Do you think that is an exaggeration? Just think back a little while to when Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPad. Did you think that the iPad was just a large iPhone that you couldn’t use for making calls, or did you instantly recognize it to be game-changing technology?
The same is true for mobile shopping. At this moment in time, Mobile commerce, or mCommerce for short, comprises only 1.5% of the total number of online purchases in the US, but that number is growing fast. The future predictions for mCommerce will soon parallel the popularity of mobile devices.
In Europe, the number of mobile shoppers has doubled in the last year and is set to double again over the next 18 months or so.
Mobile devices are changing the way that customers shop online
Despite the increasing desire of customers to buy using a mobile device, many items end up not being bought. The reason for this is that a large number of websites, even specially designed mobile websites, are not optimized for the buying process.
The most common complaints of mobile shoppers include web pages that are slow to load, web pages that won’t resize to fit the screen, and navigation that is difficult to use. As a result, mobile websites often have a higher bounce rate than traditional internet sites. Add to that issues with safety, a lack of product information, and a complicated or lengthy buying process, and you have the ingredients for failure. And to think that all this is going on while early studies have already clearly shown that people who shop on mobile devices tend to spend more money compared to when they are shopping at home.
The solution is to develop more mobile-friendly websites or buyer-friendly applications that can really streamline this process for the mobile environment. If the technology can match customers’ requirements, there is huge potential for tempting mobile device users to buy much more than they are now.
While mobile applications and websites have made it possible to shop on the go, it is the tablet that is showing the largest growth when it comes to mCommerce.
Mobile shopping used to be something that was done quickly on the train commute home, perhaps to buy a last-minute gift. Now, however, many mobile shoppers shop from the comfort of their couch using a tablet device, hence the invention of another recent term, namely couch-commerce. Tablets are said to be more popular because they are less cumbersome than laptops. (Remember when we used to think that about laptops versus desktop computers? It seems so long ago!) Tablet users prefer to shop from mobile websites rather than applications.
So, the logical conclusion, once again, is that a user-friendly mobile website is essential if your business want to benefit from the rise of couch-commerce, which is an important part of mCommerce.
It is important to understand that there is more to a mobile website than mobile shopping alone, just like there is more to the buying process than handing over the credit card. Customers can choose to use a mobile device at any stage of the buying process. They might access your site looking for an article. Perhaps they just want to do some preliminary research before making their final decision in a physical store environment. Smartphones especially are often used in a store environment to compare prices or to look up reviews, and indecisive shoppers might share a photo on one of their social media sites to get their friends’ opinions. That is why a mobile website also has to inform and not just sell. A mobile site needs to be optimized for both these purposes.
The best advice that businesses should take to heart at this time is to keep an eye on their website traffic. If you see a rise in mobile traffic, the time is right for you to invest in a solid mCommerce strategy. If you already have a mobile site, and your bounce rate is high, you need to upgrade your mobile site. Do this sooner rather than later, because mCommerce is here to stay.
Over to you…
So, are you ready for mCommerce? Share your views…