mCommerce and the Future Of Retail
Shopping looks stunningly different today than it did just five years ago. Sure, you can still walk into a mall and buy groceries, clothing, and other items, but how you shop has changed. The use of mobile phones, which now play a greater role in product research, has opened new possibilities for shoppers.
Shopping On The Go
The prevalence of mobile device usage in ecommerce has led to a new term: mCommerce. The term does not refer to an entirely new technology or way of shopping. Rather, it simply means the use of mobile devices almost exclusively, or predominantly, in a customer's shopping experience.
A number of activities are included in mCommerce:
- Shopping - Shoppers like the convenience of shopping from anywhere, and mobile phones are ideal for this.
- Banking - Banks and financial services providers now make it possible to use their services from just a mobile phone, no desktop computer required.
- Entertainment - Games and entertainment apps enable a new world of entertainment that happens without going to the movies.
Don't Let mCommerce Leave You Behind
For retailers and ecommerce merchants, mCommerce presents opportunities and risks. As noted by TechPluto
, the global population of smartphone users has skyrocketed in recent years, to over 2 billion.
Not all retailers sell to a worldwide audience, but, chances are, a good chunk of your customer base is visiting your storefront via mobile phones. Stores that prioritize the mobile experience are likely to edge out those that miss the mcommerce boat.
What's Driving mCommerce
Mcommerce has exploded not just based on cool factor alone. Rather, the spread of mCommerce relies on a combination of convenience for shoppers and growing technical capabilities of mobile phones.
Taken together, this has resulted in a shopping experience that's often faster and superior to shopping in-store or even on a regular old computer.
New Technology Enabling Mobile Commerce
The world of the "smart phone" really entered the mainstream with Steve Jobs' unveiling
of Apple's iPhone. Before then, there had been "smart" phones with computing capabilities, such as the BlackBerry, but the iPhone unleashed developers' creativity.
The progress over the years has led to phones today that can handle a wide range of computing tasks. These include ecommerce behaviours, with apps now available for:
- In-app payments
- Mobile banking
- Mobile transfers
- Electronic tickets
Ecommerce sites, too, have evolved to make shopping on a mobile phone not only possible, but superior to the alternatives.
Faster, More Convenient Shopper Experience
Major tech companies are among the players invested in making sure shoppers can complete just about any commercial task from their phones. This has seen enhancements to the shopping experience through chatbots as well as messenger platforms by Facebook, Apple, and others.
The result is a faster shopping experience for mobile phone users. The accessibility of mobile phones makes mCommerce a particularly convenient form of shopping, which feeds back into user adoption.
3 mCommerce Challenges for Retailers
Any time there is a tidal technology shift, some players can gain significant advantages while others, who get caught flat-footed, lag behind. Think of the way that Amazon's early adoption of ecommerce has placed it at an advantage compared to traditional retailers for an example of this in action.
Fortunately, mCommerce has been talked about for years now so retailers have plenty of knowledge about it. However, some challenges remain.
Price Monitoring and Price Comparisons
One of the key challenges retailers are becoming familiar with is that of price comparisons. Shoppers on mobile phones tend to be internet-savvy, and they regularly check your competitors' prices to find the best deals
We recommend going on the offense and keeping tabs on your competitors' prices yourself. This way you are in the know and can plan how to counter price movements in the market. Our software, Competitor Monitor, can give you the edge
in retail price monitoring.
Fragmentation of Mobile Devices and Payment Methods
The fragmentation in the mobile devices market makes development and user experience optimization more challenging. There are multiple operating systems to design for: Android, iOS, as well as mobile websites.
Yet another challenge is the use of different mobile payments providers, which can vary based on region.
As a retailer, you must carefully address these challenges in order to support your mobile shoppers.
UX Optimization for mCommerce
A key term you will hear mentioned together with mCommerce, and ecommerce generally, is "UX." This is short for "user experience." You might think that your website, app, or other storefront already offers a good shopping experience, but UX requires being intentional about the experience.
Mobile UX in mCommerce
Good UX brings several important benefits to your store, including lower cart abandonment rates, higher conversion rates, and positive brand image. Needless to say, if your store is hard to shop from, consumers will view your brand rather negatively.
Given the small screen area on mobile devices, designing for simplicity is a good rule of thumb. Focus on making your store easy to navigate, with an accessible menu and product pages that are easy to read.
In addition, make your mobile apps and sites quick to load. Distracting popups should be eliminated.
Checkout UX is Just as Important
It's easy to focus on product pages alone and neglect your checkout pages. After all, you might think once customers go to the checkout page, they will buy. This is not the case, since carts are regularly abandoned. Streamline checkout by making it as fast and easy to use as possible.
Is Desktop Shopping Dead?
You might think that the desktop is dead, but you'd be wrong. While mCommerce is popular with shoppers these days, desktop shopping is alive and well. In fact, for many online retailers, it still accounts for the majority share of their revenue.
Desktop Share Of Revenue
According to Smart Insights, desktop shopping accounts for only 32% of traffic now but it still accounts for 56% of revenue.
Mobile, with 53% of traffic, brings in only 32% of revenue.
This tells us that shoppers like to browse stores at their convenience but, for really serious buys, such as big ticket items, desktop is where the game is at. The reality, however, is that the share of revenue coming from mobile devices should continue to trend up over time.
Optimize for Both Mobile and Desktop
In order for your store to thrive in the prevailing shopping environment, you need to optimize all your touchpoints with the shopper. Deciding to improve your store's mCommerce capability does not require ditching your desktop shopping optimization. This is because both forms of ecommerce play an important role.
Even if a user only browses your store on mobile, he or she might check out later on a desktop computer. Neglecting one or the other will ruin the shopper's experience and hurt sales.
mCommerce Present and Future
The retail landscape is changing to include more mobile shoppers and the increasing adoption of mCommerce. For retailers, catching this wave of change requires making the business shifts necessary to meet consumers' evolving shopping behaviours.
This includes consumers' desire for convenient access to products and full shopping capabilities from their mobile phones.
To win the game, you need to step up UX optimization across all storefronts, including mobile and desktop, for a pleasant buyer experience.