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When was the last time you bought anything online? Did you make the purchase using your desktop? Your tablet? Or your smartphone? With a mobile device in hand, you can efficiently complete the checkout as long as you have an Internet connection. That is exactly why mobile commerce is gaining popularity. Taking the United States as an example, retail sales growth of m-commerce is forecasted to outnumber that of electronic commerce and in-store, according to Statista.

What is mobile commerce?

Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is a simple concept. It is a subset of electronic commerce, referring to the use of wireless handheld devices for conducting transactions online. When you use wireless devices such as smartphones or tablets to transfer money via mobile banking, buy goods and services from inside an application or virtual marketplace like Amazon or use digital wallets like Apple Pay making payments, you become a part of the billion-dollar market.

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Mobile commerce inforgraphic

Read more: What is electronic commerce marketing?

The growth of mobile commerce has accelerated in recent years. According to Statista, the share of mobile retail commerce sales has increased dramatically.

In 2017, m-commerce only made up 58.9% of all retail e-commerce sales while the number in 2021 was forecasted to skyrocket to 72.9%.

-Statista 

It means most people who shop online use their mobile devices instead of desktops.

The reason behind the trend is obvious. First, mobile devices are becoming more available to users. DataReportal states in a report that there are 5.29 billion unique mobile users as of October 2021, which represents 67.1% of the entire worldwide population, and the number is still increasing at a rate of 1.9% per year. Second, completing purchases on mobile devices is easy. As technology advances, the process of transfer or payment is simplified. Once everything is set up, people can enjoy a seamless online transaction with just one touch. The convenience thus becomes the main reason why people complete even the simplest tasks in their everyday lives. 

using mobile phone

Photo by Cup of Couple from Pexels

What are the differences between m-commerce and e-commerce?

As stated above, m-commerce is a subset of e-commerce. E-commerce is a relatively broad concept, referring to the buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet, while m-commerce specifically refers to the activities performed via mobile devices such as smartphones using wireless networks. In other words, transactions conducted on desktops with Internet connection at a fixed location fall under the category of e-commerce but not m-commerce. Usually, m-commerce transactions tend to be done with a few clicks and the process is more straightforward.

Read more: Running an online business? Check out the 10 best e-commerce platforms!

Why should your business care about mobile commerce?

You might think people were first introduced to the internet through traditional desktop computers. In fact, most people in Southeast Asia went straight to mobile devices. This up-and-coming population with increasing purchasing power simply went online with mobile phones without ever having touched a traditional computer. Statistics showed behaviors are different in different parts of our world. 

90 percent of Southeast Asians get online primarily through smartphones. 

If Asia is in your business plan, mobile commerce is your priority. 

Some trends are short-lived but so far there are no signs showing that this one will fade away anytime soon. On the contrary, it is becoming increasingly prevalent. It is also worth noting that mobile payment users spend twice as much as those not using mobile payments and tend to shop more often, according to a report from Bain & Co. Mobile commerce is definitely an opportunity that businesses of any size could not afford to miss.

What are the pros and cons of mobile commerce?

✅It creates a global customer base

The number of mobile users is still increasing steadily and it will only go up unless new cutting-edge technologies are introduced to make revolutionary changes. If businesses embrace m-commerce, they can reach customers from anywhere in the world effortlessly as long as their potential clients own a mobile device and even open up rural markets where people have to travel miles to purchase essential goods. In the world of m-commerce, physical distance is no longer a barrier.. This ultimately eliminates most of the obstacles and brings your businesses directly to the door.

✅It allows more access to user data

People value privacy more than ever before but even so businesses can obtain more data in the environment of m-commerce compared to the traditional commerce setting. You can possibly get a glimpse of your customer demographics and their buying behavior patterns to develop marketing strategies or make necessary adjustments to generate more conversions. For instance, recovering abandoned carts is something that can hardly be done in physical stores. When you are selling on mobile devices, a message or a notification will do the magic.

✅It saves a lot of time and costs

Frustrated by long queues, customers sometimes just walk away without making any purchases. When people shop on their mobile devices, they can finish checkout within seconds, even if it is a large order. Making repeat purchases is also easier when order histories are often saved. For businesses, they can reach out to customers faster and launch more targeted campaigns via mobile apps thus reducing marketing costs significantly. Companies can also use data collected to create forecasts, making inventory management so much easier.

Read more: Why and how should you start taking social commerce seriously?

woman on bed playing mobile phone

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

❎Technology access varies across regions

Businesses cannot ignore the fact that a certain population might not have access to mobile devices although the number is going to decrease gradually. It is one of the reasons why some businesses decide to at least keep a number of brick-and-mortar stores to maintain their physical presence. It also takes time and money for companies to develop mobile-friendly websites and apps to make selling online accessible all the time. Plus, there can be connectivity issues if fast internet is not available.

❎It involves security risks

Consumers are more aware of the risks involved when they shop online. Some of them may be less willing to share their personal information such as card number and bank account number. To gain trust and overcome the hurdle, it is inevitable for businesses to invest a sizable amount of money in maintaining a secure network and database to avoid any catastrophes. Still, well-established enterprises can only equip themselves with all the tools available but still cannot completely eradicate all the l risks. It is even harder for SMEs with limited resources.

❎It lacks personal touch

When a shopper visits a physical store, customer representatives are present to provide support and give advice according to their specific needs. But on websites or mobile apps, it is not easy to offer the same kind of personal touch. Despite the fact that product information, return policy, and consumer discounts are all listed on the screen, those who are not familiar with the setting of m-commerce may not find the answers that they are looking for and turn away.

4 tips to embrace mobile commerce

Optimize website design

Mobile apps make lives a lot easier. According to eMarketer, apps account for over 90% of internet time on smartphones. Shoppers tend to buy on apps instead of websites but building a custom app takes more effort. What businesses can do is optimize the website for mobile access so that customers are not navigating an awkwardly sized website that does not fit the screen. 

Provide various payment options

Driven by the stronger app integrations, digital wallets are more commonly used and furthers the development of m-commerce. While many consumers own digital wallets, not everyone uses the same one therefore it is crucial for businesses to provide a variety of payment options. The checkout process should always be kept simple, perfectly with just one click, but you should also bear in mind that some options may not be available in certain areas.

Shopify businesses owners: please check how SleekFlow can complete your Shopify x Social commerce journey!

using mobile phone for contactless payment

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Keep content short and precise

The screen size of mobile devices varies but usually it is smaller than that of desktops. This makes browsing through websites using a mobile device a bit different as the last thing businesses want is to create visual strains. Keep the necessary information only and use shorter text instead of long paragraphs. Images and videos are useful but having too many will increase the load time, making potential customers lose appetite. 

Offer unique user experience

Customers are so used to having advertisement emails flooding the mailbox and most of the time they find it annoying. But what if those emails are promoting what they really want? That will be another story. Instead of spamming every visitor to your website with the same call-to-action, tailor them to suit their needs. It will be even better if you offer real-time support via live chat or messaging tools like SleekFlow does. A good customer experience also means more likely to attract and keep recurring customers. 

We believe a great online shopping experience can lead the customers to our physical stores. It creates synergy.

Man Leung

Executive Director, CityLink

See how the local O2O electronics chain store CityLInk used SleekFlow to engage with their online and offline customers! 

Want to communicate better with your customers on multiple channels?

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