability that consumers have to simply click and pay using their mobile phone bill makes those impulse purchases so fast and simple. It would be great if they had all the speed and convenience of operator billing combined with the benefits of Wi-Fi. But unfortunately since your customer is not connected using an authenticated operator connection, that familiar operator billing payment experience cannot be offered. Even your most loyal customers become total strangers when they connect using Wi-Fi, which means they are no longer able to just click and pay.

To date many mobile billing solutions simply give up, leaving customers unable to pay, while others just show an error when they try. A few mobile payment solutions try to overcome this by providing the unknown customer with an alternate way to pay. Some offer credit card which will give you a few extra sales, but it will be significantly less than the 20% you would have captured if the familiar operator billing was available. There are one or two hand built remedies, requiring a payment confirmation code in a text message to be memorized and entered back in the browser to complete the payment. Even with the best keyboards and touch screens these alternative billing experiences will deliver lower payment success.

To make things trickier, customers often change their network connection. For example, while on the move they will browse using their operator network – payments will be quick and simple using familiar operator billing. When they get to work, back home or to their local coffee shop their phone will connect via a Wi-Fi hotspot. When they go to buy more from your store they will get blocked or presented with a different, inferior payment alternative. So even though they are trying to buy from the same site, your store, they will be presented with very inconsistent payment experiences based on their connection.

So as well as losing 20% of sales due to Wi-Fi, you are also likely to lose customers as they get confused and fail to buy what they want. This might also mean an increase in the number of customers contacting your service team, as they can’t simply pay.

The way to capture this 20% of Wi-Fi customers is quite simple, it is crucial that the customer always gets exactly the same operator billing experience, independent of their network connection or phone – it must just work as they expect, even over Wi-Fi. Being able to consistently click to pay on the mobile phone bill also increases customer satisfaction, transaction speed and repeat business.

Bango is the only company to deliver a consistent payment experience across all phones and connections as part of the new Bango Payment product. There isn’t anything else you can do today, with no outlay, to boost your revenue by 20%.