Wireless E-Commerce Said to Be Heating Up

Amazon.com and Virgin.com are among the companies setting the pace in the emerging field of wireless e-commerce, says consulting firm Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing, which claims that 1999 saw the first wireless e-commerce holiday season.

The company says that consumers are already purchasing products from Amazon.com using the wireless-enabled Palm VII and Sprint PCS’s new Wireless Web service.

“It’s absolutely crucial for retailers to understand that wireless offers an incredibly powerful distribution channel if it’s used intelligently,” said Alan A. Reiter, president of Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing.

For example, he said consumers are visiting traditional bookstores but checking prices via their wireless devices — and sometimes purchasing books from Amazon.com while still in the bookstore. One customer even ordered a large-screen television from Amazon via wireless, Reiter said.

“This is not business as usual,” said Reiter. “The immediacy, convenience and flexibility of wireless communications has the power to change the way people shop.”

Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing said that Amazon is determined to translate its expertise in desktop-based selling into a great wireless experience. This includes tailoring for wireless many of the features offered on its Web site, such as 1-Click purchasing and recommendations by users.

Virgin, which operates more than 200 companies, including an airline, music stores, a beverage company, an Internet service, travel and vacation firms and a publishing company entered the wireless arena this fall.

Virgin Mobile resells cellular service in the United Kingdom and offers a variety of airtime packages and wireless services, including discounts on travel packages when reserved through a Virgin Mobile phone and the ability to listen to audio CDs and order them at a discount.

Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing said Virgin not only wants to enter the European wireless market, but also is exploring options for the United States.

Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing helps to jump-start and enhance innovative products and services through consulting, conferences, tutorials and executive reports.
The company said it has no consulting relationship with Amazon or Virgin.

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