What is m-commerce?
The name is pretty self-explanatory, but for the record, let’s clarify it. M-commerce, or mobile commerce, is a term denoting using your mobile device – like a smartphone (in most cases) or tablet – to shop for products and services and pay for them. The term encompasses things like:
- Mobile money transfers
- Electronic tickets and boarding passes
- Digital content purchases and delivery
- Mobile banking
- Contactless payments and in-app payments
- Location-based services
- Mobile marketing, coupons, and loyalty cards
In practice, it’s nothing more than what we do daily paying for goods using our phones, getting bus tickets, or sending money to a friend.
We’ll look a little closer at mobile payments later in the article. But first, let’s also clarify one primary division.
M-commerce vs e-commerce
M-commerce is not really an entirely different concept from e-commerce, or rather, it’s a natural progression of e-commerce. With the popularity of smartphones, tablets and mobile payments, digital commerce naturally progressed towards mobile to allow people to pay for products and services on their mobile devices. And it turned out, mobile presents slightly different challenges, and e-commerce had to be adapted to answer them – like improving the initially low conversion rates resulting from the frustration of customers who had to go through complicated checkout processes on small screens.
And we’ll talk about the challenges in a minute.
But first, let’s look at some stats – which clearly show why adapting your business to m-commerce these days is not an option but a must.
Smartphones have become the driving force behind m-commerce growth. The m-commerce volume in the US alone is expected to increase from $128.4 billion in 2019 to $418.9 billion through 2024.
Business Insider Intelligence expects the $29 billion spent on tablets in 2019 to increase to $69 billion in 2024 — which is an 18.9% compound annual growth rate.
In 2021, 72.9 per cent of all retail e-commerce is expected to be generated via m-commerce, up from 58.9 per cent in 2017. Emerging e-commerce markets in mobile-first economies are a large driver of this trend. This will amount to $3.56 trillion worth of mobile purchases.
This will amount to $3.56 trillion worth of mobile purchases.And although the value of sales through desktop payments is still higher on average, there’s no denying the fact that mobile commerce is rapidly growing.
And so is the mobile share of online traffic, as seen on the chart below. More than half of online visits are now made through the mobile channel.
And besides the mere fact that most Internet users own smartphones, there are multiple other reasons for this. Here are some of them
The benefits of mobile commerce
Apart from the obvious benefit of using m-commerce – which is being able to buy things online literally anywhere and anytime, as long as you have an internet connection – other factors draw people to using m-commerce.
- It’s convenient and easy to use
Moving websites and online stores to a mobile-first experience, which is a non-negotiable condition for mobile commerce, brings many benefits for the users. Sites load faster, there are fewer steps to take to check out, the navigation’s easier. The overall customer experience is better – and this, in turn, means a higher success rate, and more income for businesses.
Plus, people can literally shop from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. They can easily connect to support teams, hatting Messenger or live chat apps, with quick troubleshooting if something goes wrong.
- It’s safe
Consumers feel more and more comfortable shopping online and on their mobiles. What’s important is the fact that mobile payments are often more secure than online payments in general (not to mention offline). This is because you’re not giving away your credit card details in a lot of cases. Mobile wallet payments, for example, are tokenised – and thus impossible to copy during the transaction. As younger generations who are used to living with their mobiles always on grow up, it’s becoming a natural thing and a trusted way to pay.
- It’s fast
Digital wallets and one-page checkouts make paying for services and goods a breeze. And good user experience draws more consumers in, increasing conversions. Since mobile payments are often used on the go (and on small screens), being able to pay quickly and conveniently is especially important.
- It provides a true omnichannel experience
Providing many channels for consumers to reach you (and pay you) is essential if you want to grow as a business. M-commerce also provides a variety of payment methods like the ones we’re mentioning below. It’s no longer a question of “cash or card”, but whether you want to use a one-click checkout, your mobile wallet, or add your payment to your monthly mobile phone bill.
The benefits of mobile commerce
When it comes to mobile payments, there are several options you can go for.
- Mobile wallets
Also called e-wallets, they’re the digital version of your wallet. Customers can keep multiple credit and debit cards in them and use them as contactless cards on their phone or to pay for online shopping and services they buy using their phone or tablet. Examples include Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Mobile transfers
Usually used within your mobile banking apps, they allow people to quickly transfer money from one bank account to another, often with just the receiver’s phone number. They’re also possible through P2P (peer to peer) cash apps.
- In-app payments
As the name suggests, they’re payments made within mobile apps, using a selected mobile payment method (like an e-wallet or direct carrier billing). The checkout experience is usually seamless and doesn’t require the user to leave the app to pay.
- Direct carrier billing
A method that’s been gaining in popularity, DCB allows users to add one-off or recurring payments for digital services, content, and products, to the customer’s monthly phone bill. Happening with one click and a PIN, they provide a seamless experience and make it very easy to pay for what you’re offering.
How to prepare your business for m-commerce
If you’re still looking at creating a mobile experience for your customers, or want to improve your existing one, there are several things you should do.
Design with the mobile experience in mind
User experience is critical in sales, and any type of commerce. So to accommodate those customers who want to visit your store and buy from you using their phones or tablets, make sure their experience is excellent.
And it’s more than just adjusting the font and button size or one-column layout for your website or store. Websites that are clunky, slow-loading or otherwise unoptimized for mobile are a no-go. There’s nothing more irritating for your consumers than not being able to tap – or even to see – something when they’re visiting your website from their phones.
If you’re unsure how much traffic or sales you might be losing by having a website or service that’s unoptimized for mobile, just check your website stats. And act accordingly.
Optimize for speed
Page speed is essential regardless of whether someone is using desktop or mobile – and has become a ranking factor for Google. And it’s now even more critical when it comes to mobile, often using cellular data and different signal strength, all factors that might extend the wait for a website to load on the small screen. Websites that are created according to Google’s mobile-first indexing practices are likely to improve their search engine performance. Not to mention, if you make people wait for your store to load, some of them will just leave and go somewhere else.
Partner up with a payment provider for an omnichannel experience
Unless you’re a mobile app, going mobile-first doesn’t mean you should neglect desktop altogether. In fact, both are important (though your stats will tell you best what to focus on.) It’s best if you can offer multiple payment methods that account for your target audience’s preferences (taking into account their locally preferred payment methods, etc.) The more popular payment methods you offer, the better user experience you’re providing. And the easier it is for your customers to pay you.
Decide between a mobile app or a mobile-first website
Consider if it makes sense for your business to create a dedicated mobile app people can use, with integrated in-app payments. A lot will depend on your audience’s preferences, so do thorough research first before starting an expensive app development process.
The sooner you act, the better
There’s no going back, and m-commerce is here to stay. More – it’s going to keep growing and slowly become the norm (at least until we invent something else when it comes to digital payments.)
So analyze the tendency with your own audience, including what devices they use, and adjust the experience to what’s bound to bring you profits. It might be a time-consuming process, but it’s inevitable if you want to stay competitive in today’s mobile world.
And If you’re looking for a mobile payment solution provider, get in touch with our team to discuss your options.