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Seven Essentials for the New World of m-Commerce

Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

June 23, 2014

Seven Essentials for the New World of m-Commerce

By Sam Ganga
Executive Vice President, Commercial Division

The growth of mobile and the transition to m-commerce is breathtaking in its speed and depth. According to a recent study, m-commerce is “saturating the globe,” with mobile continuing to drive an unprecedented transformation of online and offline sales. Below is a guide with top tips for businesses working to keep up, and lead, in the new world of mobile commerce.

1. m-Commerce Growth: It’s Time for Mobile First Now

If  businesses are giving lip service to the “Mobile First” mantra, now is the time to take it seriously. For years, analysts have predicted substantial movement towards mobile commerce, but the speed and depth of the shift to m-commerce has taken most by surprise. For businesses, the question isn’t “if” they should adopt m-commerce. It’s “how.”

According to Goldman Sachs’ latest report, m-commerce, which accounted for a little more than one quarter of total e-commerce retail sales in 2014, will account for nearly half of all e-commerce sales in 2018. That’s three times the growth for m-commerce while non-mobile e-commerce is predicted to grow only 31 percent over the same period.

It’s clear that if you’re not tapping mobile commerce as a sales channel, you’re going to be leaving an increasingly large amount of money on the table. But you’ll be missing out on other benefits too: the intimacy of mobile devices, the fact that they’re almost always with shoppers, the ability to send push notifications, location-based services and barcode scanning to enhance the shopping experience. These are just a few of the reasons transitioning to mobile is vital.

2. Tablets vs. Smartphones: The Difference Matters

Smart marketers need to take care not to lump all mobile devices into a single category. Understanding the differences in the use of tablets and smartphones is important to maximizing m-commerce revenue.

According to Pew (News - Alert) Research, 58 percent of American adults own a smartphone and 42 percent of American adults own a tablet computer. While there are far fewer tablets in circulation than smartphones in the U.S. market, a deeper analysis of sales figures shows some surprising insights. BI Intelligence reports that when compared to smartphones, tablets attract higher overall web traffic (seven percent vs. nine percent), have much higher average order values ($124 vs. $151) and deliver more than seven times the conversion rates on paid search clicks.

This is a clear reminder that buyer journeys are multi-channel. It’s important to keep users engaged and interested across all channels. By all means, build native apps to deliver engaging immersive user experiences, but don’t neglect the need to use responsive web design to make sure you’re offering a great web commerce experience to users on tablets.

3. Good News for Traditional Retailers: Showrooming is Down, Webrooming is Up

Among the hundreds of new words that technology regularly introduces to the English language, showrooming and webrooming are two of the newest ones. For the uninitiated, here is what they mean:

Showrooming is when users visit a showroom to experience the actual product and, while still in the store, go online on their mobile devices to check the prices at online stores (say, Amazon).

Webrooming is essentially the opposite, users go online to research the products and read reviews, but finish the actual purchase in a physical store.

There is good news for traditional retailers when it comes to both. An Accenture (News - Alert) report has pointed out that while 73 percent of mobile shoppers indulge in showrooming, 88 percent treat themselves to webrooming. This data should come as an encouragement to brick and mortar stores, which are otherwise wary of their shoppers moving to online stores.

More shoppers than ever are using their mobile devices to research and purchase; and, according to the IBM (News - Alert) survey, price consistency across online and physical stores is what most consumers demand.

Retailers need to engage consumers effectively and consistently online, through both mobile devices and PCs, and deliver a consistent experience in-store. Consumers need to be able to easily connect their online experience with their in-store experience and vice-versa.

4. Loyalty and Personalization: Consumers are More Willing to Share Personal Information… For a Price

Mobiles, especially smartphones, include sensors and apps that can deliver a huge amount of personal data on individual users including contact lists, locations, social interactions and even vital signs.

This data, along with transaction history, in-store and online browsing behavior and more, can provide extremely detailed insights about personal behavior, preferences and the likes and dislikes of mobile shoppers. In turn, this would enable marketers to come closer to achieving the Holy Grail of marketing, completely personalized and contextual offers that increase conversion rates and improve returns on marketing dollars. This personalization of commerce is in its infancy, but still well underway. The good news for retailers is that shoppers are becoming more willing to share their personal information—particularly if they get good value in exchange.

Retailers who have been skeptical of the buying public’s willingness to share personal information need to embrace the trend, but be prepared to offer value for data.

5. In-Store Mobile: Solving a Lot of Problems for Traditional Retailers

Mobile appears to be a remarkably good solution for things consumers have been complaining about for years:

A. Store associates who don’t know about what’s being sold.

You know what this is like. You’ve been researching, you understand what you’re buying, but you have a key question or two. You ask an associate, but it’s obvious they know less than half of what you do. Mobile devices in the hands of associates can give them ready access to the answers you want.

B. What’s available?

We‘ve all gone to the store and been unable to find what we’re looking for, even though we’re looking in the right area. Eventually you succeed in finding an associate and ask, “Do you have any X? I don’t see them on the shelf.” You then watch the associate start scanning the shelves just like you’ve been doing for the last 10 minutes. With a mobile device, the associate can check inventory on the spot, see if what you want is hiding in the stock room, or at another location, and even order your item (if it’s in another location) for delivery to your home.

C. Long checkout lines.

As Apple (News - Alert) has taught us, associates armed with mobile Point-of-Sale devices can get you out the door faster. A new report by Infogroup indicates that the number of retailers using mobile POS systems will triple by 2018.  Even better are mobile apps and other solutions  that offer loyal customers options for self-checkout. Walmart offers a “Scan & Go” app that allows shoppers to scan products with their mobile devices.

6. Mobile Marketing: Shorter, Social and Native

While we have been hearing a lot about the promise of mobile marketing, 2014 could be a watershed year. Marketers have realized that a new type of mobile-centric approach is needed. At this moment, the popular thinking is that this means smaller duration, five and 10 seconds long, videos and gamified ads.

Also, advertising will become social, a part of the social media interactions of users. This trend is already developing significantly…you can easily find marketers using platforms like Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest to reach the social stream of mobile users.

Native advertising, advertising that delivers useful content in the context of the user’s experience, is gaining traction with marketers and consumers. Marketers will increasingly resort to native formats to counter the “ad-blindness” of traditional advertising formats.

7. Wearables: Keep an Eye on This Space, but Nothing to Worry About Yet

During the last couple of years, the promise of wearable devices has hung heavy in the air. Juniper has claimed that 2014 will be a “watershed year” for wearables, with Google Glass, Samsung (News - Alert) smartwatches, Apple iWatch, and other devices, but privacy will be an issue as cameras become more and more ubiquitous. Juniper states: “wearable devices represent a ‘nice to have’ and not a ‘must have’ for consumers.”


With mobile devices growing ever more popular and sophisticated, they’re becoming deeply embedded in the mainstream of commerce. Business Insider estimates that more than 1 billion smartphones will be shipped in 2014.

Mobile commerce is much more than having a mobilized website and an app. With careful planning and vision, it can deliver tremendous value and competitiveness to businesses. And, there is a huge range of possibilities for businesses of all shapes and sizes. The convenience of buying on the go, comparing availability and prices of products and availability of special offers and coupons is drawing users to mobile as the preferred shopping platform. Mobile is also well suited to solve problems and build connections for retailers in every way they touch consumers, on-line, off-line, in-store, etc. As mobile devices continue to sweep the planet, there’s really no foreseeable limit to how important mobile will become for commerce. As the first section of this paper stated, if mobile isn’t first for you yet, you should make it so as quickly as possible.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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