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M-commerce is the new e-commerce!

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With all the fanfare around the recent launch of the Apple Watch and its compatible m-commerce payment system, Apple Pay, we take another look at what m-commerce means. If you’re just getting started with e-commerce, you have probably come across the term ‘m-commerce’ (sometimes spelled mcommerce). If you’re a little confused as to what exactly m-commerce is, and how it differs from e-commerce, we’re here to help!

The term ‘m-commerce’ is an abbreviation of ‘mobile e-commerce’, and it refers to any kind of e-commerce transacted through a mobile device – whether that’s a mobile phone or a tablet. The two categories – e-commerce and m-commerce – have similarities, but there are some important differences, too.

Mobile users are gradually coming to account for a larger and larger share of the total e-commerce pie. A quarter of the globe’s population now owns a smartphone, and 55% of all time spent on retail sites takes place on a mobile device. And mobile users are a demanding bunch – they expect pages to load as fast, if not faster, on mobile than they do on desktop, and pages that take 6 seconds to load over mobile can lead to a drop in conversions of 50%.

M-commerce vs e-commerce

E-commerce merchants can’t afford to ignore m-commerce, in other words, and it’s not good enough to just build a desktop site and expect mobile users to be happy using it on their phones or tablets. To really succeed in m-commerce, merchants need to take into account differences between the mobile and desktop use-cases. The most important differences are:

  • Smaller screen
  • Touch input
  • Less bandwidth available on mobile networks
  • Mobility

NFC and contactless payments

M-commerce also covers contactless near field communication (NFC) payment, such as that transacted via holding your phone or smartwatch close to a point-of-sale terminal. Some of the biggest names in the Internet technology industry have recently entered into this space. Apple’s latest product, the Apple Watch, with its payment system, Apple Pay, allows the user to pay for goods both online and retail. Google has also just announced its own very similar payment system, called Android Pay, which will be available on any Android device with an NFC chip.

The most striking thing about m-commerce is its explosive growth. Forrester predict that m-commerce sales will grow 33% every year between now and 2017. If retailers don’t want to get left behind, they need to start thinking seriously about mobile strategy now.

To get started, we’d suggest reading our M-Commerce Insights series – which deals with different aspects of m-commerce strategy, with tips on implementation. It’s a brave new world out there – don’t get left behind!

Main image: Shinya Suzuki