Mobile eCommerce or m-commerce is the purchasing of goods and services via mobile devices. You might have thought of mobile phones as being the main device used, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, there are two devices that fall under this category – smartphones as well as tablets. Tablets sales are still increasing year-on-year and are often not given as much consideration when it comes to builds, while smartphones have been a transformative component of the eCommerce industry and are a main consideration as we develop digital strategies for our clients1.
Key m-commerce statistics
- M-commerce is growing rapidly and is being driven largely by mobile-first economies in emerging markets. In South Korea, for example, a country that adopted mobile early, 65% of online transaction volume now comes from mobile traffic3.
- 76% of customers use mobile devices to purchase because it saves time4.
- 53% of visitors will abandon the mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load5.
- Salesforce reports that 75% of customers want consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social) and 73% will likely switch brands if they don’t get it6.
- 70% of users abandon their carts on eCommerce websites while up to 85.65% of those on mobile websites do so. Extra costs and steps till checkout were some factors cited7.
Mobile versus desktop eCommerce
Even as research finds that consumers order more from desktops than from their mobiles, mobile phones still dominate as the source of web traffic. In some segments, such as fashion, more than 75% of traffic comes from mobile devices. However, conversion rates are lower on mobile (0.6%) when compared to desktop (1.3%)8.
Mobile optimization vs mobile apps
Since they store data locally on your smartphone, dedicated apps work up faster than mobile websites. However, there are many steps that customers need to take to search, download and use an app, and thus many more opportunities to abandon the process. App development also uses a lot of resources as the experience has to be rich and rewarding beyond the initial download. Besides websites optimized for mobile, developers these days are turning to progressive web apps which are websites that function like apps.
Design for M-commerce
Any unnecessary steps that take up time till checkout should be eliminated in m-commerce. Fewer steps equals higher conversion rates.
It’s not enough to reformat your product catalog. Sephora, for instance, included researchers, product and marketing managers as well as developers not to mention customer feedback in its app redesign9.
A small screen compared to a desktop means less real estate, so here are a few more things to keep in mind:
Smart and visual search: The search function is probably the most important feature on a mobile-optimized website. The ability for high-intent visitors to find, categorize, view, and eventually buy the product is contingent on it. Visual trends are also key in the space – text is less important on mobile than high-quality images and video, and repurposing user-generated content is another way to up the visual quotient of your site10. An example is on Lush, whose mobile-optimized website is deeply visual with a rolling feed of social-media-worthy product images. It also has a prominent search bar offering not just the product as well as articles related to it. Visual search tools allow users to search for products using images.
Gestures and thumbs: Smartphone-specific gestures such as scroll, swipe and tap can be used to increase user-friendliness on your website or app. Keep in mind that the part of the screen that your thumbs sweep across is the most valuable space, so buttons critical to the customer journey shouldn’t be on top or too close together at the bottom.
Navigation, carts and pop-ups: It’s essential to think through your information architecture. Keep menus up top and easy to access, carts and number of products there in view at all times and pop-ups to a minimum.
One-click checkout: The feature popularized by Amazon is becoming commonplace on mobile sites and apps. It requires shoppers to enter their payment information once, so that they can use the one-click option to check out without having to re-enter it.
Speed: Your customer experience correlates very closely with how fast your site or app is. Every second you can shave off is crucial. Google is famous for citing the ‘speed budget’, or a way to optimize site or app speed11.
With the global smartphone numbers at three billion and growing every day, the proportion of eCommerce sales via mobile devices is only set to increase12.
Here are some exciting developments in m-commerce that will be keeping developers and brand managers busy in the foreseeable future. Some trends in eCommerce in general also apply to mobile.
Omnichannel: With features such as location-based services, barcode scanning and push notifications, retailers can extend the user experience across all their customer touchpoints.
Personalization: As with the general trend in eCommerce towards personalization, tailored and user-centric content and communications in m-commerce is not just becoming more popular but imperative.
Social commerce: One way to make the experience personal is to integrate key aspects of the social Web that customers are used to – interactions and recommendations from friends, groups, voting, comments and discussions – before and after the purchase. Integrations include pushing purchase information to social feeds or leaving reviews on forums. Moreover, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have all introduced shoppable posts that let shoppers make purchases without having to leave the platform
There are other trends though that are specific to mobile because of the features that smartphones and tablets offer.
Voice shopping: Every smartphone sold these days is equipped with tools such as Alexa and Siri. Moreover, 28% of US households have a smart speaker and that number is expected to rise to 75% by 202513. Voice optimization of your website to make sure your products can be found and purchased in a simple flow using voice commands is becoming a standard feature.
AI, VR & AR: Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) make it easier for customers to imagine using your products and services. They help replicate the in-store experience in many ways. Amazon offers a ‘see how it looks’ feature. Mobile chatbots are another simple way for customers to ask a question and for a website to funnel customers to the product or answer they are searching for.
Mobile payments: The rise of various digital payment intermediaries such as PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay are changing the game in m-commerce. The use of cryptocurrencies is ramping up as PayPal and Venmo now accept all cryptocurrencies for payment14 – but ever more present is the use of mobile or digital wallets to pay for purchases that ensure the security of user details and save even more time.
As a whole, the array of opportunities that m-commerce can provide for a commerce brand is infinite. For a tangible example of BORN’s work in mobile commerce, check out our case study for Nestlé Gerber here.
1. Tablet shipments grew in 2020, Apple still dominant, gsmarena.com, https://www.gsmarena.com/tablet_shipments_grew_in_2020_apple_still_dominant_at_number_1-news-47634.php
2. Mobile E-commerce is up and Poised for Further Growth, Statista, https://www.statista.com/chart/13139/estimated-worldwide-mobile-e-commerce-sales/
3. E-commerce worldwide – Statistics & Facts, Statista, https://www.statista.com/topics/871/online-shopping/
4. The state of personalization in mobile commerce, XP2 by Dynamic Yield, https://www.dynamicyield.com/article/50-most-important-dynamicyield-personalization-stats/
5. Google Data, Global, n=3,700 aggregated, anonymized Google Analytics data from a sample of mWeb sites opted into sharing benchmark data, March 2016, GoogleData, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/mobile-site-load-time-statistics/
6. Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs, Salesforce, https://www.salesforce.com/research/customer-expectations/
7. Cart abandonment statistics, Sleeknote, https://sleeknote.com/blog/cart-abandonment-statistics#1
8. 2020 Global Digital Growth Benchmarks for Fashion Marketers, Insider, https://useinsider.com/report/2020-global-digital-growth-benchmarks-for-fashion-marketers/
9. How Sephora gave its app a customer-first makeover, ThinkwithGoogle.com, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/app-user-experience-redesign/
10. The State of Mobile E-Commerce Search and Category Navigation, Baymard Institute, https://baymard.com/blog/mobile-ecommerce-search-and-navigation
11. How speeding up your mobile site can improve your bottom line, ThinkwithGoogle.com, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/mobile-page-speed-data/
12. Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2016 to 2021, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/
13. Smart speaker household penetration rate in the United States from 2014 to 2025*, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1022847/united-states-smart-speaker-household-penetration/
14. PayPal and Venmo will offer and accept cryptocurrency for all online payments, theverge.com, https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/21/21527288/paypal-cryptocurrency-support-buy-sell-venmo-bitcoin