We are now well familiar with eCommerce, the on-line purchase of goods and services it has been something which we have been using since the 1980’s in some form. However today, eCommerce is now worth well over $1.3 trillion. (statista.com – eCommerce figures for 2013). From books, toys and presents to major purchases like cars and houses can all be completed securely on-line.
The next natural progression with the vast growth of mobile internet use is mCommerce – mobile commerce, the use of phones and tablets to carry out on-line transactions.
It is expected there will be over 6.5 billion smartphone users by 2020 (Tune) and 64% of users already regularly shop using their phones (Bloomreach). We will see later in this article that, at this stage, a considerable number of transactions are completed in a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ store with the mobile device being used for research, however, more and more mCommerce is being used for every part of the sales process.
Many organisations are still somewhat unprepared when it comes to presenting effective mCommerce solutions. This article will look at the important pointers to ensure your organisation is ready to support this growing trend.
1. The Mechanics of mCommerce
mCommerce is, in real terms part of your eCommerce solution, we are getting into semantics as it is difficult to pin down a totally clear definition for mCommerce. However, it is, in its most basic form, a mobile device such as a smartphone to complete eCommerce transactions. But, it does not directly follow that, if you have an eCommerce solution in place it will work effectively on mobile platforms. Your organisation may well have a solid eCommerce solution but are you sure that you are in a position to capture the massive mobile market.
It is simple to overlook some of the potential issues with using your eCommerce system on the screen of a mobile device or tablet. If the screen layout makes it impossible to complete mandatory fields or complete transactions you run the risk of losing those sales to your competition.
The exponential growth of mobile devices means that being able to sufficiently support mCommerce is a vital part of any organisation’s future strategy. Failing to support mCommerce will leave you well behind your competitors.
2. I have an eCommerce site, do I need an mCommerce site?
A recent survey of just one eCommerce supplier showed that over 50% of the commerce traffic is now being delivered via mobile devices. Pew Research Services show that there is a global median of 68% of adult users in advanced economies now regularly use mobile devices with 18 – 35-year-olds being the largest sector.
It is obvious, even without the sizeable numbers of statistics that use of smartphones and mobile internet is growing and will continue to do so. With the increase of the ‘Internet of things’ (everyday objects like refrigerators being connected to the internet), we can easily see a time when you will not only use your smartphone for purchases but will have your domestic appliances also interacting with eCommerce systems for self-supply.
Now is the perfect time to review your position as an organisation and how you build scalable and updatable systems to support this hyper-connected future.
3. Ensuring your eCommerce has the ‘m’ factor
The most important requirement is to ensure your eCommerce site is optimised to effectively run on mobile platforms. The first step should be to view and attempt to use your current eCommerce solution using various mobile platforms including:
- Android smartphones
- Google Pixel
- Android tablets
This assessment must cover all aspects of the commerce process from selection of products to ensuring that you can complete purchases. You should ensure you can easily select, zoom and access all aspects of the screen layout and that there are not areas which are inaccessible due to layout or design.
- Search for single and multiple products
- Complete a single and multiple product purchases
- Ensure that coupon or promotional codes work correctly
- Ensure that images and product descriptions can be viewed correctly, for example, that you can zoom the images.
Should you find the site does not respond effectively you should consider working with your web developer to redesign your eCommerce system to support mobile provision to ensure you are not missing out on this vital revenue stream.
4. Mobile wallets and mobile payments
An element which is growing is the use of mobile wallets, where a smartphone is used as a transactional tool. More and more people will be using their mobile phones with card terminals to carry out transactions, Apple Pay and Pay are two of the major methods which are used.
Most of this activity is going to be in-store rather than on-line (at this stage), so you need to ensure your EPOS infrastructure can cope with the new technologies. Otherwise, you will soon find you are being left behind as customers use rivals which support technologies they have come to expect as the norm.
5. Showrooming and offline sales
Research by Forrester Research has shown that, in 2015, more than $1 Trillion of total retail sales were influenced by smartphones. Today most sales are still completed in store, however, smartphones and browsers can be used for product research. Forrester expects web-influenced sales will exceed $1.3 billion on 2016.
Customers are becoming to expect higher and higher levels of service. Ten years ago, you had no way of knowing if a product was in stock at a local store without picking up the telephone and calling them, now we are in an environment where a smart fridge can order food for delivery on you use! More importantly, customers are becoming more used to having an instant response, ‘click and collect’, rapid delivery or even delivery by drones which we will see in the not too distant future.
At this stage, many customers are using their smart phones to review and research products before coming into a bricks and mortar store to collect it near instantly. However, there is a drive for the opposite in ‘showrooming’.
Showrooming is the process of customers visiting a physical store and then purchasing the product on-line. Many retailers see this as a threat, however, this is a natural bridging of the gap between the offline and online worlds, it is up to the retailer to make the gap as small as possible, making purchase attractive in-store rather than the customer having to wait for a product to be delivered. It is a battleground which will be fought not only on price but also by use of technology, ensuring that customers can seamlessly use their smart phones and mCommerce systems to complete the purchase.
6. The advantages of mCommerce
mCommerce provides a range of opportunities, customers can be connected to your brand anywhere. The increase of connectivity with 4G means that high-end content can be delivered in a personal form directly to the customer.
The high level of data available can allow you to provide massively tailored customer offerings even down to marketing your closest branch using GPS connectivity. Customers will keep their smartphones and tablets with them almost all the time, this means, if you get your offering right, that you can be within reach of your customers whenever and wherever
7. Put mobile first
The time is right for organisations to put mobile first, you should look to ensure that mobile and tablet-based access is at the forefront of your on-line presentation. The growing trend for mobile internet is not diminishing and the importance of mCommerce and mobile presentation cannot be underestimated.
Ensure you have reviewed your on-line presence across all channels, ensuring that you are effectively managing social media, mCommerce as well as more traditional web content.