Mobile eCommerce, also known as mCommerce, is rapidly growing. It is imperative that new eCommerce businesses develop a mobile eCommerce site and strategy. However, mobile eCommerce doesn’t just mean your customers are viewing your site on mobile device – mobility can change the way your customers shop.
Why Is Mobile eCommerce Important?
According to a report by eMarketer, mobile eCommerce – also known as mCommerce – has experienced explosive growth in the last few years. mCommerce grew 81 percent from 2011 to 2012, and it is expected to grow another 56 percent in 2013. eCommerce businesses simply can’t ignore mobile shoppers, but it is important to realize that mCommerce shoppers may be shopping in a completely different way than your regular eCommerce customers utilizing your desktop site, and it is important to tailor the mobile experience to take advantage of these differences.
Smartphones And Preshopping
Most mobile eCommerce use smartphones, which have smaller screens than tablets and usually require a dedicated mobile website or responsive site for an optimal experience. Some mCommerce shoppers may prefer the experience of shopping from their couch with a smartphone, but others may be utilizing their smartphone from inside a brick and mortar retail store and engaging in “preshopping” activities. These activities may include doing product research, comparing the features and reviews of comparable products and making price comparisons. This can give some eCommerce retailers a distinct advantage by offering more information and potentially lower prices to consumers.
When developing an mCommerce strategy and site, it is important to make sure that your content is being displayed in a manner that is clean, clear and legible. Most mCommerce shoppers that are preshopping are standing in front of a physical product in-store. They can clearly see, touch and feel the product in question and a price tag is prominently displayed. The store may also have comparable products located in the immediate vicinity. In order to compete with the immediacy of traditional shopping, your mCommerce site should display a clear and distinct image of the product, the price should be prominently displayed and product information should be immediately available.
It is also important to prominently display customer reviews of the product in question and a list of comparable products. If any of this content is obscured or illegible on a smartphone screen, it is unlikely that the customer will spend a lot of time adjusting the web browser to locate the information they need – the brick and mortar retail shopping experience has prevailed.
Another vital element of a successful mCommerce site is findability. Through the use of apps and a touchscreen interface, most smartphone users cycle through content very quickly. A shopper may want to consult other mCommerce sites, or locate information on a manufacturers website. They may want to consult their bank or credit card company’s mobile website or app to check a balance. Or navigating away from your site may be as simple as a distraction from a brick and mortar sales associate, a shopping companion or a child. No matter the reason, the shopper has navigated away from the product on your mCommerce site and may want to locate that product page again, very quickly. If they are unable to find the content they are searching for, it is possible that the immediacy of the brick and mortar shopping experience will again prevail over your mCommerce site.
Finally, it is important to make the mCommerce checkout experience as easily and seamless as possible. One way to ensure that your customers can easily purchase a product from your site is to store payment and address information through the use of user accounts on your mCommerce site. This will ensure that your mCommerce customer is not required to enter credit card numbers, addresses and other payment and shipping details through a smartphone keyboard. If you discover that a large percentage of your customers are mCommerce customers, it may be important to consider the benefits of releasing a mobile app for your eCommerce business. The advantages of an app include storing customer payment and shipping details directly on the mobile device, and apps can also integrate instant payment solutions like Google Wallet. Some disadvantages of mobile apps include development and the ongoing costs of support and maintenance.