How Mobile eCommerce is Shaping the Industry

3 min read

A Happy Young Woman Using Her Phone

There is no question that smartphones are taking over eCommerce when it comes to researching and completing a purchase. The necessity of optimizing your eCommerce store for smartphones and tablets is as automatic as adding a “Buy Now” button.

Let’s look at the numbers. U.S. retail sales using smartphones jumped 53.4% from $18.49 billion in 2014 to an estimated $34.63 billion in 2018. Bluetooth and other wireless connectivity have enabled shoppers to search and pay while on the go.

In the late 80’s, we were enamored with the idea of being able to shop online from our home or office. Ordering products while glued to our computer screens, using AOL or CompuServe phone modems was exciting, discreet, even a little sneaky. Then Japan unleashed the cellphone to the world in 2002, and the eCommerce game changed. In fact, the term mCommerce (coined back in 1997) is now in vogue, reflecting just how much business these handheld mobile devices generate.

What is a Mobile Commerce Platform?

mCommerce is a natural extension of eCommerce. The difference between these two, mobile commerce transactions use mobile devices.

Online retailers have been quick to optimize for mobile, ensuring everything fits well into various screen sizes from phones to tablets. Brick and mortar stores use mobile commerce to send push notifications, enable barcode scanning, ewallets, and location-based services to attract new customers.

Mobile commerce applications are an integral part of any retail operation. Today's shoppers require a mobile-first point of sale (POS), so they can research, select, and buy their items straight from their phones, wherever they are.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud, IBM Mobile Commerce, Pontis, GPShopper, and SAP Hybris are some of the most well-known examples of mobile commerce platforms. However, more traditional eCommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Magento, and Shopify incorporate mobile functionality into all their features.

And, with the trend rising, no eCommerce platform can survive long without optimizing for mobile.

Three Stats Worth Noting

While there are endless statistics for ecommerce and mobile phones, these three should be of particular interest to any retailer.

  1. 30% of mobile shoppers abandon their carts if they have a slow mobile experience. 30% of possible sales is “low-hanging fruit” money, easily remedied through mobile optimization.

  2. In 2017, the year-end holiday traffic in Brick-and-mortar stores was down about 3%, but the increase in sales-per-shopper was more than that. This indicates that more shoppers are doing their homework online before shopping.

  3. Retail giant, Target, reported that 98% of their customers shop digitally, and over 75% of shoppers begin researching and comparing on a mobile device. And… that was already back in 2015.

Shoppers demand the convenience of shopping from their mobile devices in the same way cell phones replaced pay phones. Retailers need to make sure every page element and image display clearly on screens that are ten times smaller than a desktop monitor.

“Showrooming” and Quicker Buying Decisions

Mobile eCommerce Showrooming Photo of Woman Looking at Her Cellphone in a Store

One effect and the biggest change in eCommerce that mobile devices have had on retail shopping is a phenomenon called “Showrooming.” It’s where a potential buyer walks into a brick and mortar store to see the physical object of their desire up close, to hold it, and kick the tires. However, they don’t buy it then and there. Instead, they leave the store and consummate their purchase online or from another source.

Statistics show that 80% of mobile shoppers have used this tactic inside a physical store to read product reviews, compare prices or find alternatives. It’s a vexing problem for B&M stores who must create further incentives for shoppers to buy now.

Mobile shoppers tend to make their buying decision much faster as a result of having done prior research and due to multitasking. Shoppers report buying while waiting for something (traffic, picking the kids up at school, etc.), in bed, or while working. Retailers that make it easy to buy with uncluttered pages and easy check out will get more mobile business.

Mobile Apps Reach New Customers and Increase RevenuePhoto of Mobile Map App on a Cellphone

Some businesses were built solely on the power of the mobile app. Think of Uber or Lyft. How would they have grown if you could only book them with a desktop?

Of course, eBay, and Amazon were early leaders in the mobile app retail space. Today, almost every enterprise level and the big-box stores have apps to entice shoppers wherever they are. Customers can scroll through products, compare, buy and share. Retailers also offer coupons, discounts, loyalty and reward programs which increase sales.

Mobile app drives 2.6 times more revenue compared to the mobile website.


eCommerce Becoming mCommerce

Image of Amazon Go Store Exterior

Recently Amazon has gone full circle from an online eCommerce juggernaut to brick and mortar store with a mobile app twist. Their groundbreaking GO Store has replaced cashiers and POS systems with mobile apps. Shoppers can walk into the store, select their items, and walk out. The store tracks their every move and purchase. As they leave, sensors tally the amount, refresh the inventory count, and send a receipt in a blink of an eye. The concept is the ultimate in mobile commerce eliminating the need for cash.

Mobile only companies like Amazon Go and Uber will be the majority, and the mobile user experience will be the primary differentiator between companies. Price and product will take a back seat to the convenience of the shopping experience.

Amazon is not the only player in the mobile arena. Shopify has templates and themes for retailers to build mobile responsive websites quickly. You can even manage the store from your phone.

BigCommerce enables you to offer digital and mobile wallets to streamline the buyer experience, reducing cart abandonment.

Very soon, mobile shopping will be the norm. As we head toward a cashless society, mCommerce is the retail equivalent of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. Make sure your business is mobile optimized or face extinction.

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