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02 February 2016


You've heard of e-commerce, but what about m-commerce? Mobile devices have long taken a back seat to the larger, less portable desktop and PC. However, current trends suggest that may no longer be the case. As the mobile (smart phones, tablets etc.) segment of e-commerce, m-commerce has quietly yet steadily crept up to more traditional channels of commerce. While mobile-commerce shows no signs of slowing down, there are still some obstacles.

M-commerce hasn’t always been such a bankable option for retailers. Not too long ago mobile commerce was arguably synonymous with buying ringtones, but the advancements in technology have since changed the mobile landscape. Retailers now have another reliable channel to reach consumers.

In 2015 mobile commerce made up 34% of all global e-commerce sales, and in 2016 analysts predict mobile commerce will hit 20.6 percent of overall e-commerce, or $79 billion in 2016. The usage is there, the consumer is there, but what about the customer? Are users being turned into buyers via mobile devices?

While mobile commerce is definitely on the rise, its conversion rates are still behind desktop’s. 2015 saw global m-commerce conversion rates at an average .96 percent vs. 2.71 percent via traditional online commerce (Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly). However, there does appear to be a distinction between the tablet and the smart phone, tablet purchases are gaining more traction globally with a conversion rate a respectable 2.51 percent.

The major issue seems to be with smart phones. Smart phone users in particular still don’t have an easy enough purchase path. Small screens, slow speeds, hard to fill in fields and non-mobile friendly designs, have made conversions more difficult. So while mobile commerce is expected to rise, retailers still have work to do to accommodate mobile users, especially smart phone users.

Its estimated that by 2020, mobile commerce will make up 45 percent of total e-commerce. If businesses want to harness smart phone usage and partake in this digital gold rush, m-commerce cannot be treated like a low level priority.

Business have their distinctions, but in general m-commerce issues come down to 4 things, purchase path, mobile interface, speed, and safety. Retailers need to take into account the behavior of smart phone users and address the issues in a specific way. M-commerce is about convenience and also experiences. How will businesses enhance and personalize the experience of the mobile consumer? 

In m-commerce businesses have the opportunity to establish even closer relationships with consumers. Product and content recommendations are obvious go to’s and have great value in commerce. In the service industry companies like Subway, Uber, and Seamless all use aspects of personalization to connect with their customers and enhance user experiences. These businesses have taken advantage of mobile usage by structuring their entire business on mobile platforms or adapting their services to the smart phone user.

Mobile adaptation and personalization creates a one to one advantage, especially with smart phone users. Simply, smart phones are used by just one user, so companies can engage with consumers on a person to person basis. People tend to have their smart phones with them at all times, cell phones are essentially our personal assistants so to speak, holding our photos, bank apps, car service apps, and personal contacts. There isn’t anything more personal than the smart-phone in m-commerce,

Looking ahead, the possibilities are really exciting, m-commerce has the potential to change and perhaps revolutionize the online buying process. In order to fully take advantage of the current momentum and turn the consumer into a customer, businesses have to address the current issues effecting m-commerce, or get left behind.


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