What is mobile commerce? Definition and types of mobile commerce | Business perspective
How do businesses use mobile commerce applications today? Here’s an introduction to m-commerce for app owners and companies looking to enter the mobile scene.
If you’ve been keeping up with recent consumer trends, you’ve probably heard people talking about mobile commerce as the next big thing. The truth is that the rise of mobile devices and their progressing domination over desktop make m-commerce a natural successor of e-commerce.
M-commerce and e-commerce have many things in common. However, there are a few important differences between them that you need to know if you’re trying to decide which approach is better for your business. Your company website and online store might already be optimized for mobile devices. But that doesn’t mean your business is ready for a move towards m-commerce.
This article is a comprehensive introduction to the world of mobile commerce to help business owners learn the many benefits of mobile commerce applications.
Table of contents
- Mobile commerce definition
- What are the key mobile commerce advantages?
- Better customer experience
- Great variety of payment options
- Mobile commerce statistics you need to know
- Types of mobile commerce applications
- Mobile commerce applications examples
- What is the future of m-commerce?
- The takeaway
1. Mobile commerce definition
Mobile commerce, also called m-commerce, refers to any transaction completed with a mobile device – be it a smartphone, tablet, or even a wearable device (see the trend for wearable payments, for example).
Experts consider mobile commerce as the next phase of e-commerce, as it allows consumers to buy goods or services online – but from anywhere and at any time.
But mobile commerce is so much more than that. In fact, m-commerce triggered the emergence of brand-new industries and services or helped the existing ones to grow in new directions. Examples of such innovations include:
- tickets and boarding passes,
- mobile banking,
- money transfers, contactless payments, and in-app payments,
- digital content purchases,
- location-based services,
- mobile marketing, including coupons and loyalty cards.
All of these features which today are part of our customer experience wouldn’t be possible if not for the rise of mobile commerce.
Read this article to learn more about the most important features every mobile commerce app must include: Top 24 E-Commerce Mobile App Features
2. What are the key mobile commerce advantages?
Now that you know what mobile commerce is all about, you might be wondering why so many businesses are investing in it today. The truth is that an m-commerce application offers numerous advantages to companies and customers who use them.
Here are three good reasons why your business needs a mobile commerce application.
a. Better customer experience
We all know what happened when e-commerce became popular. It made shopping so much more convenient and fun for customers. They could browse through a wide range of products, benefit from more competitive pricing, and complete their purchases without having to step away from their computers.
It’s safe to say that we all got used to purchasing products and services online. With mobile commerce, we retain all the benefits of e-commerce – but now we don’t even have to use our laptops or desktop computers anymore. As long as consumers have a mobile device, they can shop whenever they want and from wherever.
Mobile commerce allows companies to interact with customers easily because they’re using apps and services their target audiences already know and like to use.
To amplify the user experience in their mobile commerce applications, companies use cutting-edge solutions such an augmented reality (AR) or chatbots. For example, IKEA is among the top retailers that take advantage of AR apps to boost their mobile commerce business.
This is a unique strength of mobile commerce applications. An omnichannel experience is an experience of customers who purchase from stores that sell through multiple online and offline channels. Examples of such touch points include brick-and-mortar stores, an online store, online marketplaces like Amazon, social media apps like Facebook or Instagram, and dedicated mobile apps.
To get ahead of their competition, businesses are striving to list their products wherever they know potential consumers are already spending their time. This type of contextual commerce offers companies an opportunity to help their customers buy what they need from platforms and services they use every day. Moreover, mobile commerce also makes it easier to plan and execute multi-channel marketing and sales strategies.
c. Great variety of payment options
New mobile payment solutions emerge every year. Businesses can now offer their customers a broad and diverse range of payment options to make the process of buying products and services even smoother.
All of that doesn’t mean we’re moving our credit cards or cash behind. However, mobile commerce takes advantage of solutions that don’t force users to manually enter their details every single time they make a purchase. Examples of such modern mobile payment solutions are PayPal One Touch, Amazon Pay, and Apple Pay.
These three benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Read this article to learn more about what m-commerce applications offer to businesses today:
Want to get started? The best way to do it is by building a Minimum Viable Product.
Read this article from our blog to learn how to define the requirements for your MVP and build a successful m-commerce app for your business: How to Build a Minimum Viable Product – MVP Guide for App Owners
3. Mobile commerce statistics you need to know
To help you get a better grasp on the mobile commerce scene, here’s a handful of statistics that show its current and future impact:
- By 2021, mobile commerce sales will account for 54% of total e-commerce sales.
- One-third of consumer decisions to make a purchase is influenced by researching products on mobile devices.
- More than half (53%) of retailers have created a mobile app and, more than 50% of the rest want to build one.
- In Q2 2019, mobile e-commerce spending in the US reached $41.2 bn.
- The total number of U.S. shoppers who make mobile purchases is expected to reach 168.7 mln.
- The volume of mobile commerce sales will more than double between 2017 and 2020, reaching a smashing $336 bn in 2020.
4. Types of mobile commerce applications
M-commerce applications cover a broad range of transaction options. However, it’s possible to divide them into one of the following types:
Mobile shopping – this type of m-commerce implementation is most similar to e-commerce, only accessible through a mobile device. We’re talking about dedicated apps, optimized websites, or even social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram that allow in-app purchases or linking to online stores.
Mobile banking – mobile banking is quite similar to online banking. However, you will find that some transactions might be restricted or limited on mobile devices. Mobile banking is a type of implementation that usually involves a dedicated application – though some financial services companies are now experimenting with chatbots or messaging apps to deliver customer service.
Mobile payments – this type of mobile commerce focuses on the progressive innovation in payment options realized with mobile devices. Today consumers can take advantage of many diverse mobile payment options that go way beyond mobile wallets.
5. Mobile commerce applications examples
By now, you have a good grasp of the theory behind mobile commerce applications.
But how does mobile commerce work in practice?
Here are five examples of outstanding m-commerce applications that offer excellent examples to follow for companies looking to enter the mobile commerce scene.
Amazon is one of the largest online marketplaces in the world, featuring hundreds of thousands of items on sale. Packing all of this content into a user-friendly and intuitive app was surely challenging. But Amazon’s m-commerce app is light and fast, allowing its users to search and filter a wide range of products using various parameters with just a few clicks.
Moreover, Amazon provides several payment gateways to build a smooth checkout experience. Users also get notified about their order status in up-to-the-minute updates. The app also takes advantage of localization services to help users discover offers from businesses located nearby.
Lesson learned: The app’s simple interface hides some really powerful features. That’s what makes this Amazon an outstanding example to companies that want to launch mobile commerce stores.
The global coffee shop chain created this app primarily to enable mobile payments and boost their loyalty program. Customers can add funds to their loyalty card and use their phones to buy drinks at Starbucks coffee shops. They can earn loyalty points on the go and then exchange them for free refills or snacks. The app also takes advantage of geolocation services and helps users to locate nearby stores quickly.
Lesson learned: The application is smoothly integrated with the Starbucks loyalty program. That’s how it helps the brand forge a stronger connection with its target audience.
Uber might not be the first thing that pops into your mind when thinking about m-commerce, but this leading on-demand car service app is, in fact, a great example of mobile commerce capabilities.
By connecting riders with drivers, the app uses GPS technology to access the progress of the car on its way. It also allows users to compare different vehicle types and pay for rides using their mobile wallets. After completing the ride, both the driver and the passenger can rate one another and leave their feedback.
Lesson learned: Uber disrupted the private transportation sector by offering the first successful product of this kind. It was soon followed by many others. Uber wouldn’t be able to achieve that without the unique m-commerce functionalities like geolocation or mobile payments.
This international cosmetics and beauty retailer operates almost 2000 retail stores across 30 countries all over the world. Sephora launched its digital transformation journey a while ago. The brand’s mobile app plays a critical role in the company’s marketing strategy today.
The app offers a memorable digital experience, making shopping fun and quick. For example, it features an integrated loyalty card and personalized alerts about offers available in the store. Moreover, users can scan products for ratings and reviews while shopping in Sephora stores. Finally, the app features an amazing AR functionality that allows app users to try on different makeup products from their mobile device with Sephora Visual Artist.
Lesson learned: Sephora’s mobile app takes the shopping experience at brick-and-mortar stores to the next level – it’s an excellent example of an omnichannel experience.
The UK-based global fashion retailer offers thousands of products in its mobile app. A while ago, ASOS revamped the app experience to make it more attractive to customers. The brand managed to do it so successfully that consumers now spend 80 minutes per month on average in the ASOS app.
One of the most interesting features is the style match functionality, a visual search tool that enables users to find similar items quickly. They need to take a picture or upload a reference photo, and the app will show the closest results among the brand’s extensive stock. The mobile app can analyze the pattern, color, and texture from the image and make satisfactory recommendations to users.
Lesson learned: ASOS mobile app offers a unique recommendation engine that transforms the shopping experience.
Want to see more examples of successful m-commerce apps? Check out this case study of an m-commerce app we developed for a leading footwear retailer, CCC.
6. What is the future of m-commerce?
The examples we have shown you above should make it clear that businesses stand to gain a lot from entering the mobile scene. In fact, companies that fail to accommodate their operations to mobile will limit their potential profits significantly.
The reason behind this is that the mobile ownership rate continues to rise. More internet traffic currently comes from mobile users than desktop users. As a result, we can expect a massive increase in m-commerce activity in the near future as businesses spot new sales opportunities and jump on the mobile bandwagon.
Even today, consumers who are considering to purchase a product often look for it on their mobile devices first. They quickly check their features, reviews, and prices offered by different retailers. This is a habit that will only deepen in the future, making it even more essential for retailers to become part of the mobile scene.
There’s no telling by how much the mobile commerce sector will grow during the next few years, but one thing is clear: businesses that don’t take advantage of the growing m-commerce market will limit their opportunities for growth and success.
Are you looking for a team of experts who know the ins and outs of m-commerce development? Reach out to us. We have supported many businesses in taking their operations to mobile successfully.