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Everything You Need to Know About Mobile Commerce

An illustration showing someone making a mobile commerce purchase on their phone.
M-commerce is more than optimizing your website for mobile use. Customers want more features and easier systems, and businesses are prioritizing accordingly. [Adobe Stock | Sensvector]

Get the complete guide to m-commerce and learn how to optimize your site for mobile shopping.

If you have a mobile device, you could take it out right now — from wherever you are — and buy anything from a carton of milk to a luxury car (yes, really). That’s the power of mobile commerce. Mobile commerce (also known as m-commerce) has become the preferred purchasing channel across industries, regions, demographics, price points, and more. In fact, 79% of global Cyber Week traffic came from mobile. 

•M-commerce retail sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $710 billion by 2025.
•M-commerce transactions make up 60% of global ecommerce sales.
•At least 79% of smartphone users have bought something using their mobile device in the last six months.

What is mobile commerce?

Mobile commerce is the process of buying and selling goods or services using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Untethering the shopping process from a laptop has created enormous benefits for shoppers and businesses. Shoppers can find the products they want using a device they can take anywhere, and businesses can sell to a globally connected customer base.

Mobile commerce is just one part of an omni-channel experience

Here’s how to create seamless shopping — wherever you sell.

The different types of mobile commerce 

M-commerce is more than optimizing your website for mobile use (though that’s a huge part of it). Customers want more features and easier systems, and businesses are prioritizing accordingly:

Mobile payment applications: Shoppers can download these apps to their smartphones and use them to send money to friends or to pay for goods and services. Think: Paying at a register with your phone, using contactless payment and mobile wallets instead of credit cards or cash. These same payment applications let you check out in one click when you’re shopping online.

Mobile commerce apps: These apps let users research and buy products from their devices without the need for an internet browser. Many customers will download an app created by a brand they know to make their shopping experience smoother. In fact, a staggering 76% of consumers use mobile apps to engage with companies. These apps let shoppers track and manage their orders, make returns, and save items for future purchases without having to sign in every time. Due to the convenience and speed of mobile shopping apps, they are quickly becoming a preferred channel for customers.

Social commerce: This is the process of buying and selling goods and services through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. Global social commerce sales are estimated to reach $2.9 trillion by 2026 — so it’s no wonder that businesses are throwing their weight behind social commerce strategies to get a piece of the pie. More than half of business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies (58% and 55%, respectively) are investing in social media channels today.

QR codes: Scan one of these familiar square graphics and you’ll be taken to a brand’s landing page. These are fast and efficient (for you and your customers), and they are especially useful when it comes to promotions. QR codes can be implemented just about anywhere, and they can help you quickly generate sales.

As mobile commerce becomes increasingly popular, it’s important for businesses to create mobile-friendly websites and apps to reach their target audience and give them stellar experiences on mobile.

No matter what device a customer uses, shoppers want a simple and intuitive experience. From browsing products to managing their cart to purchasing, every step must be convenient and easy. Very, very easy. When mobile commerce is done right, there are huge advantages for you and your customers.

The benefits of mobile commerce

When properly implemented, mobile commerce offers shoppers and merchants huge benefits, including:

1. Say hello to huge growth potential.

More than half (52%) of all global ecommerce traffic comes from mobile devices. In 2023, global mobile commerce sales reached $2.2 trillion. As the number of people that use and own mobile devices across the globe steadily increases, m-commerce will only continue to grow. Mobile commerce offers a huge opportunity for brands to extend their reach, break into new markets, and drive more sales.

2. Convenience is key. 

With m-commerce, customers can buy your products from anywhere. They don’t need to physically enter a store or wait until they’re at home in front of a computer. Imagine you’re on vacation and forget to pack your swimsuit. No problem! You can order one from your smartphone and have it delivered right to the hotel. Mobile shopping has become so convenient that customers are more open to making purchases quickly; they feel more empowered and can freely go about their day.

3. Improve ‌customer experience.

Mobile commerce also opens up opportunities to enhance the customer experience. For example, mobile shopping apps can save your payment information, so customers don’t need to find a credit card every time they want to make a purchase. Instead, they can pay using a digital wallet — with one tap of a button. These features remove the friction from shopping and increase customer satisfaction.  

4. Differentiate through personalization.

Mobile commerce apps can track shoppers’ preferences and provide personalized recommendations. This makes it easier for shoppers to find products and creates a level of personalization that increases brand loyalty and trust. And that’s key: 65% of shoppers said that they would stay loyal to a brand if it offered a more personalized experience. 

5. Deliver a true omni-channel experience.

Some 71% of customers will begin their journey on one channel and finalize their purchase on another. Mobile commerce lets you be present at critical moments of the omni-channel customer journey. Whether it’s discovering a product on social media, browsing items on your shopping app, or finding an item at a physical store and researching it online, mobile customer journeys can start from anywhere and involve multiple platforms and channels. With mobile commerce best practices, your brand can stay top of mind.  

Mobile commerce best practices

Shoppers want a simple and intuitive experience, no matter what device they’re using. From browsing products to managing their cart to purchasing, every step must be convenient and easy. Here are the top mobile commerce best practices and how to put the customer first as you build and enhance m-commerce experiences:

Start with security

Data security and privacy are top of mind for your customers, and they should be for businesses as well. Today, 30% of smartphone users won’t make a purchase on their device because they don’t feel secure using mobile payment services. To build trust with mobile users, make security a priority and be transparent about how you will use the data they consent to share. Most customers (71%) say they are more likely to trust a company with their personal data if its use were clearly explained. When customers give your company permission to access their data through their mobile devices, your business is held to a greater level of responsibility.  Protecting personal data must be at the core of all your design decisions. Transparency and compliance with regulations is non-negotiable.

What you can do: Mobile commerce apps and digital wallets can offer a greater level of security. Smartphones allow app developers to implement two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication‌, and biometric security tokens such as fingerprints, facial recognition, and retina scans. Use these tools to secure customer data and payment information.  

Data and analytics are your best friends

Personalization is important on any channel, but mobile commerce offers unique ways to tailor the shopping experience. Thanks to location sharing and other datapoints specific to mobile, you can create hyper-personalized experiences and send shoppers real-time, targeted offers that are uniquely relevant and helpful. Mobile commerce data and analytics offer a detailed view of your customers so you can better serve them and attract new shoppers. 

What you can do: If a shopper walks into your store, send them a push notification with a special promotion to use in-store. That kind of granularity offers a memorable, truly differentiated user experience. 

Make it fast and easy to find your products

When it comes to mobile commerce, customers often shop on the go. Conversions and sales happen when shoppers find the items they’re looking for quickly. Optimize product search to make items easy to find on mobile. This will help you differentiate your brand and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. More than one-third (36% of users) say it’s a challenge to find what they’re looking for when using a mobile device. 

What you can do: To make it easier, don’t forget to include meta titles and meta descriptions for mobile SEO. Headlines and copy may need to be shorter so that they fit on smartphone screens without cutting off. If a user is accessing your ecommerce site from a mobile browser, pages need to load fast and scroll smoothly. Payment options should be fast and convenient. Saved payment information features will entice customers to tap “Buy Now” faster without having to reach for their wallets.

Be consistent with your branding

Your mobile commerce app, mobile website, social media pages, and any other channels are all a part of your brand’s ecosystem. Be sure to use the same brand tone and visual style for consistency while adapting specific features for mobile users, such as font sizes and colors. 

What you can do: Use high-quality product images and descriptions and curate product pages for shoppers using the data they consent to share. People want to know exactly what they’re buying, so make sure your product images are clear and detailed, and that your descriptions are accurate and informative.  

Make the most of omnichannel integrations

Mobile commerce isn’t an island — it should be connected to all the other systems you have in place to drive ecommerce success. Today’s shopping experiences are anything but linear. A customer can easily begin their journey on social media, jump to your mobile app, open a marketing email‌, then complete a purchase on their desktop. A large majority (71% of customers) prefer different channels depending on context and situation. All these channels must work together seamlessly to create a smooth omnichannel experience.

What you can do: It’s critical to ensure that when a customer adds an item to their cart on mobile, it’s still there when they visit your site using a desktop. When a shopper places an order through social, your inventory management and visibility tools should reflect the same as if the purchase were made on your ecommerce site. New channels bring new complexity, and it’s important to focus on getting these integrations right across your entire brand experience.

Understand mobile shopping behaviors

Today, shopping typically happens throughout the course of the day — and often from a mobile device. People take out their phones and shop in spurts at the most ideal times. This can include while they’re browsing social media, as they wait in line to get their morning coffee, during breaks or lulls at work, and whenever they need to pass the time. To accommodate this, your mobile commerce UX needs to be very straightforward. People are busy and their attention spans can be short. Streamline the shopping experience and make it work for customers that may only shop for a few minutes at a time.

What does this mean for retailers? Providing a seamless omnichannel experience is more important than ever. It also means that businesses need to factor local search into their marketing mix. By optimizing your website and social media pages for local search, you can increase your chances of reaching consumers who are already in the market for what you’re selling.

Mobile commerce is only part of the shopping experience and doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Your customers could be anywhere in the world. Make sure that they can access your online store from the channel they prefer using. Set yourself up for success with the strategies and best practices mentioned above, as well as investing in a platform that lets you personalize using real-time data and AI as you scale.

By mastering the best practices that make mobile ecommerce such a versatile and convenient tool for shoppers, you put yourself in a position to build deep relationships with them that will build trust and keep them coming back. 

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