The smartphone has become a must-have item in today’s interconnected world, and along with other mobile devices, it will continue to shape our daily lives in unprecedented ways. Research has shown that 9 out of 10 consumers in the US keep their phones within reach at all hours of the day, further cementing the fact that mobile technology is here to stay. It’s only natural then, that mobile devices hold the top spot among digital platforms today. American global media measurement and analytics company comScore’s recent research found that total activity on smartphones and tablets accounted for an astounding 60% of digital media time spent in the US.
Mobile devices are also disrupting the way businesses market their products and services. The rise of mobile commerce has seen many companies reviewing the way they perceive e-commerce and refining their digital marketing strategies to appeal to the target market. Personalised retargeting company Criteo found that in 2016, 52% of all e-commerce transactions in the US were completed on a mobile device, highlighting the fact that mobile devices are not only used to search and browse the internet, but are also very much a key feature in e-commerce transactions. In recent years, many businesses have become more aware of this and have risen to the occasion by creating mobile-optimised sites and mobile apps to meet public demand, thereby further bolstering the growth of mobile commerce.
Mobile commerce is the in-thing today
The pervasive use of mobile devices for e-commerce activities comes as a result of mobile users increasingly choosing mobile devices over desktops when doing their online shopping. Vast technological advancement – specifically smartphone screens getting bigger with each new edition – has definitely helped to push mobile devices to the fore as the key technology for today’s fast-paced world. This has led to the massive growth of mobile commerce – it is anticipated that by the end of 2017, over 2 billion mobile phone or tablet users will carry out some form of mobile commerce transaction, and by 2020, 45% of all e-commerce activities will come from mobile commerce.
The reach of mobile commerce is not only restricted to retail customers, but extends to the retailers themselves as well. A 2016 survey by research authority LexisNexis on more than 1,000 US-based merchants found that 16% have already put in place a mobile shopping channel, while 32% were considering doing so the following year. Mobile commerce has also gained ground with e-commerce merchants: findings showed that 80% of e-commerce retailers with at least US$50 million in annual sales are either currently offering, or plan to offer mobile commerce. Having made an early start in digital marketing, mobile commerce would naturally be the next step for them.
Mobile apps are leading the way
Apart from investing a large percentage of the marketing budget on creating mobile sites, businesses should also be looking to expand resources on developing mobile apps. Recent data from Yahoo’s Flurry analytics shows that 90% of a mobile user’s time is spent on apps. This knowledge provides a strong impetus for companies to take that leap into mobile app development, in addition to maintaining a mobile-optimised site. E-commerce businesses, in particular, should take the popularity of mobile apps into consideration when formulating their digital marketing strategies.
Research has shown that consumers prefer using mobile apps instead of mobile sites as the former provides a better shopping experience and is more customised to their preferences. Today’s discerning consumers have come to expect a positive mobile experience in terms of speed, convenience and functionality, which is something that native mobile apps bring to the table. Having more features and capabilities such as push messages and alerts also place mobile apps at an advantage over mobile sites when it comes to product outreach and visibility.
In a research entitled The State of Mobile Commerce 2016, Criteo found that mobile apps have double the amount of new user retention power compared to mobile sites. This means that new mobile app users are twice as likely to return to the mobile app within 30 days as opposed to mobile web users. Also, the majority of customers who continue using a particular mobile app for a fortnight are more inclined to become long-term users. These numbers are great news for e-commerce retailers everywhere, as it offers them a better chance of garnering repeat customers. And repeat (read: loyal) customers are good for business as it has been proven that it’s far more profitable and less expensive for a business to retain loyal customers than to attract new ones!
Social media remains a significant force
The future of mobile commerce looks promising, and with Facebook having 1.13 billion active users daily (Statista, 2016), mobile commerce is set to become even more prominent. E-commerce owes a big part of its popularity to social media: According to Social Media Examiner, 90% of all marketers had indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. The introduction of buy buttons on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook in 2015 have also bolstered revenue figures for e-commerce retailers everywhere. Buy buttons allow customers to purchase items from their mobile devices quickly and conveniently, offering a seamless payment experience. Strategically placed on every webpage on an e-commerce mobile site, it encourages impulsive buyers to make a purchase without taking too long to decide. This method is based on proof that a customer is less likely to make a purchase the longer they take to think before finalising the purchase.
The rise of influencer marketing shows marketers are privy to the fact that consumers are more inclined to trust recommendations from family and friends, as opposed to mere advertisements by companies. This is also the main reason for the popularity of social media platforms as a marketing tool for mobile commerce. Businesses are now giving customers the option of logging in to the mobile website through Facebook or Google+, in an effort to lead them to the advertisements placed within their news feeds. The vast number of social media users automatically guarantees massive outreach and publicity for a business’ products or services, which can be turned into revenue if the users eventually become long-term customers and loyal brand advocates. Every mobile commerce business would already have a social media presence as seen in the form of social media buttons placed prominently on their mobile sites. These buttons draw visitors to ‘Like’ their social media pages, allowing customers to easily obtain updates on a company’s latest promotions, new products and upcoming events.
There will no doubt be many improvements to the state of mobile commerce in the coming years, as businesses everywhere devise new ways to entice mobile users with their offerings. More importantly, the continuous growth of mobile commerce will generate more opportunities for brands to offer customers a seamless mobile experience.
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