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A Survival guide to mobile commerce

February 19, 2015

The term mobile commerce is another digital marketing phrase which often gets thrown around. For many small businesses, it can certainly be difficult to understand the technologies and the benefits which m-commerce can bring to your company.

In this guide, we look at the basics of going mobile, how it can be profitable for your start-up or small business, and include some tips on what you need to look out for when taking your business into the world of mobile commerce.

What is m-commerce?

Put simply, mobile commerce is any kind of e-commerce opportunity on a mobile device. This could be either a smartphone or a tablet.

It’s a convenient way for your customers to interact with your business on the go. And it’s the ability to search, browse and buy products or services from your hand.

M-commerce is comprised of different channels, including:

  • Mobile websites
  • Mobile applications (apps)
  • Mobile advertising
  • Direct messaging (sending messages via SMS, Whatsapp and Snapchat for example)

Essentially the key is to inform, encourage and persuade customers to purchase from their device, as opposed to just researching information.

Is mobile commerce important for small businesses?

M-commerce is important to businesses of all shapes and sizes because it’s what the customer wants. Mobile habits are constantly growing, with users increasingly spending just as much time and money on a mobile device as they would on a desktop.

According to a report by Criteo, in 2014 41% of online transactions in the UK were made on a mobile device. More globally, the Bank Of America expects over $67 billion to be spent on purchases from a mobile device in 2015 in Europe and the US.

Whether you are a new start-up or an established small business, m-commerce is worth implementing for your business, besides the fact that users want it, because of the benefits it can bring to your conversion rates too:

  • It’s easy to use and instantly adaptable. You can customise and change messages whenever you need.
  • It offers a direct link to your customers. They’re easier to reach, and you can target them at the optimum stage of the buying journey.
  • It’s cost efficient compared to traditional marketing and advertising options.

And mobile technology is continually developing too, which is good news for small businesses.

A recent OnePoll survey of UK SMEs found that almost two thirds of small businesses don’t have any kind of mobile presence, which would see them missing out on a combined revenue of over £50 billion in 2015.

This is largely down to a lack of understanding of the technology, but given that investment in mobile technologies has increased by over $3 billion in the last year (according to a Digi-Capital report), it’s never been easier for a small company to optimise their business for m-commerce.

Getting the most from m-commerce

If you have realised the importance of m-commerce for your business, and want to improve or develop your mobile offerings, there a few things you should consider.

What uses will you have for the technology? Will your customers be buying and downloading e-books and magazines, or will they be purchasing products which need to be shipped?

M-commerce has a plethora of uses from logistics services to booking a taxi, topping up a store card to using a discount voucher in a brick-and-mortar shop. It’s important to think about the features you might want, if you’re heading into the development stage;

  • Do you want push notifications, to promote and inform?
  • Do you want location based services, to provide a specific offer to customers in-store, or target those in a certain area?
  • Do you want to send out discount codes and vouchers, and if so, in what medium?

Whichever development company you use to help design and implement m-commerce will be able to help you with features, but remember to make sure you have the ability to do a few things like:

  • Gather data – so that you can get to know your customers and their spending habits, and subsequently anticipate their needs.
  • Communicate with customers via their mobile device, in one form or another.
  • Personalise content and offers to customers, so you can offer individual discounts to draw them in.

What to look out for when taking your business into m-commerce

Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is the user experience. Always think about the end user, and facilitate the mobile journey for them.

When you’re purchasing from a phone or a tablet, you need a smooth experience that’s simple and efficient. Content should be easy to read, and actions should be easy to make.

Whether it’s a mobile website, an app or a mobile responsive site, customers should experience a seamless journey and a view which is optimised for whatever device they are using.

This means cross-platform testing, good conversion strategy (e.g. with buttons and links which are easily clickable), and visually appealing content.

The need to be visual is important in both traditional and m-commerce, especially with the rise of Pinterest and other photo rich content sites. Users want a good visual experience of what they are about to purchase, so you need to consider this when thinking about how your mobile site or app will look.

Future trends are looking mobile

As integrated mobile payment systems like Google Wallet, Square and Apple Pay become increasingly seamless with m-commerce, usage figures and the average amount spent on transactions is only going to increase.

New categories of m-commerce are emerging all the time, so don’t think that your business is not in the right sector to capitalise on this. Mobile has a place in every small business, and business oweners would be wise to consider how they can take advantage of this market.

The sooner a business can develop a mobile platform, the sooner you can look into cross-device marketing plans, optimised conversions and increased relevancy to customers, all of which will help to continually improve your profits.

Relative to all retail spending habits, m-commerce is still in its infancy, but given the e-commerce trends currently taking place, this is all the more reason to expect rapid growth in the next few years. Will your business be ready?

About the author

This article has been written by ByteStart’s regular web and technology contributor, Nick Pinson. He is a Director at iWeb Solutions, an e-commerce website design agency based in Staffordshire.

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