Mobile commerce (AKA m-commerce) is the buying and selling of products on a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet.
This type of commerce can happen both online and in physical stores (with the help of mobile payment solutions), making it even more versatile than traditional electronic commerce.
These shoppers can purchase whatever they want from just about anywhere—the bus, their couch, the baseball game, the bathroom—as easily as texting their moms (she wants to hear from you!).
Just as online commerce has steadily increased its share of the retail pie over the years—with fewer people visiting their nearest brick-and-mortar store in favor of their desktop computer—so too has mobile commerce taken over the world of online shopping.
Because smartphones are full-on handheld computers today, it’s no wonder 5.22 billion people are attached to their devices and making purchases on them.
The sheer number of smartphone owners tells us it’s never been a better time for brands to connect with customers via m-commerce.
Although, it’s crucial to invest in a proper mobile commerce strategy to make the most of this opportunity.
M-commerce vs ecommerce: What’s the difference?
While the two terms sound the same, the core difference is that mobile commerce is when customers specifically buy products using a mobile device.
Brands even create specialized commerce apps to cater to an improved mobile experience.
Ecommerce, on the other hand, refers to online shopping activity more generally—which is traditionally built with a (primarily) desktop experience in mind.
While m-commerce is officially a sub-category of ecommerce, the mobile experience cannot be ignored.
As the world changes and technology evolves, mobile optimized ecommerce experiences will be the standard.
Already, Google judges your site based on its mobile version, so your SEO efforts will be seriously hampered by not delivering for mobile visitors.
What does the future of mobile commerce look like?
But just how powerful is mobile ecommerce compared with traditional ecommerce?
Here are a few eye-opening smartphone growth statistics to note:
Warby Parker’s app allows customers to virtually try-on glasses before ordering. This not only makes for an engaging shopping experience but it helps customers say yes to the perfect pair they know they’ll love.
The app even auto-suggests the frame width based on your face dimensions, which makes this app experience that much more tailored vs. using the same experience on desktop.
#cta-paragraph-fe#With overall use trending lower than other apps—like social media and gaming—and the considerable investment to build, is a dedicated mobile app right for your brand?Progressive web apps (PWAs) are an alternative to native apps that more brands are adopting instead. You get all the benefits of a lightning-fast, app-like shopping experience without having to maintain a mobile app and an ecommerce website.
#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Is your brand ready for a PWA?<cta-title>See how Shogun Frontend can help your brand build a PWA the easy way. Learn more
2. Mobile payment processing
These days, it’s common for consumers to pay with their phones versus a physical credit card. Shoppers with bank accounts linked to a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay can make payments in seconds—a method that skyrocketed in popularity in 2020.
This aspect of mobile commerce has changed how shoppers purchase, and you’ll want to ensure your store is ready to accept these mobile payments.
Popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce allow brands to integrate with digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, but your site will need to meet a series of requirements to do so first.
3. Social commerce
As the third aspect of mobile commerce, leading social media platforms have become a key gateway for mobile purchases.
Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest now include features that make it easier for customers to buy directly within their apps/networks.
For example, Instagram Shopping allows customers to view product information (like price and other details) and purchase all without leaving Instagram.
Consider how your brand might show up in these spaces.
It’s another (super impactful!) customer touchpoint, so figuring out how best to leverage social commerce will benefit your store.
For example, you could start small with Instagram Shops and feature a few of your best-selling products. Or you could go all in and launch a new collection.
Increased conversions from a faster buying experience
To succeed on mobile, site speed is the name of the game. Speed, in this case, refers to both page load time and the number of steps in your buyer journey.
To start, a lightning-fast mobile site directly impacts conversion rates. In fact, 70% of customers report that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from a brand online.
Despite this, the average mobile site takes 15.3 seconds to load, which is way above the recommended 3-4 second load time you should strive to hit.
Moreover, just a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversions by up to 20%!
Site performance is crucial to keep customers on your site, and checking out, so prioritizing load time in a mobile commerce-led strategy will help you convert more.
Your buyer journey contributes to speed on mobile too.
As mentioned, you may have a lightning-fast mobile site, but if your checkout process involves multiple pages or steps, it can deter customers from completing their purchase on mobile.
Take peel-and-stick wood planking brand, Stikwood, for example.
When customers add items to their cart, a side panel opens instantly instead of a separate cart page.
This intentionally allows customers to keep shopping uninterrupted and without having to navigate back to the product page.
Shoppers even have payment options available immediately from the side panel.
#cta-paragraph-fe#As part of your mobile commerce strategy: search for areas of potential friction on your store’s site. Go through on a mobile device, QA-ing and making purchases start to finish to identify opportunities for better interactions.
More instant customer service opportunities
A core part of providing excellent customer service is timeliness.
Shoppers want their questions answered on their schedule. Or you risk losing a sale.
With mobile commerce, brands have the unique opportunity to reach customers directly through SMS and in-app or browser chatbots on a medium made for instant communication.
Despite this, only 24% of customer service teams currently use artificial intelligence to facilitate customer service—a significant opportunity for your brand in the coming year.
And remember: Offering great customer service via mobile isn’t just important for the present moment—it’s key to building stronger customer retention in the long term.
93% of shoppers are likely to be repeat buyers if they had a positive customer experience with a brand.
Higher satisfaction rates for omnichannel customers
A mobile commerce strategy allows brands to connect with customers no matter where they’re shopping (from the couch scrolling or in the drugstore aisle)—also known as omnichannel shopping.
These days it’s more common for customers to spend time on their mobile devices versus a desktop—about five to six hours per day.
Also, note that customers rarely follow a direct path when shopping on mobile. It may take a few brand sightings in the wild from Instagram ads to purchase, for example.
So brands that consider different touchpoints and how best to meet customers where they often find the most success with mobile commerce.
Mistakes to avoid with your mobile commerce strategy
Because you can directly connect with customers through mobile commerce, there’s a fine line between genuine, welcome connection and annoyance.
Here are some things you’ll want to avoid:
Sending spammy SMS messages
Customers actually want to receive texts from their favorite brands. In fact, 52% of customersprefer SMS messages about marketing and promotions instead of email and phone calls.
But if you’ve ever gotten a text message from a brand that read more like junk mail or got a message without having signed up for it, you know this is a fine line to tow.
It’s best to err on the side of simplicity. Take this message from Pottery Barn, for example:
This text message gets several things right:
Pottery Barn is identified, so customers know who’s sending the message
It’s short and to the point, but on-brand
Pottery Barn provided a CTA (shop all deals) so customers know exactly what to do/can imagine where they’ll end up if they click the link.
The message is only going to those who’ve opted-in to the brand’s SMS messaging list.
It considers features that enhance the shopping experience—like fewer pages to checkout or a differentiated UX (consider removing those popups and interstitials on mobile to start!).
Panic-building a mobile app
There’s no question people spend time on mobile apps. But does that mean your brand should build one?
With only 29% of customers likely to download a dedicated app to communicate with brands, it’s crucial to consider whether it’s worth the investment.
Think about who would download your app (like repeat customers vs. first-timers) and what added benefits or features they’d get versus your mobile site.
As mentioned, you may get the benefits of a mobile app experience with a headless progressive web app, and this accounts for your entire site as a bonus.
#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>PWAs are changing ecommerce for good.<cta-title>Learn why scaling brands are choosing PWAs instead of building dedicated mobile apps. See more
5 Mobile commerce examples from top ecommerce brands
We love seeing how brands consider mobile commerce best practices to build exceptional shopping experiences.
These sites make shopping on your phone or tablet just as easy (or even easier) than on a desktop!
Here are a few Shogun favorites. Check out the design choices they each make that take the experience to new heights on a mobile device.
Glossier – Example of m-commerce enhancing the shopping experience
Glossier is a skincare and makeup brand that quickly made its mark on the beauty world. And their mobile commerce experience is no exception.
Glossier’s site behaves like a native app—from responsive product carousels, a pop-out cart window with easy-to-add free product samples, and tons of rich media.
Take a page from Glossier:
Add UX elements that make your mobile experience feel more like a native app (e.g., horizontal scrolling or pop-out cart windows)
Ensure your site maintains fast load times (aim for 2-3 seconds or fewer!)
Call out best-selling products, new arrivals, or curated collections on the home page
Nomad – Example of headless m-commerce for rich merchandising
Nomad is a luxury lifestyle goods and accessories brand making shopping for phone cases and battery charging stations dynamic and, well, cool.
Nomad’s pages are as dynamic as their products.
They highlight each product’s unique features and properties with video, HD closeups, and product toggles to keep things engaging.
#cta-paragraph-fe#Learn more about Nomad’s success with their Shogun-powered frontend
Nomad makes shopping for everyday lifestyle accessories both interesting and engaging.
Take a page from Nomad:
Add background video or subtle animations to keep eyes on your site
Add product features like toggles to offer more detail
Add high-resolution visuals throughout to highlight product and brand quality
Omsom – Colorful example of m-commerce for customer education
Omsom is a venture-backed CPG brand bringing proud, loud Asian flavors into households across the US.
Not only is their mobile site fast, but it’s easy to explore their bold, flavor-packed products.
From stop motion videos and colorful, on-brand imagery to recommended recipe pairings, Omsom.com is not only exceptional but fun to explore.
Plus, for customers who aren’t sure where to start, Omsom offers a helpful chatbot feature with a recording from one of the founders.
In a “choose-your-own-adventure” style, customers can find their perfect flavor or learn about the company’s deep Asian roots.
Omsom is an excellent example of how brands can let their voice shine through on a mobile layout without complicating the shopping experience.
Take a page from Omsom:
Include vibrant brand imagery and stop-motion animation to keep customers engaged
Add features that help customers learn about your products (e.g., Omsom’s chatbot feature and built-out recipe page)
Showcase your UGC on your site to serve as both verification and inspiration
The Feed – Headless m-commerce example delivers on speed
The Feed is a nutrition and wellness marketplace with the goal of making the best products available to athletes of all kinds.
The Feed’s shift to headless commerce allowed the brand to offer a fast, app-like shopping experience with PWA technology underlying the Shogun-powered site.
Being a marketplace, The Feed aims to feature the best products their team of athletes recommends.
The site is intentionally designed to highlight different brands’ products. Customers can shop featured brands (highlighted at the top of the home page) or skip to a category like hydration, sleep, and breakfast.
It’s a great example of using design to help customers find what they’re looking for and discover new products.
Take a page from The Feed:
Highlight new products without overloading customers with a simple grid-like home page and cohesive imagery
Help customers discover products with simple mobile navigation
Allbirds – Example of m-commerce for easy navigation
AllBirds is a global footwear and apparel brand for adults and kids alike.
What makes this mobile site so unique? Allbirds offers a dynamic mobile shopping experience with rich media, easy-to-browse product collections, and more.
Whether you know exactly what kind of shoe you want or if you’re in the market for something else, this lightning-fast mobile commerce experience is equal parts engaging and simple.
Take a page from AllBirds:
Categorize products by activity (like running or everyday wear) for easy discovery
Show how your products are made with stop-motion background video
Allow customers to toggle between product colors without having to leave a collection page for simplified shopping
Mobile commerce should bring value, not noise, to your shopping experience
Overall, remember, an exceptional mobile commerce experience goes beyond formatting a website for smaller screens.
It’s all about simplifying the shopping experience while keeping it engaging.
To do this, your brand may not need a dedicated mobile app. Instead, creating a web experience that runs as fast as a mobile app could be just the solution for your brand.
#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Elevate your ecommerce experience<cta-title>Learn about how you can turn your site into a sub-second progressive web app with Shogun Frontend.Learn more