One of the most important activities on the internet is shopping. You can shop at your own convenience; when you want, where you want and how you want. Although, in 1994, the internet began to gain popularity among the general public, it took about 4 years for the security standards and the most common foundations of the web experience to start paving the way for the very first type of e-commerce systems. According to Pew Internet, in 2008, '66% of Americans say they have purchased a product online' (Horrigan, 2008). This shows that internet users have embraced online shopping because they see it as a convenient and time-saving way to do their shopping. (Ecommerce-land)
For many of us, our cell phones never leave our side. Busy schedules mean people are often on the move and companies must make sure that they reach them on their cell phones. 'With Smartphone sales rising 49% in the first quarter of 2010, never before has it been so easy to shop, anywhere, anytime from the palm of your hand'. (Marcus, 2010)
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Modern eCommerce sites already allow the user to enhance their web-experience; however most of these sites perform very inefficiently and slowly on mobile devices such as Smartphones. Sites that are developed for desktop computers, when viewed on a mobile platform, prove to be more confusing due to the small viewport and limited resolutions.
Time is the most valuable commodity in online shopping. In an eCommerce website one wants his users to find what they want rapidly and buy it as soon as possible. Difficult navigation is one of the fundamental reasons for time wasting.
Specifically designed websites for mobile platforms create a more accessible, user-friendly, fast and straight-to-the-point user-interface.
Mobile Shopping Mall aims to provide an mCommerce experience where users continually on the move are able to search and buy in a very fast, effective and user-friendly mobile platform.
The popularity of mobile electronic devices such as Tablet PCs, Smart phones and PDAs is continually increasing along with the popularity of online shopping and social networking. 'Smartphones with touch screens, Wi-Fi connectivity, and advanced Operating Systems are growing in popularity' along with other 'Mobile Internet Devices like the iPad' (AdMob Mobile Metrics, 2010). Developing applications to work with these mobile devices enables users to access your application from wherever they want and whenever they need.
Online shopping has been around for quite a while and with the popularity of mobile devices having an internet connection, online shopping through mobile devices (m-commerce) was possible. 'While still in its infancy, the concept of m-commerce has been refined in recent years and is beginning to become more popular' (What is M-Commerce?, 2010)
I find building an M-commerce solution which is integrated with a social networking website very interesting. One of the main reasons for my interest in this subject is because of the rapid growth of social networking websites, on the 2nd of June 2010 comscore.com released a press release in which they stated that 'Social Networking experienced the strongest growth in app access, increasing 240 percent to 14.5 million users' (Social Networking Ranks as Fastest-Growing Mobile Content Category , 2010)
Aim and Objectives
To provide a mobile shopping solution to online resellers who would like to start up their own shop and start selling on mobile devices and to provide users the opportunity to shop in their own comfort where they want, when they want and how they want.
Merchants will have the ability to set up individual shops which will have their own personalized design and by setting different options, changes will then reflect on the design of their mobile shop. Customization will include research on customization techniques which will include the implementation of CSS3.
Search and Filtering System
Users can search for online shops or for products in all shops through the system's filtering system.
Users will be able to get recommendations on things like similar products, what other buyers bought and what Facebook friends bought through the system's recommendation system.
The web application will be optimized for mobile devices such as Smartphones and will make use of existing frameworks such as jQuery and jQuery Mobile to enhance the user experience.
Integration with Social Networking
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Mobile Shopping Mall will be integrated with the renowned social networking platform 'Facebook' using their API.
As a research method I intend to observe existing systems which might be similar to the proposed system in order to come up with new ideas for an ideal solution.
In terms of research, experimentation will be used while discovering new platforms, concepts and ideas. The result of the experimentation will determine if the subject should be implemented or discarded.
I intend to run the following tests on the proposed system:
After testing, I intend to use the SWOT Analysis to find the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats on the proposed system.
The following is a list of deliverables that will be produced in order to meet the objectives mentioned above:
Having a shopping solution available on mobile devices which will offer Customization to Merchants and by simply setting and changing pre defined settings, the merchant's shop will take a different and personalized look.
Optimizing the shopping solution for mobile platforms, this will include the 'iPhone' platform and the 'Android' platform.
A web content management system (CMS) for merchants to manage their shop.
A search and filtering system designed and developed specifically to work on mobile devices to create a user-friendly approach to mobile shopping for the user.
A recommendation system which will aid the users while shopping online and suggest related products.
Integrating the system with a well-knows social networking platform, 'Facebook' which will give users the personalization experience they get from social networking through the 'Facebook API'. Integration with 'Facebook' will also be an important part in the recommendation system.