Why Star CJ’s Foray Into Mobile Commerce Isn’t Convincing Enough

Star CJ states that it has entered the Mobile Commerce business in India but that isn't completely true when we look at the offering


The mobile user base is expected to grow to 815 million this year, from 755 million connections in 2013 says research firm Gartner. Already India is one of the fastest growing smartphone country in Asia. Not only has the number of devices increased but consumption of content and entertainment is also on the rise.

Witnessing this trend Star CJ, a joint venture between South Korea’s CJO Shopping and American private equity investment firm Providence Equity Partners, has launched a mobile website which it expects to account for 20% of its total transactions in the near future instead of just 6% right now.

The home shopping network has launched its m-commerce website - the website has been specifically designed for easy access and navigation on all types of mobile phones with internet. The company further states that a direct link would be provided to the users, which will connect them to the Star CJ call centre on a click. “The idea is to smoothen and simplify the purchase, freeing the consumers from the tedious online payment process. Special discounts would be offered to the early birds, celebrating Company’s presence on the m-commerce platform.”

To asses the ease and navigation of the new platform, I logged onto the site via my Android smartphone, the below screen grab gives you a quick look of the home screen.

StarCJ mobile

With a broad search button, the mobile site has a top sliding banner which talks about the latest deals  and other products. Scroll down you would find a list of products, tap on any that you like and you get more details. See the below screen grab which shows the list of products and you get to know about the product on further tapping; you can also place an order for it.

StarCJ mobile commerce

Before you place an order, you need to create a profile which is a tedious process. The company should think about including social logins and use the mobile number verification for user authentication. Placing an order isn’t a tough job but the company can invest more time on the display and information of the product. Right now it isn’t convincing enough to buy products and also, other eCommerce apps score better on design and user experience.

Besides you can place your order by calling the call center, view and update your profile and watch live TV deals. That’s all Star CJ has to offer users in the name of mobile commerce.

Kenny Shin, CEO, Star CJ Network, said, “M-commerce has grown phenomenally in India due to rapid growth in the smartphone sector. Star CJ looks at this platform as one of the greatest opportunities to penetrate further into the Indian market. The team has done an impressive job with the design, making it extremely easy for consumers to access and navigate through the website.” 

But that isn’t enough to be called as a foray into mobile commerce.

Is it really mobile commerce?

Mobile commerce is defined as buying and paying for goods or services via mobile phones. In the case of Star CJ only browsing and adding to cart is happening for now, payment is still not happening over mobile unlike most other eCommerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc.

Flipkart, now prefers to be called a mobile or m-commerce company. Talking to ET, Mausam Bhatt, senior director, marketing, said, “We are an m-commerce company rather than an e-commerce company. Our mobile traffic has increased more than 50%, from under 15% a year back. We believe the future of mobile commerce will be written in India.” Rival Snapdeal is experiencing the same pace of growth in m-commerce. Amitabh Misra, vice president, engineering, said, “60% of our transactions are on mobile, up from 18% in March 2013. In two years we expect 80% of our business happening on smartphones.”

These eCommerce companies are seeing growth not only for the shopping experience but also for the end-to-end execution on mobile.

It is true that Indians are uncomfortable with credit card payment but looks like there is a second coming in adoption of credit cards. What so ever the foray of Star CJ can’t be termed as ‘mobile commerce’. If the company wishes to reach to 20%  of its total transactions in the near future then only providing products with discounts won’t help. Directing calls to customer center might solve the credit card problem but it kills the shopping experience and creates more hassles.

The company has done a great job in building a mobile compatible website rather than launching a set of apps since an average Indian user has 17 apps on his smartphone as compared to 41 for Japanese and 33 for Europeans. Storage is a problem with the majority of mid range smartphones in the country. However, the company will have to invest more time on upgrading the user experience and design, right now the product displays are not convincing enough to make a purchase.

If Star CJ really wants to foray into mobile commerce it will have to understand the mobile consumer behaviour selectively which is different from TV buying and develop the whole ecosystem — payments, security, catalog.