If electronic-commerce “E-commerce” revolutionized the way we shopped, mobile-commerce or “M-commerce” is taking things up a notch. Make it a HUGE notch ! Electronic commerce changed the retail landscape enabling shops to carry a considerably larger amount of virtual inventory and varied selections as well as truly bringing down global barriers and, at times, doing away with brick and mortar overhead.
“E-commerce” introduced us to beautiful web-sites where we could easily read detailed product specifications, detailed background information about the company, the team, appreciate product from several angles and play with colour options or packages. I’m guilty as charged of spending considerable time daydreaming – ahem- “researching” the difference between pearl white and winter white on my car’s exterior and interior colour combinations.
In the last few years web-sites became quite elaborate with much more affordable and user friendly ways to create them, with template based applications like word-press and most recently Wix. It is amazing how just about anybody could create their own website and be in business overnight.
With the introduction of tablets and smart phones, it has all been a game changer. The internet is now accessed by mobile devices more often than by desktop computers or laptops making traditional websites clunky and awkward. Even responsive templates do not always translate the functionality and ease of navigation of a regular site into a mobile device.
The development of custom apps and mobile sites is the key to a true competitive advantage. It allows businesses to reach consumers even faster when compared to e-commerce, as a person who may not always have a computer with them, will always have their cell phone on hand. Promotional text messages, twitter and social media are a perfect example of mobile commerce. Another popular example is the ease of downloading movie tickets and airline tickets on the phone. With the constant upgrade in cellular technology, more and more possibilities are continuously becoming available to consumers.
Compared to M-commerce, E-commerce is clearly more limited as it requires the use of a computer and internet connection, while mobile technology works on satellites. Businesses now have also begun to migrate to tablet platforms for their mobile workforce instead of more expensive, heavier and larger laptops. M-commerce though is more demanding of proper data packages and internet hot spots.
With social media now fully recognized as a vital business strategy, mobile commerce links your brand, marketing message, speed and 24/7 accessibility in one tight bundle. The consumer trends of M-commerce vary slightly from those of E-commerce, so making sure both platforms are up to date and relevant is a must. For example M-commerce spikes on weekends and evenings when people are on the go and have their mobile devices on hand.
These days’ brands and retailers are constantly rolling out mobile applications to keep up with tech-savvy consumers. However, only a select few have really stepped up their game and incorporated the key features needed to encourage users coming back. In the past few months, many marketers have rolled out mobile apps for a variety of platforms including iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
Important differences to consider between M-commerce and E-commerce:
Commerce on the mobile Web differs with commerce on the PC Web in numerous ways.
- Limitation of the Mobile Devices: the smaller screen, the touch-based interface (with smartphones), the lack of keyboard on most models makes filling out those lengthy forms that plague e-commerce sites – registration, delivery address, credit card details etc. – a very painful experience.
- Cookies: most PC-commerce sites won’t work without cookies. PC sites place cookies on visitor’s PCs so they can recognize them when they move to the next page or return to the site. Most mobile phones don’t allow cookies.
- Context: Where a PC user is (usually) at home or work on a fixed Internet connection, the mobile user could be out-and-about, on transport, often on a mobile network connection (which aren’t as reliable as fixed Internet connections) or on a less secure public Wi-Fi or hotspot. This means m-commerce needs to find ways to be as fast and efficient (with as few clicks and forms) and secure as possible.
- Payment scenarios: while PCs are usually restricted to remote purchases on the Internet, mobile payments can be Web-based or in person. M-commerce includes paying for goods in-store, paying for transport or event ticketing, or paying for goods from vending machines – perhaps using near-field communications (NFC), mobile barcode-based systems, or SMS-based payment.
Mobile apps and mobile sites are a great way for marketers to drive sales for their products and create an ongoing relationship with consumers and are a lot more affordable than most people realize.