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April 05, 2017

The Rise of M-Commerce and Why It Matters for E-Commerce Stores

By Special Guest
Jack Thomas, Content Writer

Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is on the rise. Smartphones and tablets have always come in handy for on-the-go product research, but shoppers are increasingly depending on their mobile devices to facilitate every step of the buying process. Market research firm eMarketer expected U.S. retail m-commerce sales to jump almost 40 percent between 2015 and 2016 to $123.13 billion. The same source predicts that by 2020 mobile commerce will reach $242.08 billion in U.S. sales.

It seems like a no-brainer that as people incorporate mobile devices into their everyday lives, m-commerce expenditures rise accordingly. However, according to research from Business Insider, U.S. adults spent 59 percent of their screen time on mobile (compared to 41 percent on desktop) in 2015, but only spent 15 percent of their dollars on mobile (compared to 85 percent on desktop). It’s an advantage for e-commerce stores that they can increasingly access customers wherever they are, but only if they optimize their mobile experience to drive conversions.  

Competitive e-commerce stores need to provide a smooth conversion process, from entering the virtual store to checking out and receiving confirmation. Just because the screens are smaller doesn’t mean that users will accept subpar usability. A clunky, confusing or otherwise frustrating mobile shopping experience will prompt shoppers to bail out before completing their cart checkout. All your marketing plans will be out the window if customers follow links to your store and don’t like what they see, or worse, simply can’t figure out how to seal the deal.

Imagine that one of your shirts catches a customer’s eye and pulls them into your store. Since they’re using a smartphone screen, they want to investigate the fabric up close before committing. They instinctually try to zoom in using pinching, tapping and swiping, but your mobile site doesn’t respond. Your potential customer may bounce on the spot because they don’t want to buy the garment without vetting the details. This conundrum is a common usability blocker to closing an m-commerce sale. The Baymard Institute found that 40 percent of mobile e-commerce sites don’t support these familiar image gestures like pinching, tapping and swiping. Touch-to-zoom capabilities and high-resolution photos are an absolute must for any modern online store to capitalize on mobile traffic.

Another sticking point for mobile sales is the “sign in” requirement. Is your store alienating customers by forcing them to make an account before they start shopping? What about once they’re all ready to check out? Very few people want to use their phone keyboards or tablet to input lengthy personal information. At worst, customers will find it a pesky enough distraction from shopping that they’ll leave your online store. According to Inc., conversion rates increase 45 percent when guest checkout is available. It boils down to truly thinking like the customer. The fewer hurdles between mobile shoppers and their end goal, the better for everyone involved.

Mobile commerce means that customers can reach you from wherever they are, but that doesn’t mean your e-commerce store can afford to sit back and wait. Mobile commerce apps with embedded buy options can help stores retain customers and make it easy for them to access their favorite content and products with just a few taps. A Shopify Plus vs. Magento Enterprise comparison reveals that some e-commerce  platforms are better equipped to make the most of mobile responsiveness than others. The ability—or lack thereof—to establish an active mobile store will have far-reaching implications for your brand in the future.

Now is not the time to stick your head in the sand and ignore mobile e-commerce! With all the challenges it brings, it also opens up new frontiers for online businesses to cater to the customer and make their virtual shopping experience unforgettable. As you take the next steps in establishing your e-commerce store, make decisions that set you up for mobile success.

Edited by Alicia Young

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