Firms are being urged to develop mobile websites, given the enormous potential of mobile e-commerce in Vietnam, speakers said at a recent conference.

According to Le Duc Anh from the E-commerce and Information Technology Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, mobile shopping is expected to grow rapidly, but firms must learn how to exploit the mobile shopping trend.

He cited statistics showing that 90 percent of smartphone shoppers used their phones to search for information, including prices, and where to buy and look for promotions, while 19 percent of smartphone shoppers made payments via smartphones, and 50 percent of smartphone shoppers used their phones for at least 15 minutes per visit to websites.

The Vietnam E-commerce Index 2014, released recently by the Vietnam E-commerce Association (Vecom), also revealed that 36 percent of the country's population owned smartphones.

There has been increasing mobile phone usage, with the percentage of daily internet access via smartphones reaching 76 percent, which was much higher than the percentage of access through PCs and laptops, which stood at 59 percent.

Meanwhile, just under 15 percent of the nation's companies have developed mobile websites.

Those figures suggest the enormous untapped potential of mobile e-commerce in the country, though many firms remain indifferent to developing mobile websites, said Vice President of Vecom Nguyen Thanh Hung.

According to Hoang Anh Viet, a representative from Lingo, an online store, figures indicate that in 2012, 90 percent of the access to the company's website was conducted through desktop computers, but now that percentage has decreased to about 50 percent, coupled with increasing mobile traffic, rising from 17 percent in 2013 to 40 percent.

"Mobile websites will be an indispensable trend," Viet stressed, adding that if firms did not redesign their websites, they would fail to keep pace with customer trends.

However, Viet revealed that only 23 percent of online orders were conducted via mobile phones, as user experiences with mobile websites remained limited.

Meanwhile, Le Thiet Bao from Deca Company said that the loading speed of mobile websites must be optimised, as smartphone shoppers were becoming increasingly less patient.

Bao stressed the need for the development of mobile websites, as Google now gives a boost in search rankings to mobile-friendly sites.

Of note, the Ministry of Industry and Trade would soon issue a circular about the development of mobile e-commerce, said Anh.-VNA