Mobile Commerce: What is M-Commerce & Why Is It Important (+ Examples)

August 18, 2022

61d88382a968088a75093084 Mobile Commerce Why M Commerce is Here to Stay and How to Win mobile commerce

Thanks to skyrocketing smartphone use, the mobile commerce landscape—also known as m-commerce—is ripe with opportunities for brands hungry to grow revenue.

But what’s the big deal with mobile commerce’s popularity?

How are mobile websites different from regular ecommerce stores, exactly? What effect does a focus on mobile commerce have on conversion rates?

Finally, where should you start?

In this post, we’ll cover quite a bit about this aspect of ecommerce and how you can best take advantage as a scaling brand, including:

Let’s jump in!

What is mobile commerce?

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.

Mobile 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:

It’s safe to say mobile commerce will continue to be a primary channel for brands to connect to their customers with and optimize for.

But how should your brand approach it? Let’s look at how you can leverage mobile commerce as you scale.

3 Types of mobile commerce to consider for your brand

There are a few aspects of m-commerce you’re going to want to keep on the radar as you consider how your brand is prepared for mobile traffic. Namely:

1. Dedicated native/mobile apps

For a while now, brands have turned to dedicated mobile apps to make purchasing easier and keep their brand top-of-mind.

In fact, 66% of respondents polled by Statista have a brand-specific shopping app on their phones.

But, it’s not enough to build an app. Dedicated mobile apps must differ from (read: be better than) your desktop experience for shoppers to really see value.

Here’s why:

  • Google found that 51% of smartphone users are more likely to use a branded mobile app over a mobile site if they can get rewards or points.
  • What’s more, 39% of customers are likely to purchase through a brand’s mobile app if it’s an easier or faster checkout experience.

So, suppose you’re considering investing in a dedicated mobile app (something like Sephora or IKEA’s native mobile apps).

In that case, you’ll want to consider how this experience will differ intentionally from your mobile site (e.g., a reward system exclusive to the app or a blazing-fast checkout process).

Eyewear brand Warby Parker is a pro at this:

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.

Warby Parker's mobile app virtual try-on feature
Source: Warby Parker

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-visual-pb#<cta-title>Build an ecommerce store optimized for mobile<cta-title>Try Shogun for free and start building out your perfect store to create a totally unique customer experience.Start building for free

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.

Mobile commerce

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.

In fact, there were 92.3 million and 101.2 million mobile payment users in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

And it’s estimated that mobile wallets account for 44.5% of global online transactions.

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.

The Instagram Shops feature in Instagram
Source: Instagram

Instagram Shopping posts receive 130 million clicks every month. Which can amount to a lot of potential eyes on your products!

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.


Adding products to a cart on


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-pb#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 customers prefer 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:

A promotional SMS message from Pottery Barn
Source: SMS Archives

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.

Being mobile-friendly, not mobile-optimized

Optimizing a site for mobile goes beyond formatting the desktop experience for a smartphone or tablet-sized screen.

To be truly mobile-optimized, consider what functionality you need to make the experience feel as native to your customer’s device as possible, in addition to a responsive site.

For example, while Costco’s mobile site is usable, it’s packed with product banners and ads, which make it clunky to navigate.


Scrolling the homepage on
Source: Costco

It’s the desktop experience shrunken for a mobile screen.

But nobody wants to be trying to tap the X on a popup with their thumbs on a smartphone, so it’s imperative brands do better.

An elevated mobile commerce experience goes beyond being mobile-friendly.

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.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Build a mobile-optimized ecommerce store<cta-title>Try Shogun for free and start building out your perfect store to create a totally unique customer experience.Start building for free

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.

Scrolling the mobile commerce home page on
Source: Glossier

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.

Product toggle on
Source: Nomad

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, is not only exceptional but fun to explore.

Scrolling the mobile home page of
Source: Omsom

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.

Scrolling home page
Source: The Feed

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.

Scrolling the mobile site
Source: Allbirds

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-pb#<cta-title>Build a mobile-optimized ecommerce store<cta-title>Try Shogun for free and start building out your perfect store to create a totally unique customer experience.Start building for free

Kaitlyn Ambrose

Kaitlyn works on all things content at Shogun. ⚡

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