The term “mobile commerce” was first coined back in 1997. It’s come a long way thanks to the invention of smartphones, and the prevalent use of these handy devices. According to research from mobile signal boosters, we have now reached the point where people spend more time browsing the web on their phone (87 hours a month on average) than computers (34 hours per month on average). Mobile commerce, also called m-commerce, is essentially buying and selling products and services through a mobile device.
Consumers demand convenience, and there’s nothing more convenient than ordering something and then getting it delivered right to your door. Mobile commerce has proven itself to be a trusted, reliable, and effective way of selling. Unlike standard stores, customers can look through thousands of products and compare brand and prices in a matter of minutes. Mobile phones are more portable than computers and laptops, making purchasing through a mobile even more convenient than standard e-commerce.
There’s Still Room for Improvement
As convenient as mobile commerce is, it isn’t perfect. Lots of people are put off by the fact some websites don’t display well on mobile phones. They work great on desktop, but don’t adjust to the smaller screen. Some websites are just completely broken on mobile devices. If you want to reach the 62% of people who use their phones to make purchases, then you need to make sure that your website works well on mobile.
Another big drawback of using mobile commerce is that customers aren’t able to see products before purchasing them. With brick and mortar stores, customers are able to see and handle items before paying for them. Sometimes mobile commerce sellers fail to provide proper descriptions of the products, putting customers off. Customers can almost always get a refund if they are disappointed with products, but having to go to the post office and go through all the effort undermines the convenience of m-commerce.
With all that said, mobile commerce is only going to keep growing. Mobile commerce hit $700 billion in 2017, an increase of over 300% across four years. That number is only going to grow as technology improves. There are still many ways that m-commerce can improve to help with this transition and encourage users to make the jump.
Improving Mobile Commerce
One of the best ways to improve mobile commerce is to make sure that a store has a dedicated mobile website or app. There are apps specifically made for working on mobile so customers can buy goods and services. These apps take advantage of touch screens with things like large buttons and swipe menus. Retailers can also use advancements in mobile technology, such as fingerprint scanners, to increase security for their customers and build trust.
The Future of Mobile Commerce
- Augmented Reality Shopping
We mentioned before that not being able to see a product before buying it was a major drawback of using m-commerce. Augmented reality is the answer to this problem, and it’s already being adopted by sections of the mobile commerce world. One way that augmented reality has helped with m-commerce is through shopping for glasses. Many websites that sell spectacles allow their customers to “try” them using images on their phones. There are many websites that now allow users to look at glasses and view themselves wearing them from several angles with a virtual avatar. We can expect to see augmented reality headsets in the future, which will allow customers to try on clothes remotely to see how they look. This has the potential to reach other industries too, such as by allowing customers to see how decorations and furniture might look before they buy them. These benefits are going to help retailers as well. The reservations people have towards making online purchases goes away when they are able to see products before buying them. Augmented reality gives people more accurate expectations of a product; increasing sales, reducing returns, and saving vendors money.
- Voice Search and Control
As mobile devices have small screens, some people are put off of using them for shopping. They prefer using desktops because they have bigger screens and a mouse is more accurate than a finger tap. The future will see an improvement in voice search and control. This would allow customers to say just what they want with their voice, whether searching for items, choosing a style or size, adding something to their basket, and checking out. Voice-activated controls are already present in mobile phones through Siri, Bixby, and Google Assistant. However, the future will see the development of voice commands specifically designed and developed for mobile commerce. This should simplify the commerce process for mobile users, adding to the growth of mobile commerce.
- Smarter Chat Bots
Customers at most m-commerce stores don’t have the option of speaking to an employee in real time to get help, ask questions about their chosen product, and get advice. Some m-commerce retailers are already turning to chat bots to offer this advice. The problem is that the technology isn’t properly advanced enough and so chat bots are only capable of handling basic questions. The technology behind chat bots will advance in the future, allowing them to talk to customers like a real person. There’s already a lot of promise in AI chat bots as they already exist online. Imagine what the technology will be like in a decade or two.
Mobile commerce is already one of the most popular methods for buying products and services. Some retailers have started seeing the majority of their sales come from mobile commerce shoppers. We expect that the future will see developments, such as the ones discussed above, that will make m-commerce the most popular choice for shopping in the world.