All over the world, mobile commerce (m-commerce) is an important trend topic. But what is really changing due to the fact that consumers are increasingly using smartphones and other mobile devices for shopping purposes? What do companies need to look out for in order to benefit from the most important growth factor in digital commerce? And what requirements should they meet in order to make shopping on the internet an exciting experience?
For companies today, the question is no longer whether they want to participate in mobile commerce – but rather what is the best way to proceed. With the growing importance of mobile devices, the convenient and fast way of shopping on websites or via shopping apps is becoming increasingly popular. Mobile commerce already accounts for 38 percent of 1.14 trillion euros in global e-commerce revenues. An increasing trend: global m-commerce is expected to further grow by 19 percent over the next four years. This is the conclusion of the Global Payments Report 2018 published by payment service provider Worldpay. In Germany, 56 million citizens are meanwhile shopping online and offline. Although this does not yet indicate a clear breakthrough of mobile commerce – especially when compared to countries like China, where mobile shopping is widespread and mobile e-commerce sales make up more than 70 percent – mobile shopping is certainly gaining importance.
Perfect combination of online presence and retail trade
The rise of mobile commerce offers great opportunities for online trade and stationary retail. Most shoppers already seek information online before they visit the shop. Many of them use their smartphones to compare prices, receive shopping suggestions or for payment purposes. A successful mobile strategy must respond to changing customer demands and not only enable, but stimulate the switch between online and offline points of sale.
But what strategy makes more sense – a mobile website or a shopping app? A glance at Europe shows that retailers that offer a shopping app already generate more than half of their sales literally „on the go“ – around 54 percent of mobile sales are generated via apps. Progressive web apps (PWA), which combine the web experience with the functions of a native app, are causing a turnaround in the e-commerce market. PWAs do not need to be installed on mobile devices and therefore take up very little storage space. This is intended to counteract a phenomenon called „app fatigue“. The latter describes the fact that the majority of consumers only want to download a limited number of apps onto their smartphone. According to IT analysts, half of all mobile apps for consumers will be replaced by progressive web apps by 2020.
Adapt design standards, avoid error messages
Regardless of the sales channel, it is mandatory for retailers to adapt design standards to mobile device technology and guarantee appropriate performance. Mobile shopping offers should be as clear and intuitive as possible to use – and have filter functions that enable targeted product searches. Due to the smaller screen formats, larger fonts, stronger contrasts as well as fewer graphic details and input fields need to be selected. Dealers can also score points with detailed information on product availability, exchange or repair options.
To enable consumers to switch between mobile devices without having to repeat the search, the updating of the shopping cart on all technical devices should also be guaranteed. The basis for a successful shopping experience is generally a customer journey without error messages – otherwise consumers may switch to another supplier. Retailers are well advised to use the technological advances of mobile devices and to be open to innovations such as progressive web apps. It is also important to avoid payment difficulties. For example, as few forms as possible should be requested at the checkout in order to prevent extensive data entry on small displays.
Mobile shoppers seek inspiration
In addition to technical optimization, retailers should focus on enriching the shopping experience. Digital customers want to be inspired and informed – this process of inspiration is enhanced by appealing photos, product details and ratings from other customers. The approach of personalizing web shops or shopping apps is particularly successful. Those who are welcomed to a shop with a product world that they are interested in, stay longer and are more likely to make a purchase. Successful concepts can be found especially in the fashion sector: Based on the shopping history, the European industry giants Zalando and About You, for example, provide new daily shopping tips and special offers, which appear personalized on customer’s displays thanks to big data and artificial intelligence.
Social media as the shopping channel of the future
Social media already plays an important role in the digital strategy. In a German study conducted by the digital association Bitkom, social media is described as the shopping channel of the future. According to this study, 63 percent of the consumers surveyed stated that they have already been made aware of products they later bought through social networks. For some time now, Instagram has been moving into the focus of e-commerce: retailers are placing targeted advertisements on the platform, which is used by more than 1 billion people worldwide. They are increasing their brand awareness with product and image shots. Here, potential customers regularly interact with brands – that shortens the path to a successful purchase.