What is mobile commerce?
Mobile Commerce was a term first coined in 1997, and it has come a long way since then with the invention of high tech smartphones. Some people abbreviate the term to m-commerce. In short, m-commerce is the browsing, buying and selling of products and services through mobile devices. With almost everybody glued to a smartphone these days, m-commerce is an industry that’s very important for retailers to tap into.
People want convenience, and nothing could be more convenient than ordering something online and having it delivered to your house. Throughout the years we have seen that m-commerce is a highly effective way of selling. Unlike a brick and mortar store, customers can browse thousands of products- comparing brands, prices and reviews, in just a few minutes and some clicks. M-commerce is specific to mobiles, which are much more portable than a desktop computer and laptop, making purchasing online available almost wherever you are.
Mobile Commerce isn’t perfect
M-commerce comes with its drawbacks. Many people are put off by the fact that lots of websites do not work well on phones. While the site may look great on a desktop computer, often when the size is scaled down to a phone, websites become much harder to use. In some cases, sites are completely broken on mobile devices. No customer is going to be willing to buy from a site where all of the buttons are overlapping and images are scatted randomly throughout the page.
Another drawback to m-commerce is that customers cannot physically see the product before purchasing. This is unlike a brick and mortar store where usually, customers can test items before handing their money over. Often, m-commerce sellers do not provide adequate descriptions of items- leaving customers disappointed. Most of the time customers can be refunded if they return the item- but this means leaving the home and heading to the post office. This eliminates the whole point of ordering online.
Nonetheless, m-commerce is growing and will only continue to grow further. How often do you see somebody without a smartphone? Not very often, right? Some speculate that as the years go by, m-commerce will completely dominate both desktop shopping and brick and mortar stores, simply because of the huge convenience they provide. But if that’s to happen, there needs to be an improvement in the m-commerce world.
Improving Mobile Commerce
To help fight mobile incompatibility on websites, many retailers have begun releasing dedicated mobile-commerce apps. There are apps which have been developed specifically to work on mobile for customers to buy products are services. These apps make use of what touch screens are good at. For example, swipe menus, and larger buttons which are easier to accurately hit with a finger. Not only that, retailers have taken advantage of the fingerprint scanner many phones have, to offer their customers secure payment options. This is really good for building trust with consumers, as many people still have reservations about using their card details online.
As research from Signal-boosters.co.uk shows, m-commerce is only going to continue to grow. In the future, there will be many more developments in the industry to take advantage of the effectiveness of m-commerce. Here are a few things which may be on the horizon for mobile commerce.
The Future of Mobile Commerce
Augmented reality shopping
As mentioned before, one of the huge drawbacks to mobile commerce is the fact that customers cannot truly ‘see before they buy’. Augmented reality is already being used to some extent in the m-commerce world and it will only continue to be developed. One way the AR trend is being used is with glasses shopping. That’s right, spectacles. Many sites that sell glasses allow customers to virtually try on glasses using an image taken on their phone. There are even sites that let you view the glasses on yourself from multiple angles by using a ‘virtual avatar’. In the future, we can expect to see augmented reality headsets, where customers can try on entire outfits from the comfort of their own home- and see how they will look. This will carry on over to plenty of other industries. Consumers will be able to see if their new sofa fits the room or if a new decoration will look nice in their garden. This is not only going to benefit customers but retailers too. Customer reservations about buying online will reduce when they can really see the product they are buying. With more accurate expectations of products using AR- returns will go down, saving retailers money.
Voice search and control
With mobiles having pretty small screens, many people are put off using mobiles to do their online shopping. Often, a desktop is preferred because of the larger screen and pinpoint mouse accuracy. In the future, smarter voice control will be developed. This will allow customers to dictate exactly what they want with their voice- searching for items, choosing their size/style/color, adding to basket and even checkout out all with voice commands. Voice-activated control is already being used in smartphones for the likes of Siri and Bixby- however, in the future, it will be specifically developed for the m-commerce world. This makes the shopping experience even simpler for mobile users, and will only further contribute to the growth of m-commerce.
Unlike a brick and mortar store, customers of m-commerce stores cannot speak to a real-time employee to ask for help, ask questions about the product or seek advice. Some m-commerce retailers are already moving towards using chatbots to answer some customer queries. However, the technology isn’t really there at the minute and they can only answer basic questions. In the future, smart chatbots for m-commerce will be improved to speak to consumers almost as a real person would. There is already promise in the technology as AI chatbots already exist on the internet, so imagine how much they will be improved in 5-20 years.
To take away
Mobile commerce is already one of the most popular ways to buy products and services- with some retailers seeing the majority of their sales coming from m-commerce customers. In the future, you can expect to see some of the developments mentioned in this article to reach the world of m-commerce. By then, mobile commerce will likely be how the whole world does their shopping.