M-commerce, what it is and what does it mean for small e-tailers?

Posted by on in Case Studies, Mobile

Mobile phones, once a luxury item and a status symbol, have now become an inseparable part of our daily lives with 94% of adults owning a mobile phone in 2013. Today it’s not unusual to find people with more than one phone subscription to their name.

Over the past decade phones have steadily become faster and their processers more potent. This level of advancement has meant that it is much easier to do many of the same things you can do on a desktop or laptop PC on your mobile, such as browsing the internet, playing graphically intensive games and shopping.

To such an extent that the nature of how we consume media and access information today has begun to change, for example the device share of internet access by mobile phone and tablet devices has almost doubled between 2012 and 2013 with mobiles and tablets now accounting for over 20% of internet browsing. This provides us with an indicator as to the direction mobile browsing in headed and its growth.

This presents a new dawn for online retailers as the ecommerce market is expected to grow to over 11% of all retail sales, while sales through mobile browsing is expected to account for 15% of Ecommerce sales within the UK alone. It is this new and growing trend which is referred to as m-commerce.
Current trends in smartphone design are moving towards bigger and higher resolution screens especially with many popular smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 supporting large screens and tablet/phone crossover phones “phablets” boasting screens up to 6.4 inches. Making browsing and viewing products online easier and more detailed than ever before.

What does this mean for small e-tailers

Many ecommerce websites today especially from small e-tailers have not been built with mobile or tablet optimisation in mind, resulting in poor user experience that is not suited for conversions or difficult to navigate, especially if key elements of a website use flash. For example statistics from the US found that 67% of online shoppers were more likely to purchase from a mobile friendly site than a desktop only version when viewing on a mobile device, stats like this are likely to be similar in UK due to the similarity in available mobile devices and mobile infrastructure available within these two countries.

e-tailers need to look at what they can do to maximise their conversions and return on investment from their websites, this may be through exploring what mobile friendly solutions they may be able to introduce into their websites. There are two options which are currently available that can be implemented by ecommerce websites to improve the mobile and tablet user experience:

  • A standalone dedicated Mobile ecommerce website.
  • Responsive design website

Both of these options have their own distinct advantages which may suit certain types of ecommerce sites over others. e-tailers will need to discuss with their developers the pros and cons before making a decision on which mobile compatible platform to utilise.

Although the common advantage which the above two mobile compatible formats offer is increased accessibility allowing retailers to capitalise on the growing range of mobile devices on the market today and potentially in the future.

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