Intro to Mobile Commerce

November 1, 2013 | Posted in Mobile Commerce | By

What is mCommerce?

Before we dig into what exactly Mobile Commerce truly means, did you know that more tablets sell today than either desktop or laptop computers?  And between Android or iOS smartphones, it is hard to find someone that does not have one of these devices nowadays.  These mobile devices provide the ultimate freedom for consumers who can now be connected virtually anywhere via cell phone service or widely available Wi-Fi.  It is even more common than not for airplanes to provide internet service so that people can stay connected even when cruising around the world at 35,000 feet in the air. The convenience of having a small, light device capable of doing what many people normally used to do on a day-to-day basis, using their laptop or desktop computer, means that more and more people are deciding that they really don’t need those machines anymore.

I admit that I still use all of the above.  I am typing this article on my desktop PC that I use for the serious computing that I sometimes need, while my personal laptop is on my desk to the left of me and a “work” laptop is on my desk to the right of me.  My Galaxy S4 phone is charging on my desk within arms reach right now, sitting on top of my Nexus 10 tablet that is charging as well. My iPod Touch is plugged into my desktop PC, charging and syncing any podcasts that I subscribe to as they come online.  Yes, that is six different devices, all within three feet of me, all of which can do the exact same things (for the most part) but with different features and benefits.

But when I leave my desk for the day, to go grab dinner or help the kids with their homework, or to go mow the lawn, or to sit on the couch and watch an episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix, I always grab at least one of those devices to take with me, and sometimes more than one.  The ones that I never grab, obviously, are the desktop or laptop computers. It is usually my cell phone or my tablet, but I have them with me in case I have the urge to look something up, or send someone a text or an email (notice I didn’t say call), or if a thought occurs to me, to purchase something.

So many times I will remember that I need to buy something at a time other than while I am sitting at my desk computer.  Many of those times, I will go to Amazon or another appropriate ecommerce site and simply place the order right then when I am thinking of it.  Then, it arrives a couple of days later and I remember that I needed that items for whatever reason and take care of the task that I was thinking about when I placed the order.

If I don’t place the order at that very moment, or at least write it down drop it into Evernote (“write”… who does that anymore?), then inevitably a week or two later I will come across the same task and remember that I still need to get that one thing to help complete whatever it was I was trying to do. But if I order it right then, it has a much better chance of actually getting done.

This could also be if I see something on a TV commercial that I want, and do a quick price check on my tablet to find the best deal on the item, browse for comparable items, and maybe purchase that item right then while it is fresh in my head.  Or if we’re in the car and my wife is driving (Ed note: NEVER drive and shop, that’s sadly a danger indicative of the times we live in) and we drive by a place that triggers a memory of something I’ve been meaning to look up and order, I do it right there from the car.

I have seen reports that over $25 BILLION of sales will be made in 2013 alone, all online, all by using a device other than a desktop or laptop computer.  TWENTY FIVE BILLION DOLLARS in mobile revenue – and growing.

One in four ecommerce transactions are currently being made using a device such as a tablet or cell phone.  And this number also will continue to grow.

Think it is important to get a piece of that action?  If you have a great revenue generating ecommerce site, but the mobile version of the site is a bad user experience, you are likely losing AT LEAST 25% of your possible revenue just because you are neglecting your fastest growing customer segment.  That is a lot to throw away.  Of course, if you’re general ecommerce site provides a bad user experience, then you should not even think about mobile until you fix your ecommerce site!  That is one thing I hear from so many businesses today that want to jump on the hot mobile trend while their ecommerce site is a complete mess.  Don’t chase that 25% when your 75% is a mess. Get your 75% in order first, then worry about the mobile stuff.

If you have a great revenue generating ecommerce site, but the mobile version of the site provides a bad user experience, you are likely losing AT LEAST 25% of your possible revenue just because you are neglecting your fastest growing customer segment.

So how do you get the mCommerce aspect of your business in order?  Do you need an app?  Redesigned website? Responsive design? Google Glass? (no, not that one… nobody needs Google Glass).  The answer is:  whatever you can do to provide customers with a quality user experience that does not impede their ability to purchase from you.

My one simple rule of thumb is: Don’t make it difficult for people to give you their money.

That is the first and single most important rule in eCommerce.  And it goes for mobile commerce as well.  At a minimum, a responsive redesign of your current ecommerce site is often the most simple and efficient / inexpensive way to allow customers to find what they want on your site, and transact with you.   Many people, however, believe that apps are the future and will be the death of the internet.  That is most certainly not the case, but there is indeed a huge market for those that can create a shopping app that meets consumers’ needs while giving them a quality user experience and the ability to easily transact with you.  Building a native app is a bit more challenging and time/cost intensive.  But it can also be well worth it to do so.

For example, when I am sitting on my couch, I know that the Amazon app is only one touch away and lives right on my home screen. No browser needed, no typing a URL on a small screen keypad… just touch the icon and shop away.  There is something to be said for that.  But if the item I want is a bit unique, or I find that a big box store is not necessarily the best option in that case, then I will find a site with a nice easy to read, responsive design that allows me to browse their site and shop without a dozen errors and layout troubles.  And if I have those troubles on the site, and you are making it difficult for me to give you my money, I can pretty much promise that I won’t.  But someone else who makes it easy for me to give them my money will most likely get it instead.

So there is an opportunity in mCommerce, and it is not too late to get into the game, nor for being an innovator and leader in the space.  But you have to have a plan to do it right and follow your plan to implement it that way.  Because after all, if you aren’t going to do it right, don’t bother doing it at all.  Don’t make it difficult for me to give you my money.


Thanks for reading…

Joe Rozsa