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Understanding mobile commerce and why you should use it as a strategy

mobile commerce ecommerce

Online shopping or eCommerce has seen immense growth in the last five years—and much of this can be attributed to mobile commerce or m-commerce. In fact, a report from eMarketer found that eCommerce growth as a digital category in 2021 was largely driven by m-commerce, with mobile expected to make up about 73 percent of eCommerce sales.

This significant growth is the result of two trends. The first being the fast-accelerating number of mobile users. As of 2021, there are 5.22 billion unique mobile phone users around the world, representing two-thirds of the worldwide population.

Growth in m-commerce is also heavily driven by convenience. According to eCommerce personalization company Dynamic Yield, more than 70 percent of consumers shop on mobile devices largely because of the convenience it offers.

As these trends continue, it becomes clearer that m-commerce is here to stay. Mobile devices have become central to how we do business, form relationships, and take on our shopping lists.

Definition of mobile commerce (m-commerce)

Mobile commerce, AKA m-commerce, is a subset of eCommerce models that involves conducting commercial transactions via handheld devices. With m-commerce, users can make a transaction anywhere there's access to a wireless ISP (internet service provider) and a charged phone. This, naturally, has expanded the amount of idle moments that become shopping opportunities for consumers.

Mobile purchases happen over the span of a few clicks, while eCommerce transactions completed through a desktop interface can often be more cumbersome and complex.

In understanding mobile commerce, it’s important to note a critical difference between eCommerce and its handheld cousin. While eCommerce focuses on the overall shopping experience, often at the expense of simplicity, mobile devices optimize shopping moments for speed and checkout.

While technically different, the future of eCommerce lies in m-commerce's rise, with the latter expected to soon upend the dominance of the other. It’s a trend you can’t ignore if you have an online business.

3 types of mobile-first commerce

M-commerce can be broken down into three key categories. They include mobile shopping, mobile banking, and mobile payments.

01. Mobile Shopping

Under this commerce umbrella, a customer is able to purchase a product from a mobile device using an eCommerce website or mobile app. A fast-growing subcategory of mobile shopping happens to be app-based commerce.

02. Mobile Banking

Mobile banking is what it sounds like. It involves the execution of financial transactions by on-the-go customers on mobile tech. This is typically done through a secure, dedicated app provided by a global banking institution.

03. Mobile Payments

Mobile payments aid users in buying products in-person using a mobile device. Digital wallets, such as Google or Apple Pay, allow a customer to purchase items without needing physical cash or coins.

advantages of m-commerce mobile commerce

Advantages of mobile commerce

The advantages of m-commerce are numerous, but no benefit is more powerful than its ability to extend a business’ reach to new or current customers.

For example, coupons and discounts can be easily and instantly sent from retailers to customers, and personalized shopping experiences can further connect a brand with its audience.

With m-commerce, brands can drive sales both online and off. The portability of mobile devices allows customers to visit a physical store while engaging with online-first capabilities that bolster the shopper journey, like customer reviews, comparison shopping, expanded inventory, and stock visibility at nearby stores.

Other benefits include insightful customer data, fast browsing and transactions, and increased customer engagement.

Consumer data and insights can be especially helpful for brand’s that still have brick-and-mortar retail, as they can connect with a customer from the moment they walk into a store.

Convenience is one of the largest driving factors behind growth in m-commerce. M-commerce offers faster transactions with features like one-click buying and mobile payments.

And for those brands without a mobile app, advanced technology such as a PWA storefront can turn your website into an app-like interface. This is important as a slow-loading web page will quickly turn away online shoppers away.

To sum up, m-commerce’s ability to offer more use-centric shopping experiences at increased speed is what makes it such a preferred shopping format.

Disadvantages of mobile commerce

Companies have realized the immense power of m-commerce, shifting their strategy and resources to the mobile space. However, the growing field still comes with it challenges.

Ad fraud risk is probably the biggest knock against m-commerce, as most businesses simply not equipped to take it on comprehensively. Ensuring compliance with Media Rating Council and Trustworthy Accountability Group standards should be your first step in handling the risks of fraud in mobile marketing.

In that same vein, customer privacy remains a thorny challenge for eCommerce types of businesses. As customers share more and more sensitive information and data while shopping, sometimes unknowingly, businesses carry an added responsibility to safeguard said info. In today's environment, businesses must adopt airtight user protection terms and learn to be hyper-transparent with customers about what data is being collected, stored, shared and/or sold.

Examples of mobile commerce

01. Mobile Apps

Research indicates that today’s consumers mainly use their mobile devices to make purchases and rarely visit a brand’s website on a mobile browser. In fact, a study by Statista found that 85 percent of online shoppers use mobile apps instead of mobile browsers.

Coupons and special offers are the number one incentive for mobile users to download retail apps. The second is loyalty and reward programs, which not only influence shoppers to download your app, but incentivize them to return to your store (or online store) to make future purchases.

If your eCommerce business does not already have a native mobile app, now is the time to sign up for one. Wix offers a branded app solution that can help you on this front.

02. One-Click Ordering

Invented by Amazon, one-click ordering allows online shoppers to check out in a breeze. With one-click ordering, you click one button and all information is automatically filled on checkout forms using customer data from previous purchases.

The case for one-click buying is in the convenience. It saves time, while making the eCommerce checkout experience more seamless and less likely to lead to abandonment carts.

03. Social Commerce

Mobile users are using their devices to access social media every day, which means it’s often easier to get the attention of your customer there than on your own eCommerce website.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok are making the social commerce buying experience seamless. These popular platforms have made it easier for consumers to make direct purchases from merchants without ever having to leave the comfort of the app.

eCommerce brands should expect more consumers than ever to be looking to buy directly from social media content in 2022.

04. Voice Commerce

Voice commerce, or voice shopping, is the practice of using voice commands to shop online and place orders instead of typing or making in-store purchases. You can use the built-in voice feature in any smartphone or smart speaker assistant products like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Microsoft.

05. Chatbots

According to some estimates, global consumer retail spend via chatbots is projected to hit $142 billion by 2024. This demand is being fueled by shoppers' expectation of 24/7 availability of customer service and sales reps. Thus, merchants must respond in kind by adopting chatbots and virtual assistants to field questions and customer intent. Wix Chat, found on the Wix App Market, is just one tool merchants can turn to to meet consumer needs.

06. VR & AR

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) continue to gain traction in the eCommerce space, especially with the advent of filters in the beauty space, or try-on technologies in the fashion world.

AR and VR allow brands to replicate the real-world experience provided by physical stores, further reducing the chance of lost sales or returned products.

07. Mobile Payments

With Apple Pay, supported by Wix eCommerce, and Android Pay allowing customers to make purchases without needing to carry or swipe cards, mobile commerce continues to grow. Another growing use of mobile payment technology is for sending money from mobile device to mobile device. Venmo and PayPal, for example, are mobile payment providers that allow users to send money directly to friends, family members, and colleagues.

Should you have an m-commerce strategy?

The size of opportunity in leveraging m-commerce has never been clearer, but effectively taking advantage of its growth is still a real challenge. Adopting a clear strategy could be what sets you apart from the competition in coming years, starting with having the right marketing and technology partners in place that can effectively extend your audience in a consumer-friendly and privacy-safe environment.

Another significant opportunity to consider is the actual shopping experience on mobile. In addition to security concerns, many consumers cite poor website design such as pages and links being too small as an impediment to mobile shopping.

M-commerce is only one part of your strategy when you are starting a business. The most successful eCommerce retailers adopt a customer-first omnichannel retail strategy that ensures their mobile real estate bolsters other sales channels. Ultimately, your m-commerce strategy should hold true to the spirit of mobile in that it meets your customers where they are and offers them a convenient yet memorable experience.

Mobile Commerce FAQ

What are the four types of mobile commerce?

There are four main types of mobile commerce:

  • Mobile payment apps: These apps allow users to make payments for goods or services using their mobile devices.

  • Mobile commerce apps: These apps allow users to browse and purchase goods or services directly from their mobile devices.

  • Social commerce: This type of commerce takes place on social media platforms. Users can browse and purchase goods or services from businesses that are promoted on social media.

  • QR codes: These codes can be scanned using a mobile device to access information about a product or service, or to make a purchase.

What are the benefits of mobile commerce?

What is the future of m-commerce?

Is the m-commerce market growing?

Geraldine Feehily

Bogar Alonso

Head of Outbound Marketing, Wix eCommerce

Bogar leads thought leadership and outbound marketing for Wix eCommerce. He has an extremely soft spot for all things eCommerce, retail, tech, content, and marketing.

Wix eCommerce Expand your eCommerce reach
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