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SPOILER: You don’t need another article to tell you how important mobile commerce is.
You probably get how touchscreens are transforming online habits. Maybe you already use your mobile to make purchases, do your banking, search for products, or all three.
Still, it’s good to have proof, especially if you’re trying to make the business case in your company for a mobile-first ecommerce strategy.
And proof we have — in spades. Let’s look at the numbers:
Americans devoted more than a billion hours to shopping on mobile phones last year
Numbers from Statista show that mobile commerce sales are set to reach $3.5 trillion by the end of this year
Since 2016, mobile commerce sales have seen an average year-on-year increase of 33.8% (eMarketer)
Independent retailers are seeing in-app sales revenue jump
This is the year mobile will overtake desktop in terms of total ecommerce sales (Statista)
There’s no denying it: a great ecommerce shift is underway. We’re leaving PCs behind and reaching for smartphones and tablets first when the impulse to buy takes hold.
So let’s take a look at what that means.
Ready to get serious about mobile commerce?
You can still use ecommerce and mobile commerce interchangeably; they both refer to buying stuff online. But you'd miss an important distinction.
Mobile commerce is ecommerce 2.0 — a natural evolution to a higher form.
In the early days, ecommerce happened on desktops and laptops. Maybe you bought a ringtone or a game on your old Nokia N95, but for shopping on mobile, that was about it.
Today’s smartphones and apps are so feature-rich that they’ve made buying almost anything on-the-go an absolute breeze.
But the way people use smartphones to make purchases is very different from desktop, so much so that we have to invent a new way of talking about ecommerce: mobile commerce or m-commerce.
Technically it includes any monetary transaction completed on a smartphone or tablet. But there’s more.
M-commerce is so powerful, its paved the way for new online services and the rise of new categories:
Contactless payments by phone or smart watch
Mobile coupons and loyalty cards
SaaS app building platforms
Why does mobile commerce matter?
Smartphones now drive more than 65% of all ecommerce traffic.
At this point, your website should already be optimized for mobile devices, but that doesn’t automatically make you m-commerce ready.
You could still be missing out on a lot of sales.
Why? Because shoppers have to deal with smaller screens and only have their thumbs rather than 10 fingers and a mouse. It has to be even more simple and initiative. Another important fact is that mobile shoppers are often on-the-go, making them less patient and forgiving.
In other words: people behave differently on mobile versus desktop.
And that’s where the shopping experience on mobile websites sometimes falls short. Websites are still built for desktop by default. For mobile, many are re-formatted for mobile screens but don't take into account mobile behavior — and it shows.
Mobile shopping visits may be surging, but they’re only converting at half the desktop rate, 2.25 per cent versus close to five.
The reason: a massive gap in user experience has opened up between apps and mobile websites.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. To understand what’s going on, we need to start from the beginning.
What are the categories of mobile commerce?
While mobile commerce covers a wide range of transaction types, most can be lumped into one of two categories:
This is the big one — buying stuff online but through your phone instead of your PC.
Mobile shopping happens through mobile apps, mobile responsive websites, and through the ‘social shopping’ capabilities of popular social media apps like Instagram.
Doing your banking via smartphone is getting more and more convenient. On mobile banking websites, transaction types were pretty limited, and security concerns held back innovation.
Now banking apps and the rise of mobile-only challenger banks like Revolut and N26 are making mobile banking a standalone category.
Mobile commerce: the pros and cons
It’s safe to say mobile commerce is disrupting ecommerce, and like any disruptor, it brings loads of good — but also leaves some bad in its wake.
Let's consider the upsides and downsides of the m-commerce rise.
First, the pros:
Better customer experience (Cx)
Ecommerce already raised the bar for shopping by giving consumers greater access to a broader variety of products and prices.
Mobile commerce provides those Cx benefits, but now they’re literally sitting in the palm of their hand.
If you have a smartphone and a decent broadband connection, you can shop whenever, wherever.
And the Cx of mobile shopping is getting better every day. New mobile commerce applications are being developed that enable buyers to do even more with their phones:
Though augmented reality (AR) has been around since the early 2000s, the rapid evolution of smartphone cameras has pulled AR into the mainstream. AR apps can help you book an Airbnb or find your way around a mall.
Push notifications and chatbots in shopping apps make it easier for shoppers to interact directly with brands, ask questions about products, or access the latest discounts and offers.
Enabling omnichannel experiences
More than 73 per cent of mobile shoppers are omnichannel. Omnichannel shopping means buying products online and offline, and when online, usually across multiple channels. Why does this happen? According to research it takes about 8 touch points before someone is ready to buy.
It’s about being where your customers are, building trust and brand awareness. And then making it possible for them to buy however they want, via any channel — as smoothly as possible.
You can think of mobile commerce as the hub on a wheel of buying options — where every spoke supports a smoother journey.
More payment options to choose from
Nothing takes the fun out of a shopping trip faster than waiting forever at the checkout.
The same is true on mobile. Brands need to make smartphone checkout easy, and that means reducing or eliminating the need to type in numbers and letters. In fact, almost HALF of cart abandonment is caused by too many steps in the checkout.
If that’s the case for your brand then luckily there are solutions. With the rise of one-touch and contactless mobile payment solutions, brands can enable purchasing with simple taps and swipes.
Popular mobile payment solutions include:
Take your pick. They all make concluding transactions fast and seamless, which is critical for mobile shoppers. They demand experiences that are simple, intuitive, and speedy.
While mobile sites can only shorten some of the checkout process, mobile apps can make it fully one-touch. That’s because users are already logged in, so all their data is stored and apps can integrate with other payment platforms more easily.
Now, the cons
Too much choice
All those payment options can be a mixed bag when it comes to mobile commerce.
Many payment options aren’t universally available in every country, and consumers in some geographies may prefer one payment option over the one you'd like to invest in.
And while it may be counter-intuitive, offering consumers loads of choice can be self-defeating.
It’s called the Choice Paradox – an inverse relationship between choice and sales. Too much of one reduces results in the other.
Getting the mix of mobile payment options right may take time. You'll need to capture enough data over a long enough period to know which payment options customers value most.
It's safe to say, though, that one-click solutions are becoming more popular, and it’s easy to understand why. They make mobile checkout less awkward.
Making mobile your ecommerce channel of choice will require you to change how you think about the management and development of your online store.
Mobile technology and shopping app capabilities are evolving from month to month. You have to stay on top of the latest trends and look to continually optimize your mobile website or app.
“This doesn't have to mean re-launching your app every quarter or creating a brand new look and feel. ”
It does mean focusing on the details and picking an agency or development partner that can help you keep up.
For a mobile commerce app to succeed, it needs to provide a shopping experience that's smooth, intuitive, fast and clear — while looking fabulous at the same time. It also means adding features to your app and website that customers have come to expect from big brands’ shopping apps and sites.
Brands like Airbnb, Netflix, and Uber have set the bar high for mobile customer experience. You'll need to find a way to keep up — and as we’ll discuss later — you can, even without an Amazon-sized marketing budget.
The downside of customer empowerment
Empowering customers is usually cited as a brand aspiration in retail, but it can have a downside too. In days of yore, shoppers would do comparison shopping by leafing through weekend shopping flyers or window shopping.
But mobile commerce has made all that manual effort redundant.
Armed with their iPhones and Androids, customers can compare prices and shipping costs instantly, sometimes while standing inside one of your physical locations.
Mobile commerce: 4 best practices
1. Mobile checkout
As we alluded to above, choosing the right ecommerce payment solution is even more critical when it comes to mobile shopping.
Mobile shoppers don't want to type in credit card and address details manually, so one-touch or contactless payment solutions integrated with your shopping app are bound to improve conversion.
It doesn’t take a lot to frustrate mobile shoppers.
Ask mobile users to do too much work, and you'll lose them.
Nearly half — 46% of all cart abandonment happens when users have to enter address and payment information. That makes manual data entry a top conversion killer.
The time it takes for a page to load in a browser has been a critical metric of website performancefor years.
When it comes to mobile commerce, speed and responsiveness are even more vital.
Google has been touting the importance of mobile page speed ever since they noticed that more than 50% of search queries were happening on mobile devices.
Page load time has long been a key Google ranking factor, but it jumped to the top of the list when Google noticed in 2017 that mobile web searches had overtaken desktop. They followed up the next year with a mobile-first search index.
For brands that sell goods and services online, optimizing their virtual storefronts for mobile shopping will push them up the SERPS.
But organic search and SEO aren’t the only reasons to focus on page-loads.
A study by Forrester found that most shoppers won’t wait more than three seconds for a page to load before jumping off to look elsewhere.
More than half said that the speed and performance of a website was a determining factor in brand loyalty. 80% said they’d be less likely to return to an underperforming website in the future.
A more recent study by Google found bounce rates go up exponentially the longer a site takes to load on a mobile device.
3. Customer experience
Mobile users are pretty demanding, but they're starting to take advanced shopping features and functions for granted.
With so many purchases shifting online, what they now crave is confidence about what they buy and who they buy it from.
That means your mobile commerce presence has to radiate quality, legitimacy, and trust — all strong values brands need to instil if they're going to attract mobile shoppers and keep them coming back.
App, website, or both, they need to look great, work perfectly, and be agile enough to keep up with the latest user shopping and payment preferences.
4. Mobile apps
The rise of mobile commerce is shaping customer expectations and raising them. But satisfying mobile shoppers isn't easy.
They want personalization, intuitive and straightforward design, and frictionless purchase journeys.
They also want to benefit from new technologies that enhance the shopping experience and make it easier to make a buying decision.
Ask yourself this: If you want to check your Instagram feed, do you open your mobile browser or click the app?
Instagram’s mobile website is perfectly fine. Why do the vast majority of people download and install the app instead?
Because it delivers the best experience. Once you log in, all your profile, contact, address, payment, settings, history, and other info are up-to-date and ready to go.
It saves time. It has more functionality. And it can send you a push notification when you get a comment or receive a message.
The same holds true for mobile commerce apps.
Apps do more, and they do it better.
That’s probably why the mobile commerce app category is growing at an annual rate of 54 percent — the highest in any app category.
Average year-over-year growth rates for all mobile app categories is 6 percent. Shopping is a thumping 48 percent higher than the average.
Ready to get serious about mobile commerce?
At JMango360, we’ve been living and breathing mobile app best practices for more than a decade.
We started a revolution, enabling brands big & small to have a premium mobile commerce app for an affordable monthly plan.
Our open SaaS platform delivers beautifully designed apps with all the latest graphic, technological and UX innovations. Most apps are live in 30 days.
Will the investment in a mobile commerce app pay off? Of course, there's lots to consider, but in most cases, the numbers speak for themselves.
Try our Mobile App ROI Calculator and see for yourself.
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