Does my online shop have to be suitable for mobile commerce or m-commerce?

For many years we have been hearing about the so-called mobile commerce, or m-commerce, and this trend is a reality for many e-commerce players. The latest figures on e-commerce show that the share of mobile sales has reached over 60%, i.e. more than one in two francs (source: Statista) is spent via the screen of a smartphone or tablet. The question about the mobile suitability of your sales channel is strongly related to your SEO strategy – and vice versa. An explanation: SEO and a mobile-friendly online shop.

When we carry out an e-commerce project, everyone advises us to opt for a shop system / design adapted to the mobile phone without understanding the reasons for this. Let us together decipher from which point of view the mobile phone will affect your business.

Why your e-commerce activities necessarily depend on the mobile phone

The number of mobile Internet users worldwide is growing every year. In simple terms, Internet visitors use their smartphone most often to access the Internet. This means that the Internet audience tends to switch to the mobile phone in terms of market share. This shows that the mobile channel is the most dynamic and promising medium in the long term. Moreover, studies on mobile phones show that 75% of Europeans will be using the mobile Internet in 2019 and that smartphones will be the first medium to access email after the computer.

M-Commerce Statistics

The historical dominators of online sales (Zalando, Amazon and in Switzerland e.g. digitec …), but also newcomers have understood these challenges by developing mobile platforms or applications that facilitate the purchase of products on this channel. According to the latest figures, these players generate more than half of their sales through their mobile application.

The mobile screen issue

However, the screen of a mobile phone, and more generally the behaviour of mobile phone users, has many limitations compared to traditional e-commerce (on the computer / desktop):

  • The size of the screen limits the amount of information that can be displayed and causes discomfort if a page is not suitable for mobile use,
  • the use of touch does not make it easy to enter long or poorly designed forms,
  • Charging time in mobile situations (4G) can be frustrating for the consumer.
  • Consumers feel more insecure about disclosing their bank details than they do about disclosing them on the computer.

For these reasons, you should not simply want to have a website that fits on any screen size, but to meet the needs of your target audience in the best possible way. You do this by analyzing the customer journey to gain the best possible understanding of user behavior.

Many entrepreneurs have gone even further by adopting a 100% mobile first approach.

What does “mobile first” mean in e-commerce?

Mobile first is a concept where the approach is to design your entire digital strategy around mobile as if you were ultimately focusing on that one channel. This process involves developing a mobile application, designing a 100% mobile e-commerce site, etc. Indirectly, e-commerce managers can push the desktop channel (e-commerce on the computer) aside with the essentials or even simply ignore it by not offering a platform for buying via the computer. This will force your customers to switch to their mobile phones to place an order.

But be careful, because depending on the area of activity, the exclusive “mobile first” approach is not necessarily appropriate: even if companies in the B2B sector, for example, are making more and more purchases via mobile phones, especially professional tablets, the computer is still a key tool for taking orders.

On the other hand, the mobile first approach can be logical when it comes to addressing “millenial” consumers with a price-aggressive BtoC product offering, because the sales cycle is quite fast and works in no time at all: The example of the success of the Wish application, which ranks 10th in the top e-commerce category and sells thousands of items made in China at aggressive prices, is proof of this.

Is Mobile Commerce or M-Commerce relevant in my industry (B2B)?

The mistake many entrepreneurs make is to believe that the sole purpose of the mobile phone is to provide an additional sales channel. In other words, if they do not sell their product category mobile, then this channel is not suitable for them. This is the wrong approach. You can understand this with a simple example, namely the e-tourism sector. Let’s take the example of an online tour operator that offers top-quality safari holidays in Kenya, with prices per stay of several thousand CHF. Even if this can be done, it is obvious that the majority of consumers will not book a CHF 10 000 safari with a few clicks via mobile phones.

The latter will first consult many sites to prepare for their stay, to get information before surfing further. It is important to note that, with regard to tourism on the Internet, the average time between the first searches, which are increasingly carried out on smartphones or tablets, and the final reservation is around 20 days. It is therefore essential to offer a website adapted to the mobile phone, as the customer’s journey can begin on this channel and it would be a pity to deprive this mobile audience of this information. It remains to be seen which is the best digital strategy to accompany the potential customer throughout their customer journey.

Which choice should you make: a mobile website, an application or an attractively designed e-commerce website?

When it comes to mobile commerce or m-commerce, there are several approaches. We will highlight the strengths of each approach.

The Responsive Design Site

It adapts automatically to all screens. It does not necessarily provide the best user experience.
Responsive design consists of designing the interface of a website so that each page of the website automatically adapts to the size and resolution of the screen from which it is viewed. Specifically, the website will identify the technical characteristics of the device used by the Internet user in order to adapt to the screen of the tablet, smartphone or computer. More precisely, the website will take up space on the screen, regardless of the type of device.

Most websites designed today, especially in e-commerce, integrate native Responsive designs. For example, if you choose an e-commerce CMS (Prestashop, Woocommerce, Magento…), most of the proposed templates are developed in Responsive Design. However, it is important to keep in mind that an e-commerce site with an appealing design is not necessarily the perfect answer to the challenges of mobile phones: if the forms on your site are long or difficult to fill out on your mobile phone, the simple fact that the site automatically shrinks will not be enough to convince the user to buy. It may be necessary to adapt certain stages of e-commerce or to decide to design a website for mobile commerce.

The mobile e-commerce site

You have probably already noticed that some providers have a different website when you look at it on your mobile phone. This is because a web script recognizes the medium used. The script automatically redirects the user to the website. For example, Facebook shows the URL www.facebook.com for access through computer or m.facebook.com for mobile visits.
Why create a website for mobile phones when all you have to do is make your website appealing? The answer is to optimize the user experience on mobile phones. Designing a mobile website allows you to develop a customized platform that takes into account the specifics of mobile phones:

  • the size of the screen,
  • Connection speed and loading time,
  • the complexity of the forms to be filled in for registration
  • mobile functionalities, e.g. with the help of geolocation,
  • mobile optimizations, such as the ability to use the camera on your smartphone
  • and so on

The mobile e-commerce application

It can be worthwhile to decide to create a mobile commerce or m-commerce application. With that you get exclusive access to Apple Store (iOs), Google Play Store (Android), Windows Store, etc.
But what are the main interests in developing a mobile application if you already have a Responsive e-commerce website? Several arguments can justify this:

  • to be present at a global audience hub,
  • Let your e-commerce shop be constantly present on the smartphone / tablet of your customers,
  • offer an optimised mobile shopping experience (taking into account the limitations of the mobile phone: loading time, etc.),
  • Contact your customers via push notifications and generally create a strong connection to your customers.

The right e-commerce solution for me?

In short, mobile commerce is a real opportunity for all players in electronic commerce. It’s important to ask the right questions before embarking on an adventure head over heels. There are different approaches to mobile commerce, depending on the field of activity it is aimed at. To do this, we recommend analysing the typical paths of your customer target group to answer the following question:

  • Do they use the mobile phone for information, for buying or for both? If both intentions are present, which is the primary or even decisive factor in generating sales?
  • Conduct a market research study or a panel survey or gather information from existing studies about your industry sector.
  • Benchmark the competition and determine which mobile channel is preferred by the leaders in your industry. This allows you to choose a relevant approach to satisfy customer demand.

Are you looking for individual advice on mobile commerce or m-commerce? Please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.