The last 7 years have been ground-breaking from a technology standpoint as we’ve seen the rise of mobile technology to unprecedented levels. M-commerce, or the process of using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to make online purchases, has now become the norm for consumer engagement. In the same way that E-commerce fueled the growth of the internet in the mid-90s and early 2000s, M-commerce is spawning a new revolution in how consumers shop for good, products, and services.
If mobile devices are the new PCs of the digital era, then apps are the software behind this engine of growth. There’s now an app for everything and smart and savvy businesses today need to engage with mobile-centric consumers to make it easy for them to find and interact with their products and services.
As a refresher, here are the most important things that every small business (and any sized business for that matter!) should know about M-commerce.
Mobile keeps getting bigger: Mobile trends are increasing on every front as smartphone sales and tablets sales continue to rise and 3G and 4G prices drop. There are expected to be 1.75 billion smartphone users this year. More than 2.23 billion people worldwide, or 48.9% of mobile phone users, will go online via mobile at least monthly in 2014. At the beginning of the year, more people in the U.S. used mobile devices than desktop devices to access the internet. Forrester also expects mobile commerce transactions in the United States to total $114 billion in 2014. $76 billion will be from tablets, while the remainder will be from smartphones. These same numbers are replicating themselves globally.
Mobile unfriendly sites drive customers the other way: A 2012 study from Google showed that mobile-friendliness was a key factor in purchase decisions, with 67% indicating that a mobile-friendly website made them more likely to buy a product or use a service. In addition, 61% indicated that a bad mobile experience made them more likely to leave. Not to mention that your site performance also plays a major factor in customer behavior: 57% customers will abandon a site if they have to wait 3 seconds for it to load.
Moms, millennials, and multinationals: Research has shown that smartphones have become a mom’s “do-it-all” device to help organize family life and planning, and to take care of shopping needs such as clothing, household products and groceries, or other products and services. Likewise, millennials are huge consumers of mobile technology with 81 percent of U.S. millennials (defined as 18-34 year olds) owning a smartphone by the end of 2013. Also, keep in mind that the U.S. is only 13th globally in terms of smartphone penetration. The four countries topping this list – United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore – are all from the Middle East or Asia. The point here is that at least 1 of these 3 M’s –moms, millennials, and multinationals – should be part of your mobile commerce strategy.
Keep it quick and simple: You’ll win customers by making your mobile site as streamlined as possible. Ensure they can get up to date product information, directions to the nearest store, telephone numbers, opening times, and everything they need instantly. As one industry spokesman says, “The checkout process also needs to be seamless and uncomplicated and research shows that if this process becomes problematic the user is quite happy to leave the site having not made their intended purchase.”
Develop 360 degree customer-centricity: Learn as much as you can about your customer’s online behaviors in order to personalize their shopping experience and bring them back. The ability to track a single customer across your site and across multiple devices will ensure that you can tailor your brand to their needs. Adopt a mobile analytics approach to understanding what parts of your mobile website work best for mobile marketing campaigns, including mobile advertising, mobile search marketing, text campaigns, and desktop promotion of mobile sites and services. This strategy will help ensure that mobile is consistent across all channels of your business.