You may not have ever used the term m-commerce, but most of us have engaged in the activity for years. M-commerce, or mobile commerce, is the practice of making a business transaction on a mobile device. If you’ve bought airline tickets, made a bank transfer, or ordered from Amazon on your smartphone, you’re an m-commerce pro. If you also happen to be an ecommerce business owner, you’d better be upping your m-commerce game.
Why? Because it’s estimated that over 50% of all ecommerce purchases during the 2022 holiday season were made on a smartphone. Because at least 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase using their mobile device in the last 6 months. (That’s 79% of 15 billion smartphone users!) And if they’re not buying, they’re comparison shopping. 77% of shoppers say they’ve used a mobile phone to find a product, read reviews and compare prices, and 59% admit to doing this research while standing in a physical store!
These mobile factoids are impossible to ignore. If you’re not catering to the mobile visitors on your website, it’s high time you did so. Today we’re going to give you a few tips on how to optimize your website for mobile and start reaping the benefits of mobile commerce.
Ecommerce, Mobile Commerce, and Social Commerce Explained
Before we get started, here are a few definitions.
Ecommerce: the sale and purchase of goods and services electronically, particularly on the internet.
Mobile Commerce: the sale and purchase of goods and services on the internet using a mobile phone. Mobile commerce is a form of ecommerce, but while ecommerce can be conducted over any device connected to the internet, m-commerce specifically refers to transactions made on a smartphone. M-commerce encompasses many types of transactions including mobile banking, purchasing tickets at Ticketmaster, or ordering a physical product from a mobile retail app. To enable m-commerce, online merchants must either optimize their online store for mobile sales, or develop their own branded mobile app.
Social Commerce: the sale and purchase of goods and services on the internet via a social media platform, such as FaceBook, Instagram, Pinterest, or TikTok. Since much of social commerce does occur using a cell phone, you might say it’s both ecommerce and m-commerce, and you’d be right. The difference is that social commerce transactions take place on the seller’s social media feed, not their branded mobile app or website. Payments are managed by the social media platform, which takes a percentage of the sale.
Mobile Marketing is not the same thing as mobile commerce. Mobile marketing simply refers to the use of mobile channels to drive traffic and build awareness. Marketing ads and videos usually link to a website or web store where customers can make a purchase. That’s not the same thing as enabling customers to purchase within the app they’re currently scrolling.
How to Perfect Your Mobile Commerce Game
There’s no point in investing in m-commerce if you don’t do it well. That means optimizing your website for mobile or building an easy-to-use mobile app, and investing in marketing that targets and retargets mobile users.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
If you’re using a storefront template such as Shopify, you are guided into making the right design choices as you build your store. If you’ve built, or are in the process of building, your own web store, there are a few basic rules to follow for the best user experience on mobile.
- Make it responsive, that is, your website should adapt to whatever size screen a visitor is using. Photos and font sizes are big enough to see, nothing gets cut off, navigation tools are always visible and the “buy” button or other call to action should be easy to find.
- Optimize load times by compressing and limiting the number of photos, and deleting apps and themes on your storefront that you’re not using.
- Use square or vertical photos for best visibility on a small screen. Videos are also extremely helpful and can answer a lot of questions for shoppers that photos can’t.
- Simplify your navigation menu, and make sure each link has enough space around it that a shopper can easily tap it without accidentally tapping something else.
- Optimize forms, such as email signups or account creation, by requiring as little information as possible and making sure the fields are large enough to tap and navigate.
- Quality check any change to your website to make sure it hasn’t affected usability on a mobile device. This includes any changes to your navigation menu, placement of buy or checkout buttons, global banners, or popups for email signups or chatbots. These can all negatively affect the user experience on mobile.
- Enable express checkout with payment apps such as Shop Pay, PayPal, Google Pay, MetaPay, Venmo, or Apple Pay. Because these apps store the customer’s payment information in a mobile wallet, they can checkout with one tap.
Build Your Own Mobile App
85% of consumers prefer native apps to mobile websites. Shopify has tools to help you create a mobile app, or you can create your own app using open-source technology. A downloaded mobile app gives your brand a head start over other brands every time a customer reaches for their phone. A well-built mobile app is fast and convenient, and allows you to deliver an omnichannel experience (see below).
Start Small and Build a Progressive Web App (PWA)
Start by marketing to your followers on social media and build your audience from there. Visually driven platforms like Instagram, Pinterest or TikTok are ideal for clothing or beauty brands, while LinkedIn is better for B2B brands.
Take Advantage of Social Commerce
Since the average mobile user spends 2.5 hours a day on their phone, it makes sense to not only market your product on social media, but to also enable them to shop there. This simply means creating an online catalog on one or more of your social media platforms. An estimated 63.5 million shoppers in the U.S. made a purchase on Facebook (Meta) in 2022. TikTok users (122 million in the U.S.), while younger, spend $50.4 million annually. And according to a recent study, 50% of TikTok users purchased something after watching a TikTok Live.
Utilize a Chatbot
Chatbots like Instant Messenger, which connects to Facebook and Instagram, can reduce customer service interactions.
Create an Omnichannel Experience
As your m-commerce business grows, you can invest in the technology to deliver the same user experience no matter what device your customers are using or where they happen to be shopping. With an omnichannel experience, shoppers see the same offers and can log in to their accounts, see their purchase history, and benefit from retargeting ads wherever they are.
Benefits of a Robust Mobile Commerce Sales Channel
It’s clear that mobile commerce offers a huge opportunity for growing brands, but there are plenty of other benefits for ecommerce businesses and customers alike.
Benefits for Ecommerce Brands
- Growth potential — Mobile usage and mobile commerce continue to grow year over year, with no end in sight as technology improves to accommodate it.
- No-brainer marketing — Be where your customers are, when they’re ready to shop. Retargeting ads reach mobile users who’ve already expressed some interest in your brand.
- Extended reach — Mobile users tend to share the things they like with their networks of friends, family and followers, extending the reach of your marketing efforts exponentially.
- Remain competitive — Mobile commerce enables retailers and wholesale brands to compete with digitally native brands.
- Personalized content — Mobile users who agree to marketing content can be targeted or retargeted with localized offers, personalized ads and content.
- Text notifications — Notifications are a simpler and less expensive way to reach your customer base than email or paid advertising.
- Engagement — Customers who have downloaded your mobile app have proven their loyalty and are much more engaged than other shoppers.
Benefits for Customers
- Convenience — If they like what they see, they can buy it right here, right now!
- Ease — Because m-commerce is optimized for speed and simplicity, it can be faster and easier than shopping in a physical store or from a desktop.
- Portable — Customers can shop from their car, their office, or while shopping in a competitor’s store.
- Security — Customers can use biometrics (fingerprint or facial recognition) to log in to their accounts or make purchases.
Challenges of Mobile Commerce
While m-commerce offers many benefits for ecommerce merchants and shoppers, it does have its challenges.
- Cost — Software development can be expensive. If you can’t afford to develop your own mobile app, start by optimizing your website for mobile. That way, when the time comes to develop a mobile app, you’ll have the assets you need to build it.
- Tech Integrations — Your web store and mobile app should integrate with your order and inventory management systems, as well as your fulfillment center’s warehouse management system (WMS), so you can manage orders from multiple sales channels in one place. Multichannel fulfillment can be tricky, without technology that consolidates data and allows you to control operations and manage inventory from a single source.
- Multichannel Fulfillment — Not all fulfillment centers can handle multichannel fulfillment. Growing multichannel brands often use this opportunity to migrate to a third-party logistics (3PL) partner with the technology and capacity to scale with their brand. A 3PL that prioritizes automation and technology can not only handle multichannel fulfillment with ease, but enables you to prioritize orders and control fulfillment operations just as easily.
- Inventory — Launching a new sales channel means anticipating sales volume and making sure you have enough inventory to meet the additional demand.
- Order tracking — Even though sales are coming in from several different sources, your brand is still responsible for any and all customer service issues. Customer service reps need access to real-time data, no matter where the order originated.
Move Now on Mobile Commerce
If your fulfillment center lacks the ability to consolidate and prioritize orders coming in from multiple channels, now is the time to look for a full-service 3PL and fulfillment company. ShipMonk’s industry-leading software platform gives merchants real-time transparency and control of orders and inventory from a single source. In addition, their commitment to technology and automation ensures that your rapidly growing needs are met, with plenty of room to scale!
Thinking about going global? ShipMonk’s locations in Mexico, Canada, the UK and Europe make the expansion easy. When your brand gets picked up by a big box store, we have the technology to add B2B and retail fulfillment as well. Contact us today to learn more about multichannel fulfillment and how to take your ecommerce business to the next level.