Mobile Commerce: Definition, Benefits, Examples, and Trends

What Is Mobile Commerce?

Mobile commerce, also known as m-commerce, involves using wireless handheld devices like cellphones and tablets to conduct commercial transactions online, including the purchase and sale of products, online banking, and paying bills.

The use of m-commerce activity is on the rise. According to market research company Statista, mobile commerce sales in the United States are an estimated $431 billion in 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile commerce refers to business or purchases conducted over mobile devices like cell phones or tablets.
  • With m-commerce, users can transact anywhere provided there's a wireless internet provider available in that area.
  • Mobile commerce has increased rapidly as security issues have been resolved.
  • Companies like Apple and Google have introduced their own mobile commerce services.

Understanding Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce is an increasingly large subset of electronic commerce, a model where firms or individuals conduct business over the internet. Nearly 97% of Americans own a cell phone, and 85% of them own a smartphone, which is up from 35% in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center.

Many products and services can be transacted m-commerce, including banking, investing, and purchases of books, plane tickets, and digital music. The rapid growth of mobile commerce has been driven by several factors, including increased wireless handheld device computing power, a proliferation of m-commerce applications, and the broad resolution of security issues.

M-Commerce vs. E-Commerce

Electronic commerce (e-commerce) refers to the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet. E-commerce may be conducted via a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. However, e-commerce is typically associated with a computer in which a user has to find a location with an internet connection.

Conversely, m-commerce specifically refers to transactions done via a smartphone or mobile device. With m-commerce, users can transact anywhere provided there's a wireless internet provider available in that area.

M-commerce transactions tend to be done with a few clicks, while e-commerce done via a tablet, laptop, or desktop might involve more time and exploring a company's website.

Benefits of Mobile Commerce

The range of devices capable of mobile commerce is growing. For example, digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay let customers make in-store purchases without the inconvenience of swiping cards. And during the mid- to late-2010s, social media platforms, such as Meta (formerly Facebook), Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, launched "buy buttons" on their mobile platforms, enabling users to conveniently make purchases from other retailers directly from these social media sites.

The portability of mobile devices helps businesses extend their reach to their customers through mobile commerce. Coupons and discounts can be sent from retailers to customers. Personalized shopping experiences can also connect the retailer with their client.

M-commerce apps allow for location tracking via GPS to offer their customers help finding items in their store. Security can also be enhanced using m-commerce apps since multi-factor authentication can be done, including biometrics such as fingerprints and retina scans.

Although there are many benefits of m-commerce to retailers and consumers, e-commerce is still prevalent among Americans. Only 15% of American adults use only their smartphone for their internet connection, which means they have a broadband or cable service provider, while 77% own a computer.

As content delivery over wireless devices becomes more streamlined, secure, and scalable, digital commerce transactions are likely to continue climbing.

Special Considerations

Ways to Improve Mobile Commerce

Quick-loading web pages are likely to win more sales because consumers can be impatient and demand instant gratification. Mobile checkouts must let buyers easily enter payment information, preferably with mobile wallets that eliminate the use of manual entry, thereby reducing human error and facilitating a smoother checkout experience.

Mobile Commerce Videos and Marketing

Mobile applications that use videos to demonstrate a product's key features are likely to generate more revenue. For example, an online foreign exchange broker who sends video links illustrating its new mobile trading application will likely win more clients.

Mobile Web and Mobile Applications

Consumers typically use Google or social media promotions to initiate online shopping searches. Consequently, browsers tend to drive more transactions than mobile applications. For this reason, consumers often pair the use of mobile applications with mobile websites to enhance their overall shopping experience.

Article Sources
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  1. Statista. "Mobile Commerce in the United States - Statistics & Facts."

  2. Pew Research Center. "Mobile Fact Sheet."

  3. Meta. "Testing a New Way for People to Discover and Buy Products on Facebook."

  4. Twitter. "Testing a Way for You to Make Purchases on Twitter."

  5. Pinterest. "Coming Soon: Buyable Pins!"

  6. Instagram. "Introducing Checkout on Instagram."

  7. Optimizely. "B2C Ecommerce Benchmark 2019," Pages 4-7.

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