I often find myself doing a double-take when someone refers to mobile commerce as “the next big thing.”
For me this implies that mobile commerce is a trend, a passing fad that will soon be forgotten, or superceded by something else.
Is mobile commerce different to ecommerce?
Yes, and no.
Mobile commerce is a natural progression of ecommerce.
On some levels they are nearly identical, but there are also important differences between the two.
As a result, you will see me use ecommerce instead of mobile commerce a few times throughout this article, and you are welcome to do the same.
But I will only interchange them when referring to the aspects that overlap; there will be times when only mobile commerce will do.
Why does mobile commerce matter?
Mobile ecommerce sales account for 34.5% of total ecommerce sales in 2017, and that number is growing.
By now your website – and online store – should already be accessible on mobile devices, but that doesn’t automatically mean your business is ready for mobile commerce.
And as eMarketers numbers suggest, you could be missing out on a lot of sales.
Per DynamicYield, “Only 12% of consumers find shopping on the mobile web convenient“. That’s a lot of room for improvement.
More importantly, our use of mobile is influencing our buying decisions even when we are in a physical brick-and-mortar store.
One-third of our decision to purchase is influenced by looking up additional information on a product via our mobile device.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start from the beginning.
What is mobile commerce?
Mobile commerce, also called m-commerce or mcommerce, includes any monetary transaction completed using a mobile device.
It is an advancement of ecommerce, enabling people to buy and sell goods or services from almost anywhere, simply using a mobile phone or tablet device.
But mobile commerce is more than just a simple evolution of ecommerce.
It has also served as a trigger for new industries and services, or helped existing ones grow, including:
- 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.
Are there different types of mobile commerce?
While m-commerce covers a wide variety of transactions, they can all be categorized as one of three types:
1. Mobile shopping.
Mostly similar to ecommerce, but accessible via a mobile device. Mobile shopping is now possible through mobile optimized websites, dedicated apps, and even social media platforms.
2. Mobile banking.
Not too different to online banking, though you may find some transaction types are limited or restricted on mobile devices. Mobile banking usually involves a dedicated app, though some banks have started experimenting with the use of chatbots and messaging apps.
3. Mobile payments.
There are so many diverse mobile payment options that we have chosen to cover them in detail further in this article.
As a business owner, and user of BigCommerce, your exposure and interest in mobile commerce would mostly relate to shopping and payments, which is what the rest of this article will focus on.
Advantages (and Disadvantages) of Mobile Commerce
There are disadvantages to many forms of doing business, but this should never be viewed as a significant hindrance.
The advantages usually outnumber the disadvantages, and there are ways to overcome many of the pitfalls, especially when you know what some of them are.
Let’s start with the good, first.
Common Benefits of Mobile Commerce
1. Better overall experience for customers.
Ecommerce already made shopping more convenient.
Consumers were given access to:
- A wider variety of products.
- More competitive pricing.
- All without ever having to step away from their computer.
With mobile commerce, they still have these benefits, but now they don’t even need a desktop computer.
New mobile commerce applications that enhance the customer experience even further include:
- Augmented reality, with Ikea and Sephora among top retailers using augmented reality apps to complement their mobile commerce business
- Chatbots and messenger apps which making it easier for businesses to interact with their customers using apps and services their customers already use and love.
2. Phenomenal growth potential.
eMarketer expects global ecommerce sales to reach $4.058 trillion by 2020, representing 15% of total retail sales.
3. A true omni-channel experience.
We’ve also been referencing the importance of listing your product wherever consumers are already spending their time. This is increasingly known as contextual commerce, a more strategic take on the overarching omni-channel term.
Omni-channel is about being where your customers are, and making it possible for them to buy what they want.
4. Variety of payment options.
With new mobile payment solutions emerging, it is now possible to offer customers a truly diverse range of payment options.
This doesn’t mean we’ve moved beyond “cash or card,” but mobile commerce has given up mobile wallets, which make one-click checkouts possible in more than one store.