Today’s world is far from what it used to be. Ten—or even five—years ago, the internet and smartphones were really just beginning to integrate themselves into our daily lives. That seems like a crazy statement, considering how much we rely on technology every second of every day, but it’s true! During the Internet Revolution, consumers have figured out how to shop smarter, increase efficiency, get better deals, and realize optimal interactions with their preferred vendors. Now that we’ve reached a point in which phones can do everything we used to do on computers—anytime and anywhere—companies are wise to consider the possibilities m-commerce can deliver to their bottom lines.
Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices for all their needs. In fact, Smart Insights reports desktop and mobile users converged in 2014, at which time, approximately 1.7 million shoppers used both methods for their shopping and information needs. Since then, the mobile economy has emerged as the premier purchase point. So, what does this mean?
What Exactly is E-Commerce?
E-commerce (electronic commerce) actually started back in the 1970s, long before Google found its way into the everyday universe. It’s founded on the idea that people search for goods and services online, mostly by way of their desktop computers. For the past decade or so, e-commerce has been the quintessential channel for buying and selling goods, but in recent years, m-commerce has infiltrated this market, offering people easier ways to browse and buy.
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What Exactly is M-Commerce?
M-commerce, or mobile commerce, utilizes smartphones and consumers’ innate need to have every bit of information at their fingertips. Although m-commerce can really be traced back to the 1990s, it’s not until recently that this method of shopping went from a luxury to a necessity. Unlike e-commerce, m-commerce doesn’t rely on accessibility of the internet; it simply uses consumers’ mobile data when WiFi isn’t available. It utilizes smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches. This means people are able to seek information on their commutes, while they’re waiting in line at the grocery store, or on the sidelines of their kids’ after school activities. According to E-Commerce Nation, “Mobile transactions now constitute about 35% of all transactions made in the e-commerce world.”
The possibilities are endless—but only for businesses that optimize every opportunity to make transactions as easy as possible for their audiences.
Increasing Efficiency for E- and M-Commerce Businesses.
As has always been the case, great business models are all about efficiency. In the world of online marketplaces, “efficiency” can mean very different things for e-commerce and m-commerce e-tailers. M-commerce optimization varies by industry, consumer, and product. Before you can optimize efficiency, you have to know where your bottlenecks are.
For the most part, the best way an e-commerce business can enhance its efficiency is to capitalize on the opportunities presented by m-commerce. In today’s world, it’s not about one or the other; it’s about optimizing both options so your consumers can access you on their time and at their own convenience.
Optimizing Online Commerce.
Data is the most important weapon in your marketing arsenal. It allows you to understand who your users are and how they found you. It’s all about three key elements: identity, position, and time. Once you understand what comprises these components, you can work to enhance users’ experiences, whether you’re an e-commerce, m-commerce, or multi-platform business.
Enable Sign-Up Forms & Easy Account Creation.
People are busy. They need to be able to click a few buttons and move on to the next task at hand. Sign-up forms and online accounts make it easy for your customers to find and purchase what they need without spending extra time filling in redundant information. Be mindful that some people simply don’t want you to store their information, however, so it’s important to make an alternative route as easy as an auto-fill for consumers who are sensitive about this situation.
- Quick, efficient shopping.
- Painless user experience.
- Poor form functioning facilitates frustration. Avoid this by constantly testing and maintaining your online user forms.
- Complex forms deter potential customers. This will be cured by constant testing, as well.
- Greedy companies that want to grab too much data will send shoppers in another direction. Keep it simple, and only ask for information imperative to the purchase. Your consumers will appreciate your take on privacy.
Optimize Shopping Cart Options.
A shopping cart should flow fluidly from desktop to mobile device and vice versa. Consider a consumer who thinks he or she has found the Golden Ticket while waiting for the train to work but wants to fully research the item upon arrival to the office. If that item doesn’t exist in the shopping cart when that customer logs into his or her computer, that person is going to start the search over and may not return to your site.
- You keep the attention of your consumer and make it easy to continue transactions.
- You’re afforded the ability of time and intent of purchase, even if your customer loses interest.
- Many companies neglect to include all costs (including delivery fees and times), which can leave you open for negative reviews. Avoid this by creating clear, concise breakdowns of all charges delivery expectations up front, before buyers make their purchases.
- Users are often skeptical of safety measures put in place by online retailers. Reassure them of your commitment to security by obtaining an SSL certificate and leaving a note about the value you place on their personal information.
Enhance Internal Search Functions.
If you want your e- or m-commerce stores to be successful, it’s essential that your customers be able to browse your inventory easily.
- People are used to efficient searching; the more mainstream you make this functionality, the better received your site will be.
- Algorithms allow you to offer items people may not have thought of.
- Many sites require users to understand programming jargon. Steer clear of this by allowing people to type an assortment of words and phrases during their searches.
- Dead-end searches will make searches run away. Instead, offer up similar options they might be looking for to keep them engaged.
When it comes down to it, e-commerce and m-commerce aren’t competitors; they’re simply two elements of a successful business execution. To make the most of your marketing efforts, your best bet is to optimize both components, ensuring you capture your audience’s attention at every angle of the sales funnel.