Everywhere you go, you see people tapping away their smartphones. Can you guess what they’re doing? Working, socializing, playing games – and shopping! As a store owner, you should pay close attention to the shopping part. With advancements like one-touch purchases, mobile wallets, and click-and-collect, people are increasingly using mobile to buy products from different retailers. It indicates that your business should start optimizing for mobile commerce, because that’s where the future of buying lies. Here’s everything you need to know to hop on the mobile commerce train.
What Is Mobile Commerce?
Mobile commerce – also known as mobile e-commerce or m-commerce – refers to the buying and selling of products using a mobile device – be it a tablet, smartphone, or wearable device.
Many people see it as a natural progression of ecommerce, made possible by technology, but it’s got its own thing. Instead of shopping from a brand’s online store, mobile users shop from retailers and brands through various channels on their phones, including mobile websites, shopping apps, social media, and more. Plus, they expect store owners to provide them with personalized experiences such as offering AR (augmented reality) features to help them visualize products using their phone’s camera.
M-Commerce and E-Commerce: How Do They Differ?
M-commerce means performing transactions on mobile without using a computer. Mobile shoppers can buy products and pay retailers anywhere they go as long as they have access to WiFi/4G. On the other hand, e-commerce implies the use of laptops or computers to perform transactions on the internet. In this case, people have to look for a place to sit down, open their devices, and shop or pay for a business. It’s not convenient to use a laptop while on the move. This means there’s a difference in reachability between electronic and mobile commerce. As a mobile device can be taken anywhere, you can reach a wide range of audiences even when they’re on the move.
Types of M-Commerce
M-commerce is typically driven by five types of mobile activities:
1. Mobile shopping
A close cousin of online shopping, mobile shopping, includes any kind of purchase a consumer makes on their mobile device. People shop on mobile through responsive online stores, social media sites that allow brands to deliver a mobile-first shipping experience, and dedicated ecommerce apps.
2. Mobile banking
This involves using a mobile banking app to perform financial transactions. It’s not much different from online banking, though some banks restrict or limit certain transaction types to mobile. The benefit is that you don’t need to queue up at the ATM or bank to transfer money, check account balances, or make payments.
3. Mobile pre-orders
People also use their mobile to pre-order items before they visit a physical shop. This saves them time, while the shop owner gets a heads up and packages the product in advance. A real-world example of this is the Canadian automotive retailer Canadian Tire Corporation. The store allows consumers to buy hardware and parts through mobile, pay upfront, and pick up the item from the retailer’s location.
4. Mobile bookings
Mobile bookings happen when people purchase event tickets through their handheld devices. Organizers accept bookings through a dedicated mobile site or app and then send a QR code to buyers’ mobile phones. The QR code contains the ticket data.
5. Mobile payments
This transaction type enables people to pay for goods or services with their phones. Today, consumers have lots of ways to pay without needing to access their physical credit card or wallet – they can use a mobile wallet, make in-app payments, or wave their phone at a POS terminal to process a money transfer against their bank account.
Advantages of Mobile Commerce
Here’s a quick look at the benefits of having a mobile presence for your business:
Mobile commerce allows you to connect with your target audience in any country/state/city in real-time. You can use features like push notifications to keep them updated about new deals and announcements. It’s even possible to send alerts at certain locations or times, such as a week before Christmas. The fact that people are inseparable from their mobile phones plays to your advantage; meet your customers where they are without any time or geographical restrictions.
2. Multiple Payment Methods
M-commerce allows you to improve the user experience by letting customers use whatever payment method they prefer. With mobile, you can accept payments through a variety of gateways, including credit cards, PayPal, digital wallets, or an integrated payment service like Shopify Payments. Besides, you can integrate ‘buy now, pay later’ solutions into the mobile checkout and let customers pay for their purchases in installments. Not only can this help you increase sales, but it can also improve a customer’s perspective of your brand (that you care about them and trust them enough to deliver products without complete payment).
3. Omnichannel Experiences
The ability to cater to the omnichannel shopper is one of the key benefits of mobile commerce. Using mobile-optimized comparison pages, geo-fenced coupons, and QR codes, you can merge the shopping experience across channels, including mobile, desktop, and physical stores. Customers can evaluate prices on their phones and then generate a QR code to complete a transaction in-store using a mobile-enabled checkout or payment service like Google Pay.
How to Set Up Your Business for Mobile Commerce
Optimizing an online store for mobile was once considered a bonus, but it is now necessary for business survival. Below are some ways you can get started with m-commerce.
1. Create a Responsive Design
Responsive designs enable your website to adapt its contents and layout to fit the resolution and screen size of the mobile device used to access it. The easiest way to create a responsive site is to use a mobile-friendly ecommerce store builder like Shopify. These tools come with tons of great free and premium mobile themes to help your store look as great on a mobile device as it does on a desktop screen. With Shopify, you also get a free, integrated mobile shopping cart that lets your customers browse and purchase from your site while on the go. Setting up a responsive site costs much less than building a mobile app, especially if you’re already using an ecommerce builder (just make sure to check out its mobile commerce features).
2. Improve Page Load Time
People love using their mobile devices because they offer convenience and speed. If your app or mobile ecommerce site doesn’t load quickly, your potential customers will be turned off. A poor customer experience isn’t just bad for your sales but also your brand reputation. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your mobile page load times:
- Place images and videos at the bottom of the page as they are the slowest elements to load. And while you’re at it, reduce the file size of your images by using a tool such as TinyPNG.
- Choose a simple responsive theme without a lot going on, as heavier themes tend to slow down a website.
- Choose a store builder with high-speed servers that are quick to process and serve your pages to mobile visitors.
3. Reduce Friction in The Path to Purchase
It’s crucial to think about a customer’s journey when optimizing for mobile commerce. Ideally, shoppers want to be able to complete transactions with just a few swipes and taps. Therefore, you’ll want to reduce the number of steps they need to take to buy a product on mobile. One way to do this is to offer an option of ‘guest checkout.’ People are more likely to complete an order when they’re not made to go through a lengthy account creation process. But if you’re looking to gather customer data and want people to create an account, make sure to keep the information fields to the bare essentials. Additionally, use clear CTAs, short copy, and large buttons to make it easy for customers to complete the checkout process.
4. Integrate Social Platforms into Your Mobile Strategy
The modern shopper also uses social media to browse, discuss, and buy products. That’s why you’ll see many brands setting up Facebook and Instagram shops for their stores. Such integration helps enhance the customer experience by letting people view and buy products directly on the social network. To integrate social selling into your mobile commerce strategy, capitalize on the integrations offered by your website builder solution. If you’re using Shopify, it allows you to add a Facebook sales channel to your store. You can then connect products that you have in your online store to your Facebook business profile so that people can see your products on Facebook. Plus, Shopify offers an option to set up Instagram Shopping where you people can view your products by visiting your Instagram page. The Instagram integration also enables store owners to tag products in their posts and Stories to give more exposure to their offerings.
5. Offer Mobile-First Customer Support
No matter how easy your mobile website is, people will always require help. Whether it’s the navigation or questions about certain items, return policy, or payments, you must be there to assist your customers. To this end, some retailers are experimenting with chatbots to resolve customers’ queries quickly. But you don’t necessarily have to use a chatbot – you can create self-help materials like self-supported videos, mobile-optimized documentation, and FAQs to provide assistance to shoppers. Another tip is to link your mobile and digital support channels. This is important because a customer may have a question about your mobile website but reach out to you through your desktop site’s live chat window. Connecting your channels will ensure you are well prepared to assist customers and have visibility into their mobile journeys.
Buying a Mobile-Friendly Ecommerce Business
Don’t have an online store? No problem, you can still get started with m-commerce by purchasing a mobile-optimized ecommerce business. Exchange Marketplace makes it convenient to find ecommerce stores built with Shopify, which offers responsive themes and several mobile commerce features. The platform has a great collection of high-potential websites across various niches, including fashion websites, gaming websites, fishing websites, art websites, online shopping websites, and more. You can even find cool websites and weird websites if you’re looking to start in a different niche.
Exchange also simplifies the process of evaluating the potential of a business. The platform lists critical information about each listing, including monthly expenses, business age, average monthly traffic, social media followers, the time required to run the business, and current profit. The details give you an idea about whether a potential business is worth your investment. Whether you’re looking to invest in a simple mobile-friendly website, want to acquire a profitable ecommerce business, or wish to take over a popular brand, you’ll find what you need on the marketplace.
Although most websites present on Exchange are mobile-friendly, you can do a manual check by entering a website’s URL in Google’s online mobile-friendly test tool. The tool accesses how easily mobile users can navigate, read, and perform actions on a website. It also gives suggestions for improvement and shows a preview of how the site will look when viewed on mobile. Using the online tool, you should be able to validate that the website you’re considering investing in will allow you to target audiences on mobile.
Mobile commerce is quickly becoming an inevitable necessity for businesses. Shopping is being done on mobile, mobile-based Google searchers are outranking desktop searchers, and the number of people paying with their phones is growing exponentially. That’s why the time to optimize your business for mobile is now. By understanding the basics, making the right tweaks, and jumping on m-commerce trends early, you’ll be able to gain a competitive edge in your industry.