Mobile Commerce, or m-commerce, refers to the new way companies are doing business that is centered around the increasing use of mobile devices like phones, tablets and smartbooks. First developed as SMS-based services in the mid 1990s, m-commerce has shifted toward using applications on the iOS and Android platforms. This trend has also been mirrored by phone makers in the past five years, with major mobile manufacturers like Apple and Samsung integrating electronic payment services into their phones, and many banks now offering mobile banking apps. So in what ways is m-commerce shaking up the way we do business?
How M-commerce’s affects how business is conducted.
One of the key effects m-commerce has seen is the increased focus on app development. M-commerce has also changed the nature of many e-commerce websites. With an increased emphasis by customers on the convenience of mobile platform usage, online retailers like Amazon and eBay have begun to assign more resources to optimizing the mobile experience for customers.
In the case of Amazon, the process for finding associated items and for checking out must be streamlined to shorten the amount of time the user spends waiting for each page to load and reducing the likelihood of users closing the app before a purchase is completed. Once a user closes the application, the likelihood they will end up making the purchase is very remote.
eBay, on the other hand, is maximizing the mobile-friendliness of their website so that users are encouraged to use their mobile devices to access, and more importantly use, eBay’s services. This is achieved in a few key ways: First, adjusting items when setting up web pages so that the important qualities such as the search bar, options bar, and item description are rearranged to better depict and allow access to the most relevant parts of the shopping experience without losing the fundamental appearance and feel of the desktop website. See image below as an example of improved look and feel.
Making m-commerce work for you
While it is useful to understand how e-commerce companies are surviving in the brave new frontier of m-commerce, how do other businesses find success? After all, many companies have websites but remain focused on brick and mortar business. The answer to that question differs based on what is the industry of your company.
Using m-commerce as a company with tangible products
The field of m-commerce offers major ways for businesses that sell tangible products to step up their advertising game by improving customer accessibility. With m-commerce, the legwork and physical presence of staff required when selling products can be reduced and streamlined by adopting some of the new options a mobile platform offers.
If you are an airline, for example, you can succeed by investing in mobile ticketing. With mobile ticketing, your customers use an app on their phones to buy a ticket, receive a boarding pass always include their loyalty number, improving up their overall travel experience, by reducing friction. Meanwhile,airlines need fewer staff and can count on automation to limit access to 1 person per ticket. This means the airline can focus its’ staff on providing superior customer service. Faster ticketing, boarding and better customer service means happy customers, and happy customers means more business.
In poorer parts of the world the access to phones with sms, twitter, whatsapp etc. have provided benefits of ecommerce to all sections of the society. The village women in India routinely use sms messages to sell eggs, vegetables, clothes to the customers. Exchange of pictures of the product, price negotiations, and delivery receipts are all done via sms. This brings to surface a huge amount of cash business that was never tracked by the taxman.
If, on the other hand, you are a brick and mortar retail chain, like Starbucks or Bruegger’s Bagels, you can take advantage of location-based services. Where previously companies sent out offers and promotions that were nationally available, m-commerce allows companies to geofence the customer and send offers and promotions that are specially tailored to be relevant to that user’s interests and location; Adding the geolocation as an element to the segmentation scheme the relevancy of the offer increases thereby improving the chance of conversion. Further, tracking and adding the response to the offer in future campaigns, creates a virtuous cycle of improved customer loyalty and increased revenue predictability.
Using m-commerce as a non-tangible services company
If you are selling SaaS or AaaS products, m-commerce offers more avenues to access your customers. Companies can get in touch with customers through Twitter, email, and advertising. In addition, m-commerce also has one key advantage over normal e-commerce: You know exactly who you are reaching out to. With email blasts, you can’t be certain that your message will be received, and you have no way of knowing whether it’s reaching the right person. It used to be that when a company’s website was accessed via computer, the company had no way of determining if the computer being used was a private laptop, a family computer, or even a publicly-used desktop at an internet cafe. With m-commerce, however, the mobile device is generally used by only a single person and is unlikely to be shared. As a result, there is a better chance that messages sent to mobile devices will be read by the intended recipient.
With a mobile device to use as a key connection point, advertisers can now better pinpoint and appeal to their audiences, and companies can utilize the mobile platform to improve their ability to deliver the products their customers want, when they want it. Regardless of your industry, m-commerce offers great opportunities with surprisingly low costs. In the next blog I will write about the analytics that help marketers convert a lead to a marketing qualified Lead (MQL) to a Sale. The tracking provides a great ability to improve marketing spend effectiveness.