Holiday bargain hunters switch on to mobile shopping


November 29, 2012

As Australian organisations gear up for the busy Christmas season ahead, retailers in the USA are just now recovering from one of the biggest online shopping days of the year – Cyber Monday.

The Monday following Thanksgiving and the more traditional shopping day of Black Friday has quickly grown to prominence in recent years as a time for consumers to go online and hunt down bargains from the comfort of their own homes.

In 2011, Cyber Monday brought in an estimated US$1.25 billion in total online sales, an increase of 22 per cent over the same day a year earlier.

However that is nothing compared to early calculations of this year's Cyber Monday income. In fact, according to statistics released November 28 by IBM, 2012 Cyber Monday online sales were up a total of 30.3 per cent over last year.

One statistic that may be of particular note to innovative enterprises will be the surge in popularity of mobile shopping.

IBM estimates that more than 18 per cent of Cyber Monday consumers utilised a mobile device – such as a tablet or smart phone – to visit the website of a particular retailer.

That number is an increase of more than 70 per cent over 2011, and goes to show just how quickly smart devices are becoming a pivotal part of not just the online shopping experience, but of day to day life.

In order to take advantage of this trend, many organisations are now preparing mobile applications which allow users to quickly and easily access essential information and perform financial transactions via their portable devices.

However it is important to remember that with this new technology platform comes new cybersecurity risks and new vulnerability management considerations to take into account.

For this reason, it is important that organisations looking at releasing a smart device app think carefully about the level of mobile application security that is in place.

Financial institutions, due to the very nature of their customer interaction, are particularly vulnerable in this area and must take great care to ensure their mobile applications are as secure and confidential as possible.

This fact was reinforced by National Australia Bank's head of mobile and emerging technologies Ben Forsyth at an event in Sydney earlier this year.

Mr Forsyth warned that building secure and successful apps requires a particularly high attention to detail, and noted that penetration testing was an essential part of developing a reliable mobile phone application.

"The incremental cost that’s involved in engaging the third party security expert to undertake those reviews is dwarfed by the potential for reputation damage if the app is released into the market and your customers are affected," explained Mr Forsyth at the CeBIT event, as reported by Computerworld on May 24.

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