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What Is Mobile Commerce and How to Get Started With It

21 min read

Over the past decade or so, mobile commerce (or m-commerce for those in the know) has quietly become a staple food in our shopping diet.

In the 2000s, the sight of a website loading on our cellphones seemed almost miraculous. But so much has changed since then, and it seems like these days we are headed towards immersion into AI and AR (augmented reality), and the sky’s the limit when it comes to mobile interface.

US mobile spending alone is poised to increase from $128.4 billion in 2019 to $418.9 billion by the end of 2024. As mobile shoppers take up more and more online commerce space, not having a separate m-commerce marketing plan could start to lose you thousands of dollars a year.

We’ll soon be shopping with the help of augmented reality

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the m-commerce landscape, starting with the basics. We’ll give you ideas for execution, optimization, and performance monitoring to help you make all your m-commerce dreams—even the ones you didn’t know you had until just now—come true.

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What Is M-Commerce?

M-commerce is a direct descendant of e-commerce. E-commerce is the act of buying and selling goods and services online. Customers are presented with a virtual store, load an online cart, and pay for their items. All from the comfort of home.

M-commerce is the same thing, except that all of the above can be done from the comfort of your palm. For example: you could order a whole new set of furniture for your house—while you’re on the beach, if you wanted.

Mobile phone presence is now a large part of consumers’ lives. From tweeting about their lunch to fine-tuning their Instagram bios, cell phones seem to rule the day. So it’s natural that mobile shopping also plays an essential part in everyday life.

But m-shopping has gotten an even bigger boost due to the arrival of COVID-19. Sezzle reported that nearly 80% of shoppers have increased mobile shopping since the start of the pandemic.

The pandemic has also acted as a catalyst for older generations. They’ve started to warm up to newer, online selling technologies; as they became worried about the safety of in-person shopping, or weren’t able to go to stores.

M-commerce is not only gaining traction, it’s also changing the way we define our mobile shopping experience. From AI-supported consumer marketing to live chatting options, customer service is also going mobile.

Let’s expand on some of these ideas:

Pros and Cons of M-Commerce

First, let’s find out what makes mobile commerce so great.

The benefits of m-commerce

Here’s why your business can benefit from mobile commerce.

Anywhere, anytime

Constant mobile accessibility means consumers can make purchases at any time, anywhere. If e-commerce has made shopping easier, then m-commerce has provided a whole new level of convenience. One can simply reach for their phones at any time and place an order in minutes.

Accessibility works both ways. Businesses can also reach customers in real-time by sending in-app push notifications. Whether it’s a percentage off deal, new product announcement, or a scheduled notification, these will be sure to catch a user’s attention.

Push notification stats via BusinessofApps

According to AirShip, right after the pandemic hit, direct open rates for mobile app push notifications reached their highest average rate in more than four years. Additionally, nearly one-third (32 percent) of website visits were from direct opens.

There are different types of push notifications. For example, push notifications about running discounts or special events. There are also non-transactional notifications that round off the shopping experience, such as notices about loyalty points, tips, and requests for a review.

Easily localized

Wait wait, there’s even more! Push notification marketing can take you even further: some brands send geo-targeted discounts to users with offers within 5 miles from their location.

Here’s a cheeky real-life example from Burger King. They called their campaign the “Whopper Detour.” It allowed anyone within 600 feet of a McDonald’s restaurant to order a Whopper for just 1 cent through the Burger King app.

If you’d like to reach your customers no matter where they are, your best bet is to expand by going omnichannel. This translates to the full coordination of products available via your store or online. Same stock, same seamless experience.

With Ecwid E-commerce, you can sell on your website, app, on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and in-person.

Learn more: What it Really Means to Sell Everywhere With Ecwid E-commerce

Tip: make sure your marketing efforts are coordinated across multiple platforms. For example, across Google Ads, social media, and your SEO strategy. This consistency can drive your online marketing success by increasing brand recognition.

Diverse payment options

One of the main reasons people like to shop from their phones is the range of payment options available. The convenience of not even having to take out their wallet is, according to many m-commerce users, what defines the mobile-first experience today.

Ensure people have 3-4 popular payment options. Credit cards, PayPal, Stripe, or digital wallet services like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay can all facilitate a quick buying experience.

If you sell with Ecwid E-commerce, you can choose from 60+ payment options to set up in your store. From m-commerce point of view, consider setting up Apple Pay and Google Pay to let your customers pay for their purchases in a single tap. They won’t have to retype credit card details and shipping info, and less steps on the way to purchase means less abandoned carts for you.

Limitations of m-commerce

Keep in mind the following when getting started with m-commerce.

The distraction factor

With today’s high mobile-usage, catching the attention of customers can be simple. However, if something is simple for you, you can bet it’s just as appealing to your competitors. And even when all the stars align and you hit a potential customer when they are open to a push notification, they might get an email, mid-scroll. Or a phone call. Or another reminder that pulls their attention away from your brand.

Mobile users are constantly bombarded with distracting notifications

So, how do you leverage this? Our simple answer: metrics.

Using metrics will ensure you’re on track with your marketing goals, and will also help you identify where you can improve. This comes especially in handy with regards to today’s competitive digital marketing landscape.

You can use visual reporting platforms and attractive marketing KPI dashboards to monitor your goals.

You can apply this strategy to the example of notifications by tracking the times at which they are sent and most opened. That can help you find the ideal window to engage with your audiences.

Comparison shopping

Consumers today are highly savvy. They don’t just sign up for the first pretty okay deal they see. They use comparison shopping to get the best bang for their buck.

Do some comparison shopping yourself, especially when you’re about to launch a campaign. What are your competitors selling? What are they charging for rival goods? How can you beat them? Analyze, then re-evaluate your tactics.

Technology woes

Sometimes apps aren’t supported by all m-operation systems. Or they’re glitchy. Or mobile responsive websites won’t load fast enough. With the addition of mobile into the lineup of devices, the likelihood of technical difficulties also increases.

When creating your mobile presence, hire experienced professionals who can deploy a system as simple or complex systems as you need, and are able to fix bugs on the fly.

If you’re an Ecwid seller, you don’t have to look for an external app developer. All paid plans users can request a ShopApp for their stores. ShopApp is a unique mobile app creator for your store. Your customers can install your app on their smartphones from Google Play or App Store, and shop in your store right from the phone screen. If you’re not looking for an app, but need a mobile responsive online store, Ecwid by Lightspeed still has your back. All Ecwid stores are mobile responsive by default, so you don’t need to change any code yourself, or hire developers.

How to Get Started With M-Commerce

M-commerce and m-commerce marketing is more than just coming up with some mobile-friendly ads and social media posts.

It requires its own strategy and often, a fresh mindset. No matter which stage you’re currently at with your mobile presence, you can apply the following tips to your business:

  • Keep up with trends (e.g. create an attractive filter through your brand name and share it on Snapchat and Instagram.)
  • Monitor what your competitors are doing locally
  • Invest in security.

Pay attention to mobile security

Investing in mobile security is not always at the top of an entrepreneur’s list. According to Verizon’s 2020 Mobile Security Index, 43 percent of organizations sacrificed mobile security in the past year.

But security is an invisible and necessary element to successful online businesses, especially with end-users becoming more and more privacy-conscious.

If you set up an online store with Ecwid E-commerce, both you and your customers can feel safe about your data. Ecwid E-commerce is PCI DSS Level 1 certified. This is the highest international standard for secure data exchanges for online stores and payment systems.

Optimize your m-commerce site or app

An m-commerce site (a.k.a a responsive website) and an app are two different things. A responsive site doubles as your main website and as your mobile presence. An app is developed separately and run on a mobile operating system.

The following tips work well for either solution.

Refresh your UX/UI

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) go hand-in-hand. When your customers visit a highly attractive website with an easy navigational experience, the amazing UI will enhance their experience and encourage them to return and become a repeat customer.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a confusing mobile experience. Users usually pick mobile shopping and browsing because of its inherent convenience. Giving them a bad site experience is more likely to steer them away from your store than their phones. And it’s not just about making everything smaller. Your customer’s journey through your site needs to be simple and clean, with well-targeted CTAs and a clear checkout process.

A few things you can implement right away:

  • Make sure your font is readable on mobile devices
  • Make sure the image sizes and quality are optimized for mobile
  • Create an attractive CTA button
  • Provide swipe-features for a better experience

Amazon’s yellow CTA button is well-recognized

Make it fast

Mobile users are some of the most impatient people out there. The good news is, Google can help—the search giant provides a handful of technical information for your developers to pay attention to when handling your mobile site or app.

Some say, for every one second you shave off your load time, you can make hundreds or thousands of additional conversions. This makes sense. After all, the faster you can guide your customers through the sales funnel, the more money you can make.

Stay away from Flash, large images, and redundant scripts. Optimize your mobile experience to be clean and lean. Regularly check load times yourself. If your interface is far from perfect, check out this instructional guide to improving your store loading speed.

Make it SEO-friendly

A fast site or app is a good signal for Google to rank you in its searches. But there’s more to mobile SEO than that.

Google’s mobile-first indexing came into effect in 2016. This means that instead of evaluating the desktop version of a website, search engines rank pages based on the mobile experience.

By following the previously mentioned optimization strategies (better UI, faster load times), you are already doing your best to rank higher. Add some keyword research and on-page/off-page SEO to the mix, and you’re golden.

On-page SEO includes strategies like creating quality content using high-ranking keywords, and optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, has to do with your overall social media strategy, and digital marketing efforts as a whole. Together, they’re a SEO powerful duo!

To see how your site/app fares in Google’s mobile-first evaluation, run a mobile-friendly test.

Implement a user-friendly design

Let’s expand on the importance of a good UI/UX design. Often, it’s the deciding factor in a user’s first impression of your store. Don’t make it their last.

First thing’s first: create a straight-forward structure. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel here: if people see a structure on your store that is commonly used on other sites, the familiarity will make their navigation process comfortable, and they’ll walk away feeling like your store is easy to maneuver.

For example, having the “hamburger” icon open the navigation menu is expected behavior. Aim to develop and test a landing page that draws people in.

Amazon shopping app is super easy to navigate

Scrolling or swiping with one hand should be effortless. If the user is stopped with a pop-up at every two swipes, they might get annoyed and leave. It’s hard enough to tap the close button on a pop-up on mobile — don’t give your users a reason to get frustrated and leave.

Keep it simple. This is especially important for forms. They are boring to fill out, so keep the questions clear and the layout clean. One question per page type tools (such as Typeform) can make your life even easier.

There’s one more important factor here: something that so many m-commerce stores overlook. At checkout, make sure to have a numpad come up when the user is entering their credit card number. It makes the checkout process faster, and more convenient.

Last, but not least, keep your design as clean as possible. What does this mean on mobile devices? Try using icons instead of text, or omitting unnecessary images. It’s completely fine if your mobile site or app does not look exactly like its desktop sibling.

If you sell with Ecwid E-commerce, you don’t have to worry about optimizing your store for mobile — it’s already mobile-friendly. You can also manage it from your smartphone or tablet with our Ecwid Mobile App. In fact, you can create your entire website using just our app! Talk about m-commerce friendly!

Connect with social marketing

Nowadays, certain types of social media posts only work well on mobile, such as stories and live updates. Creation and scheduling of these types of posts can be done with a social media tool.

To succeed on any mobile platform, you need to keep your posts bite-sized, yet powerful. Keep your visuals clean, and your text easy to read (no tiny fonts!). What you want to say with your post needs to be clear right away. You only have a fraction of the second to catch the user’s attention while they scroll.

The “Amazon Fashion” account on Instagram connects to consumers via influencers

Make sure to always use correct image sizes. A social media post that has part of its image cut off looks amateurish. Right after publishing mobile web pages, check them out on your phone to make sure they look the same as those shared on Facebook.

Many online stores thrive on social media by sharing user-generated content. This works well because audiences like seeing how products are used.

Try different post types, such as selfies, videos, or product photos, and monitor the success of each.

Provide mobile payment options

As society goes cashless, mobile users are evolving towards being cardless.

That means that mobile payment can mean two things in the world of m-commerce.

Firstly, the ability to accept payments on a smartphone or tablet via NFC or an attachable card reader. This can be used in physical stores using a handheld checkout terminal.

Secondly, accepting payment from mobile wallets, or mobile money transfers that eliminate the need for checks and invoices.

Mobile payment solutions rose in popularity at an accelerated rate after the start of COVID-19. For example, Lee Valley Tools, a Canadian woodworking and hardware store introduced a fully contactless experience in-store.

Their mobile payment feature does not need to be downloaded to a mobile device. Instead, customers simply visit when they enter the physical store, click on the barcode icon, select their store location and start shopping.

When you complete a user’s journey with a mobile payment, you may be thinking “ta-da! I’m done strategizing!” But alas, your marketing cycle still requires one more step: nurturing. You can use a follow-up email sequence or quiz marketing to prime the customer for a new purchase and make sure they don’t forget your brand.

This post-conversion tactic also helps you gain a better understanding of your audience, by learning which engagement tactics work best and what other products customers tend to be interested in.

In Conclusion

M-commerce is a rapidly growing industry. It can complement your existing e-commerce strategy or be used on its own to great success.

Start your journey into m-commerce by understanding your customers. Then, evaluate your current mobile strengths and weaknesses, and implement quick fixes where you can. Continuously revise your general m-commerce strategy to keep up with industry trends.

Mobile users have predominantly higher expectations when it comes to m-commerce speed and ease of use. Yet, the accelerated growth and spending habits of this audience makes the investment worthwhile.

Don’t believe us? Start your m-commerce journey today, and see for yourself.

Do you want to learn more about selling on mobile?

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About the author

Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot Sales, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc. Connect with him via LinkedIN, Twitter, or email:

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