M-Commerce: What it is and How to Succeed in 2021

updated September 21, 2022
Reading time15 minutes
Igor Shekotihin
Igor Shekotihin
Head of International Growth

The way customers buy products has changed.

Instead of walking into a brick-and-mortar store, customers are now buying what they need online — and increasingly, using their mobile phone to do so. This year is expected to be the first time that the majority of ecommerce sales, nearly 54%, are made through a mobile device.

Source: Statista

This type of purchasing is called m-commerce — where transactions are made solely using mobile devices. And with the number of mobile phone users expected to grow to 4.3 billion by 2023, m-commerce will likely remain a popular channel for online sales.

Online vendors need to recognize the distinct differences between e-commerce and m-commerce. To take full advantage of m-commerce, sites must be optimized for smartphones, set up to accept payments, and have a checkout process that works on any smartphone.

In this piece, we’re going to discuss:

  • What is M-commerce?
  • M-commerce vs. E-commerce
  • Why is M-commerce Important?
  • Different Types of Mobile Commerce and Their Benefits
  • 8 Ways Businesses Can Succeed With M-commerce
  • How Omnichannel Messengers Can Improve Mobile Sales and Support
  • The Future of Mobile Commerce

Let’s get started.

What is M-commerce?

M-commerce, otherwise known as mobile commerce, is the sale and purchase of products and services via a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone.

As m-commerce is a form of e-commerce, it allows people to shop how they usually would online, using technology like mobile app payments and simple interfaces to streamline the checkout process. Other m-commerce examples include purchases made in proprietary apps, like Amazon’s mobile app, as well as online banking.

Differences Between M-commerce and E-commerce

M-commerce and e-commerce are similar, but there are some key differences.

Optimized m-commerce sites have simple user interfaces and checkouts, and they also tend to use images more than text. E-commerce stores may have onsite customer service chat options, while m-commerce sites can offer other more mobile-friendly ways to communicate like SMS and WhatsApp.

Here are some other differences:

Better reach

Shoppers can visit m-commerce sites from any location, provided they have a smartphone and an internet connection. With the right technology, companies can deliver marketing content to shoppers based on their geographic location, or configure their websites to show specific products or offers, based on the user’s location.

Increased security

Security is always a concern for any internet shopper. Customers using m-commerce to purchase products online will have a combination of security, thanks to the controls on the website plus those already integrated into their mobile device. For example, many mobile devices now have added security measures like fingerprint ID, facial recognition, and two-factor authentication to reduce fraudulent transactions.

Simple to use

Sites optimized for m-commerce are streamlined to be mobile-friendly, whereas traditional e-commerce sites may have a lot of information on a page. M-commerce shoppers use a smaller device screen, so the site must be simplified to fit it.

Why is M-commerce Important?

M-commerce is important because of what is quickly becoming the reality of online shopping: Customers prefer using their mobile devices.

With the e-commerce market as a whole expected to reach $845 billion by 2022 and m-commerce now making up over half of all online sales, it's easy to do the math: M-commerce is on its way to becoming a half-trillion-dollar industry, and it's expected to keep growing:

  • Mobile devices are an important part of consumers buying journeys — one-third of all buying decisions are now influenced by research conducted on a mobile device
  • Over half of online retailers have now created a mobile app to accompany their sites, with more expected to follow
  • The number of online shoppers using mobiles to make purchases is expected to reach nearly 170 million in the United States alone

All of these statistics highlight why it's so crucial for online vendors to optimize their sites and get in on the action.

The good news is that m-commerce is a market that every vendor — big and small — can take advantage of if their sites are properly optimized. With some small tweaks like a simpler checkout process, improved site speed, and offering more payment options, any vendor can turn their online site into an m-commerce success.

Different Types of Mobile Commerce and Their Benefits

Mobile shopping

Mobile shopping is one of the major types of m-commerce, allowing people to browse, select, and purchase items from their mobile devices.

This type of m-commerce relies on optimized websites or custom apps launched by vendors to simplify and streamline customers' shopping experiences. Mobile shopping can also be accessed through social media — all a vendor has to do is add their website link to social media pages or advertisements and drive potential customers straight to their store.

Mobile banking

Another growing type of m-commerce is mobile banking, which allows customers to access their accounts and make a transaction from their phone.

Similar to online banking, mobile banking allows customers to transfer money, set up direct debit payments, and check their account balances. Some banks are even beginning to explore other options to make it easier for customers to bank using their mobile phones by adding widgets like chatbots.

Mobile app payments

Mobile app payments are a key part of m-commerce as they actually facilitate the purchase of a product from a mobile phone.

Thanks to the growing popularity of app payments, there are now many options for both vendors and customers to choose from. They include:

  • Contactless payments: These are payments that are made in person using a mobile device instead of a card or cash. To make a payment, all a customer has to do is open their "mobile wallet" and hover a virtual card over the card terminal. Some of the first companies to develop this software were Apple (Apple Pay) and Google (Google Pay).
  • Closed-loop payments: These types of mobile payments use the same technology like mobile apps, but instead of using an app like Apple Pay, you use an exclusive app for the brand you're shopping with. The best-known examples of closed-loop payments are major vendors like Starbucks and Walmart.
  • Mobile point-of-sale (POS) payments: Mobile POS systems are a solution for small businesses to collect card payments without the costly setup of a traditional card reader. A vendor simply uses a small, wireless card reader to process customer payments straight from their mobile wallets. Some of the most popular mobile POS systems around are built by companies like PayPal and iZettle.
  • Peer-to-peer payments: These types of mobile payments occur from customer to customer and give people an instant way to transfer money from one account to another. Early adopters of peer-to-peer payments were PayPal and Google, with others like Venmo and Square launching similar products.

8 Ways Businesses Can Succeed With M-commerce

First impressions are important for any business but are even more crucial for online retailers.

When a customer lands on your website, they can make up their mind in just a few seconds whether they want to continue browsing. Statistics show that poor user experience can lead to customers abandoning a site altogether, with 58% of adults saying the experience would impact their decision to shop with the brand in the future.

The bottom line is sites with a poor interface or user experience can alienate potential customers and cause them to bounce instantly.

The good news is that, with a few adjustments, you can add features and functionality to your site and give potential customers the optimized experience they want.

Here are eight ways you can improve your website for m-commerce 👇

1. Optimize your mobile site speed

Site speed is one of the most important factors for visitors when they land on your site.

A Pingdom analysis of Visitor Insights data found that the average site takes 3.21 seconds to load. Sites that keep their load speeds to 2 seconds or less only experienced, on average, a bounce rate of 9%. But if that load time takes 5 seconds, the bounce rate explodes to nearly 40%.

Source: Pingdom

Understanding how your site performs is the first step in improving its speed. You can use a tool like PageSpeed Insights to get a (free!) detailed breakdown of how well your site is performing and what you need to improve.

Source: PageSpeed Insights

The best way to improve load time and site speed is to optimize every inch of your site — from images to code to tracking snippets:

  • Minimize your code: This process is called "minifying," and it removes all of the unnecessary whitespaces from your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Optimize every image: M-commerce sites are notorious for having large libraries of images, one of the leading causes of slow page speeds. Use a tool like ShortPixel Image Optimizer or Imagify to compress and optimize your images in bulk.
  • Cut back on tracking snippets: Using large amounts of tracking code can slow down your site, so use a tool like Google Tag Manager to simplify and automate your tracking snippets.

2. Simplify your checkout process

Around 70% of online customers abandon their carts at the checkout, but you can make some small improvements to your checkout process to reduce cart abandonment.

First, simplify your checkout process. Customers do not like having to create an account just to buy a product from you, so consider adding a guest checkout option to speed up the process. And if you’re going to charge your customers for shipping and taxes, be upfront about it — 50% of shoppers will abandon carts at the checkout because of surprise costs.

(Pro-tip: We've created a helpful guide on how to stop your customers from abandoning their carts at the checkout — read it here!)

3. Provide multiple payment options

There are now more options than ever for customers to choose how to pay for their purchases, and channels like PayPal and Stripe are continuing to grow.

Over 360 million registered users now use PayPal to pay for purchases online, and roughly 70 million new accounts are opened every year.

Source: Statista

The reality is that when a customer is shopping on your site, they may want to pay using a traditional method like a direct debit or another option like Apple Pay, PayPal, or Stripe. Aim to offer as many payment options on your site as possible so that when a customer gets to the checkout, they can use the one they prefer.

4. Develop a native application

Online businesses are increasingly cutting out third-party providers and building their own native apps to improve m-commerce experiences for their customers.

Why? Simple — customers prefer apps over online websites. 78% of consumers say they would prefer to purchase products using an app rather than a mobile website. They say that apps are more convenient, they’re faster, and their personal information is already stored in the app.

Source: BuildFire

When you create an app to complement your online store, make sure that it emulates your online brand, incorporates all of your current payment channels, and streamlines your customer’s buying journey. Not only will you create a more personalized experience for your customer, but you’ll also have another channel to market to them, thanks to push notifications.

5. Launch a mobile marketing campaign

Launching a mobile marketing campaign can help you target potential customers using tools only available for mobile devices, like in-app ads, push notifications, and mobile pop-ups. Marketing campaigns for existing customers might include SMS "flash sale" or "limited time offer" notifications.

6. Provide omnichannel support

M-commerce isn’t just about selling — it can help you improve customer support services, too.

By taking an omnichannel approach, vendors can provide support through various mobile-friendly channels like chatbots and WhatsApp to talk to their customers in real-time and quickly answer questions.

Omnichannel messengers like JivoChat allow businesses to chat in real-time with visitors, personalizing their experience and, at the same time, boosting conversion rates. Your customer service team can use voice services, chat over email, and even integrate different CRM platforms to improve their responsiveness.

What a customer sees when they use JivoChat to interact with customer service.

The best part is that every conversation with every customer is kept in a single place, making it easier for your customer service reps to catch up on issues so they can respond appropriately.

An example of JivoChat’s omnichannel dashboard, where various communication channels are linked in a single screen.

7. Train agents to upsell and cross-sell

Investing in some simple omnichannel tools can boost your upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Having important data about who is visiting your site and whether they are returning customers can empower your customer service team to offer personalized upsells. If your agents know that someone is an existing customer and has purchased a product from your site before, they can then recommend a similar product or an add-on to boost sales.

8. Review analytics data

Every m-commerce site will rely on analytics to see what is working and what needs improvement.

Combining Google Analytics data with any data pulled from your website's live chat tool can give you a unique insight into your visitors' behavior. You can analyze what calls to action are working best on your product pages and how well your customer service team deals with requests.

Integrating Google Analytics with a tool like JivoChat means you can break down your site’s bounce rate, track returning visitors, and uncover what is driving customers to your site.

How Omnichannel Messengers Can Improve Mobile Sales and Support

Omnichannel messengers support your m-commerce site.

Not only are they optimized for mobile devices, but they also allow you to chat with site visitors in real-time, improve customer experience, and boost your conversion rates.

Here’s how:

Omnichannel messengers encourage proactivity

When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, you may be greeted by a staff member and asked if you need assistance. Omnichannel messengers allow you to provide the same experience for m-commerce customers, using proactive chat.

The idea is simple: You engage with new visitors as soon as they land on your site and ask if they need any help before they reach out to you.

Our motto at JivoChat is that it's always better to be proactive when it comes to customer service than reactive. And the studies back us up. Businesses that use proactive chat average an incremental 105% return-on-investment, so it pays to engage with new visitors as soon as they land on your site.

Reduce response times with canned messages

When a customer engages with your live chat, they expect a quick answer. An analysis of over 50 million live chats found that the average time a customer waits for an answer is just 46 seconds. This is a tough objective for m-commerce sites to reach, especially smaller vendors who can’t monitor their online chats 24/7.

The answer? Canned messages.

Canned messages give vendors a way to respond to common customer queries without writing each one from scratch. These messages can also be integrated with chatbots, so that chatbots can respond to inquiries when your agents aren’t available.

A canned response can be added directly to your customer response in JivoChat's omnichannel messaging tool:

Source: JivoChat

Use preset messages for m-commerce customers

Preset messages help guide your customers and connect them with the right member of your customer service team.

Preset messages are tied to a playbook within an onsite chat app. Each time a customer answers a question, or chooses from a list of multiple choice options, the chat app will automatically guide them to an appropriate response in your knowledge base or connect them with a customer service rep:

Source: JivoChat

Set action-based triggers

Action-based triggers are consumer actions (or inaction) that trigger an automated response.

Let’s say a visitor has spent a bit of time on your checkout page, but they haven’t completed their purchase. Inside JivoChat, you previously created an action-based trigger to automatically send a follow-up email to this type of visitor to try and guide them back to the checkout:

Source: JivoChat

Action-based triggers are a great way to increase conversions and personalize automated messages for visitors. And the best part is that it's all done automatically — after you establish the initial triggers, this feature runs independently.

The Future of Mobile Commerce

There are strong indications that the popularity of m-commerce will continue to grow with both vendors and customers.

55% of tablet owners already use tablets to shop online, and mobile phone users are now reaching for their devices when they are shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Nearly 60% of smartphone users in the US have used their mobiles to compare deals and look up prices when they’re in a store, proving that mobile devices are now an important part of a customer’s buying journey.

With 73% of customers now shopping across multiple channels, and the number of people signing up for mobile payment options like PayPal experiencing steady growth, the M-commerce industry isn’t going anywhere.

Our advice to vendors is simple: prepare your sites for customers who are shopping on their mobile devices, and do your best to optimize their experience.

Are You Ready to Master M-commerce?

M-commerce is now the fastest-growing channel for online sales.

For vendors who are already online, optimizing existing sites for m-commerce is a worthwhile endeavor. By reformatting images to load quickly, updating code to improve site speed, and simplifying the checkout process, you can create a better customer experience. And a better experience is likely to result in more returning customers.

To take m-commerce to the next level, you need to look further at omnichannel messaging and live chat solutions. Customers using mobile devices to shop expect quick answers to questions and a smooth buying experience. Live chat and chatbots can help you meet — and exceed — customer expectations.

Interested in reading more about how you can improve your m-commerce experience with an omnichannel tool? Click here to learn about JivoChat!

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