This is a guest post from Therese Palmere at Aumcore.
In today’s digital world, there’s always a means of connecting to the internet. Whether it’s from a desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, or even a smartwatch, there are countless ways users can be connected, even while they’re on the go.
In fact, in the United States alone, there are over 265.9 million smartphone users who spend an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes on their phones every day. Young adults from ages 16 to 24 check their phone around every 8.6 minutes.
With so much screen time, it should come as no surprise that brands are vying for some of that attention.
With an increasing number of users accessing and interacting with content on mobile devices (i.e., the rise of mobile-first), it makes sense that businesses are shifting their attention to mobile optimization. Read on to discover all the advantages, disadvantages, and must-haves of mobile e-commerce for today’s technologically savvy brand.
What is mobile commerce (m-commerce)?
One of the most impressive mobile marketing statistics of 2019 is how mobile commerce accounted for over $2 billion in sales this past Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Mobile e-commerce (or m-commerce) is the terminology used to describe the process by which users purchase goods and services using mobile tech. This can be done by heading to your favorite store’s website using your phone or by scrolling through social media and making a purchase through a social platform like Pinterest.
If your favorite brand has a mobile app, you can also purchase goods and services using that method.
Mobile commerce scope and benefits
The death of retail is evidenced by the numerous labels that have gone out of business or claimed bankruptcy this year (for example, longstanding luxury fashion label Henri Bendel, famous toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us, Sears, Claire’s, Brookstone, and more).
Survival for brands in the digital age means learning and adapting to new technologies, and one of the avenues brands need to consider as consumers grow more technologically savvy is mobile shopping.
So what are the benefits of m-commerce? If you’re willing to take the first step in transforming e-commerce websites into m-commerce ones, here’s what you can expect:
With m-commerce, you’re making your products, goods, and services more accessible to your consumers. By optimizing your content for mobile viewing and getting a responsive design, you’re going to them. Mobile e-commerce allows you to get in front of your target audience on the platform of their choosing. By being available on a mobile commerce platform, you’re increasing brand awareness and showing your users that you understand where they’re spending their time.
2. Intentional audiences
One of the amazing things about the internet is that it gives you a global audience.
Smartphone users worldwide are expected to grow to nearly 2.9 billion by next year, meaning that those 2.9 billion people could reach your site. Adults from the Netherlands or teenagers in Asia, all can view and purchase your products and services from their mobile device.
This is an extremely helpful feature, especially for small businesses located in rural areas that need to be found by as many people as possible. With mobile commerce you can even cultivate a community of followers in a region of the world you would never even expect.
That’s just part of the beauty of a mobile commerce app and platform.
3. Business development and expansion
You can use your newly found audiences for business development and expansion. For example, with mobile e-commerce tools, you can run different A/B tests similar to your standard digital marketing strategy and see what kinds of content and/or products and services truly pique your customers’ interests on mobile. With that information, you can choose to expand or test different areas of your brand.
4. Perfect timing
Numerous mobile commerce platforms, whether for mobile search or social media, allow brands to time their advertisements. You can reach consumers on their morning commute, at the gym, during their lunch break, and even during their downtime. Optimizing your content for mobile means you can reach your consumers at all times, even while on the go.
5. Invaluable data
Reaching customers and audiences you never thought possible is a major plus for mobile commerce, and an added bonus comes from the information about your target audience you gain in the process.
For example, by running A/B tests on mobile consumers, every transaction means your brand learns more and more about their online mobile purchase buying habits. You can compare that information with the background knowledge you already have about their purchase history and create more specific and personalized marketing campaigns.
Mobile commerce drawbacks
There’s no doubt that mobile commerce has its advantages, but in order to know whether or not the venture into the world of mobile e-commerce is worth it, you need to look at the disadvantages as well:
1. Data privacy concerns
With more access to consumer data comes a greater responsibility as a brand to protect that information. Users are already up in arms about Facebook’s data privacy concerns, and, if you’re thinking about going mobile, you must also understand how to address those issues for your users.
Ensure that your users are safe while using your website by getting an SSL certificate or using widely recognized companies like PayPal to handle your transactions. Taking these steps are worth the effort to make your consumers feel safe while they’re making an online mobile purchase on your site.
2. International competition
Having an international audience seems amazing, but the international competition that accompanies it can be somewhat challenging. If you choose to put your brand on the mobile commerce market, go into it with the understanding that the boutique clothing store in the next town won’t be your only competitor anymore.
3. Internet connectivity
It’s unfortunate, but a side effect of going mobile is dealing with internet connectivity. If your site suddenly gets an influx of traffic that it isn’t prepared for, there’s potential for your web page to crash. Be sure to prepare your servers beforehand to handle the bandwidth of an international audience.
4. Shipping costs
People buy your stuff and you have to get it to them somehow. You can offset the cost of shipping by setting a minimum for free shipping, which will encourage your customers to continue shopping until they reach the amount that will help you justify paying the $8.99 shipping label from your own pocket.
5. Unknown/unexpected factors and fees
Unexpected factors are standard for all aspects of business, no matter if they are online or on mobile. One of the disadvantages of mobile commerce, specifically, is that you could be hit with unexpected fees.
This could be anything from international shipping to upkeep for your mobile app, or even upgrading your website.
To avoid unexpected costs, it’s best to do your research so you can plan and prepare for your mobile rollout at least six months in advance.
What is the future of m-commerce?
Mobile optimization is already becoming the new standard across all industries, and there are a few technological applications that brands should keep in mind if they want to stay ahead of the curve: for instance, blockchain technology.
Apart from its ties to cryptocurrency, blockchain technology is a method that can help businesses transfer and send information in a secure and monitored manner. From healthcare to tech and even fashion, this technology has huge potential for every industry.
Another big discussion point for the future of m-commerce is the digital wallet. Amazon Pay, PayPal, and Apple Pay are all digital wallets that have already established themselves as effective and seamless solutions for users to conduct purchases online and elsewhere.
With m-commerce, the use of these digital wallets will become even more significant. And then there’s artificial intelligence, which can’t help but to be touched on when discussing the future of mobile commerce.
For instance, brands can choose to leverage the powers of chatbots and machine learning in different ways for their mobile e-commerce development.
If all your consumers are gathering on the internet and spending time in one place, why wouldn’t you be present on that platform as well? Mobile commerce is the next step in the technological evolution brands must take if they want to survive in today’s internet-connected world.
This post has hopefully shown you the advantages of mobile e-commerce, as well as some disadvantages to give you an overarching picture. The key takeaways to keep in mind are:
- Mobile e-commerce means better accessibility for your consumers
- You will be on an international platform
- Business development and expansion can grow from your new audiences
- You can reach consumers at the perfect time with your advertising strategy
- You will gain invaluable data about your users’ mobile purchasing habits
- Data privacy for your users will be a concern
- International competition will be stiff
- Unfortunately, you will have to rely on your and your users’ internet connectivity
- Shipping costs will be expensive, especially if you go the international route
- You may get hit with unexpected fees
Therese Palmere is a content writer and consultant for Aumcore, a digital marketing agency based in NYC that offers mobile SEO and paid search counseling services. Therese dabbles in social media marketing and writes about everything, from web development to emerging marketing trends.