How Mobile Commerce (mCommerce) is Changing Online Retailing

If you currently offer an eCommerce site, then you’ll know how important it is to optimise your site for mobile users. For online retailers, mobile sales can be a major source of revenue, and if you offer a high quality mobile experience, can be a point of difference between you and your competitors.

With the advent of Mobile Commerce, commonly referred to as mCommerce, online retailers now face the challenge of understanding new platforms, developing content in multiple languages, and testing for multiple devices. This of course means that to play in the online retail space, you need to take the time to really understand what your customers expect from you, and how you can offer the best possible service.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through the fundamentals of Mobile Commerce how you can begin to drive more sales online via mobile channels, and why you can't afford to ignore this new frontier. Whether you’re looking to capture more sales from mobile channels or simply boost your visitors' time on site, we’ll show you how to improve your mCommerce offering out of sight.

A basic summary of mCommerce

Before we get started its important outline the difference between mCommerce and eCommerce. To put it simply, mCommerce is the process of making an online purchase via a mobile device (i.e. Smartphone, Tablet or Smartwatch), and eCommerce is the process of making an online purchase via your PC (i.e. Laptop or Desktop). However, eCommerce really is the umbrella of online retailing, so mCommerce does sit under this banner. Confused?

The big opportunity in Mobile Commerce right now

A couple of years ago comScore published some interesting insights regarding user behaviour on mobile devices.

The research undertaken by comScore looked at the time spent on mobile devices compared to that of desktop devices which resulted in actual expenditure. This was interesting for two reasons.

1. Users were spending more time on mobile devices per session

2. Yet they were making less purchases on mobile devices, they preferred desktop?

This strange trend really says one thing in my mind. At the time of this survey, mobile user experience was really only beginning to develop.

This of course presents a major opportunity for those looking to sell on mobile (i.e. everyone); making it clear that if you can improve your mobile user experience, you'll likely sell more items more regularly.

As shown in the comScore data, mobile use had overtaken that of desktop use back in 2015, with this trend continuing today. So what's the big opportunity? Easy. Capitalise on the mobile eyeballs by providing a high quality user experience.

The quick wins can you make in the Mobile Commerce space

So if success in the Mobile Commerce space is largely due to providing a high quality user experience, what are some quick wins you make? Below is a list of quick and easy ways you can improve your mobile commerce offering that will ensure your customers keep coming back for more.

1. Improve the load-time of your website

If you’re looking to ensure your visitors stay on your site and are comfortable making a purchase from you when using their mobile devices, the easiest way to do this is by reassuring them that your site is of high quality by offering a fast-loading site.

For online consumers there’s nothing worse than a slow-loading user experience. In fact, in most cases when a potential consumer is frustrated by a slow-loading UX, they leave the site in question and head to a competitor.

To avoid this, you can run a handy test on your site using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. I’m a big fan of this tool and we’ve used it at OSE to improve the load times of our pages and mobile user experience dramatically. That being said, keeping a close eye on the insights this tool gives you is an ongoing process as you continue to develop your site. Google Page Speed Insights is a great way to benchmark and improve your mobile site performance, and I strongly recommend it for all types of sites.

2. Ensure your website is ‘responsive’

If you’re looking to maintain a successful mCommerce site, you’re definitely going to want to ensure your site is mobile responsive.

Customers on mobile devices expect a well-thought out website design, one that works perfectly on desktop devices and on their mobile devices…so you better ‘get responsive’!

Responsive website design is a relatively simple process to implement, and any professional web design agency should have no trouble assisting you to implement an engaging site design that performs well across all devices. However, beware. If your site fails to provide a strong UX on mobile devices as a result of a poorly thought out responsive design, this can be catastrophic, so make sure spend some time undertaking a review of your service in this area.

3. Map your user journey

One of the most important aspects of mobile commerce is ensuring that your user journey is intuitive and only asks your users to undertake a handful of steps to make a purchase.

Before eCommerce was eCommerce, Amazon patented the 1-click checkout experience. This is just one great example of innovations in this space worth reading about.

However, for the majority of mobile commerce retailers, ensuring that you offer a seamless navigational experience is a great place to start. This should include:

To achieve this, we recommend using tools such as Invision or simply white-boarding the flow of your user experience. This will iron out any glaring issues which can in many cases drastically boost the number of conversions you see on your mobile site.

Adopting a ‘mobile-first’ strategy

Because web developers and application owners have historically built desktop solutions first, then adjusted those solutions to suit mobile devices, adopting a mobile-first way of building new products and services can be challenging. However, if you’re really going to take the mobile commerce space head on, you’re going to have to think much more mobile-first than you ever have.

Typically, when a new website project is signed off, the design phase begins by developing a home page and all other subsequent screens. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, however the reality is this is commonly completed for desktop devices first, with mobile UX a secondary task.

A mobile-first strategy is as the name suggests, starting with your mobile visuals first, and working backwards. This can seem like a major change in the way you think about your application design and implementation, but once you step through this process for the first time, you’ll soon find it barely any different to that of a desktop-first approach, and will actually produce a much greater user experience across both platforms.

How Mobile Commerce can offer you more

We live in an age of instant gratification, and have for some time now. This is in now small part due to the advances in real-time Internet content, and the ability to access them on the go via your mobile devices. With this in mind, wouldn’t you think this presents a number of opportunities that online retailers could take advantage of? I would.

Just think, mobile commerce can allow you to appeal to your customers constant need for instant gratification. That small sense of satisfaction when they make a purchase, are up-sold to because they’re making a purchase on their mobile device, or are convinced to make a purchase because of a limited time offer; all these emotional ploys work extremely well in mobile commerce and can work very well for your hip-pocket if you take the time to execute them effectively.

How should I do this? Easy.

We recommend starting with one of the above mentioned purchase triggers and building your marketing functions around that trigger. This way you can begin to refine your value proposition and then move onto handling a second or third trigger of this nature when your marketing base is running smoothly.

What’s the future for traditional eCommerce?

eCommerce as a concept isn’t going anywhere, however the priority for many online retailers is likely to shift heavily towards mobile commerce in the next few years.

As our smart phones get larger, we continue to work more flexibly, and our office locations continue to vary, every sign is pointing to the fact that mobile-first retailing is the future.

That being said, to develop, maintain, and administer eCommerce systems is likely to remain a task which is predominantly undertaken on desktop devices. Curious huh?

Because desktop devices allow us to build new technologies more readily, are more powerful, and allow us to spend longer online with less physical barriers, the future of traditional eCommerce at least in the sense of the lifecycle is unlikely to change. However considering that the user goals online retailers need to consider is changing by the day, this space is extremely agile right now and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Summing up the the benefits of a proper mCommerce strategy

If you’re planning to enter the eCommerce market, you need to think mobile when undertaking your sales activities.

Users are spending more time on mobile devices which presents a major selling opportunity for retailers, as this is seen as more of leisure activity than sitting at your desktop which is synonymous with work. The opportunity to play to the intent and mindset of your users when they access your site on their mobile device is huge, you just need to begin optimising your UX to become more mobile-friendly and you'll be well on your way to increased sales.

If you’re looking to revamp your mobile user experience or are looking to develop a mobile-first mCommerce strategy, feel free to contact the team at OSE.