M-commerce is sweeping the world as stores fight for customers. With an increased amount of shoppers reaching for their mobile devices, E-commerce (and physical stores alike) is taking mobile optimization more and more. There are three factors to understanding why mobile commerce is becoming such a powerful platform: convenience, mobile apps, the spread of 4G.
What exactly is mobile commerce? Investopedia defines m-commerce as the use of wireless handheld devices such as cellular phones and laptops to conduct commercial transactions online. However, this definition can be expanded to tablets, interactive laptops, basically anything with a touch screen. To fully understand those three points, lets firstly look at some history behind mobile shopping:
- Mobile Commerce is a phrase coined by Kevin Duffey in 1997.
- In 1998 Radiolinja (Finland) was the first to allow for the download of digital content, ringtones to be precise, via mobile devices.
- 2000 was the year of the BOOM. To name a few firsts: Norway launched mobile parking payments, Austria offered train tickets via mobile, and Japan began selling airline tickets on mobile devices.
- The first ever book on m-commerce “M-Profits” by Tomi Ahonen was published in 2002.
- University of Oxford launched a short discussion course on m-commerce in 2003.
- 2007 – the year that the first iPhone’s were released and the app revolution began for m-commerce.
In just August 2013, about 14.6% of Europeans have made purchases via their smartphones, the most popular categories were as follows:
- 5.4% clothing or accessories
- 3.8% book
- 3.8% electronics or household appliances
- 2.6% personal care products
Now taking this into account, which countries are most m-commerce friendly? Well, Germany (9.9 million users) and the UK (9.7 million users) are leaders in this area. However, Spain is the fastest growing m-commerce country. In Spain there was a 66.5% increase in mobile shoppers in 2013, this amounted to 3.3 million users. Whereas Italy is close behind with a 61.3% increase and 5.6 million users. You can also see how m-commerce compares in the UK, US, and Poland specifically by reading through our infographics.
Mobile commerce is convenient
Imagine that you’re in a store and as you check out a product you realize you may have seen it somewhere else with a cheaper price. Now, back in the day you’d have to drive around searching for that store, but now all you have to do is whip out your smartphone (or tablet) and search the internet. Whats more, you can use mobile apps if competitor stores have them to see their prices, but we’ll discuss that later on.
That is exactly why brick and mortar businesses have made use of different services that make customer experience in physical stores a lot more comfortable. Things like location-based services, bar code scanners, and push notifications help customers get a better grip on pricing, sales, and new items in stock. All this to make sure that customers feel well informed, which in turn makes shopping more convenient.
Mobile commerce is app worthy
As the iPhone began a revolution, stores began to turn to apps to make their customers see shopping as a less of a burden and more of a joyful experience. And it’s not just the stores! Apps created for the sole purpose of price comparison, discount coupons, and just plain on mobile shopping. Of in-store shoppers about 10.9% of them scan bar codes in their smartphones and 7.9% compare prices.
Some of the most talked about apps are Fab, LivingSocial, Google Shopping Express, or Amazon Price Check. These are on the very tip of the mobile shopping iceberg! Numerous stores have their own apps to help their customers either shop from their phone or check prices/sales while in a physical store.
Mobile commerce is 4G fast
The different “G’s” appear approximately once every decade, and since 2012 the world has been slowly moving from 3G to 4G. If you’re a little confused, check out a great article Diffen that explains the difference between the two. But in layman’s terms 4G is much quicker. Image that you’re sitting in the subway and you realize it’s your mom’s birthday. You whip out your phone, which manages to work even underground, you go on a flower delivery website and you quickly buy her flowers to be delivered within an hour or two, and you did all of this not in 20 minutes but in 5.
This marvelous mobile generation upgrade has made Christmas online shopping double in the UK! In 2012 there were about 15% mobile shoppers, once 4G was introduced in most of the UK, by Christmas 2013 there 39% mobile shoppers.
It is projected that by 2017, about 19.7 billion EUR will come from mobile commerce (compared to 1.7 billion EUR in 2011). Mobile apps are becoming more popular, stores are offering coupons, discounts, and special notifications for mobile users (Check out McDonal’s App with coupons). With faster internet users are also more eager to make shopping a habit that can be done on the way to work, while sitting in the park, or simply when in store and realizing that maybe online they might find a better deal.
With increasing numbers in mobile revenue it’s vital to get on the mobile bandwagon. Giving your web store a face lift by creating a mobile version, making an app that helps your customers see directly what is happening in your store (maybe even give discounts to mobile users), and making sure that paying with mobiles is easy for your customers are just some of the easy steps you can take to enter the world of m-commerce.