Although it’s growing, the usability of m-commerce is still far away from where it should be, with a survey by comScore revealing that although people are spending more time looking for products to buy on their mobile, only 15% of money is actually spent on mobile devices.
However, this is set to change, with retailers and developers coming to realise they need to adapt with customer expectations.
The challenges of m-commerce
Pic: Some websites have not been designed to operate with a finger press
The reason why people are still sceptical to replace their desktops with a mobile device for online shopping is down the three main factors.
Firstly, the mobile experience is still very much behind desktop, because screens are still too small and websites or apps aren’t as optimised for shopping online compared to a desktop. A finger isn’t always a good replacement for a mouse pointer when selecting small images or viewing a catalogue with lists of items.
Connectivity is also an issue. Although network speeds are much faster than they were five years ago, 4G isn’t an always-on connection. Head into a black spot, and you can’t complete the purchase, which is frustrating. If someone has to start again after adding items to their cart and getting halfway through the payment experience, they’ll find another retailer to buy it from or finish the transaction when they get home.
Finally, people are still uncomfortable with entering their payment details onto their mobile, because mobile devices are viewed as less secure compared to entering details on a desktop computer that is harder to steal.
Pic: Smartphones now come equiped with fingerprint scanners
Smartphone manufacturers are already starting to address many of these problems, introducing the technologies to make transactions more secure, including fingerprint readers that protect devices from unauthorised access.
Retailers are starting to make the experience better too, by introducing apps that have been designed from the ground up to provide a more seamless experience compared to a mobile web store.
Additionally, social networks are making it easier to buy products without even leaving the apps and websites shoppers feel most comfortable using. Just hit the ‘buy’ button in Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and the transaction can be completed in a familiar environment.
One click checkouts are also becoming more popular, meaning customers no longer have to enter all of their payment details with the fear someone’s looking over their shoulder. Add into the mix OneTouch from PayPal, and it’s giving customers even more peace of mind.
However, there’s still some way to go before customers will happily scrap the desktop to shop online.
The future of m-commerce
Pic: Amazon’s next day delivery is a staple for many online shoppers
By 2026, Ovum predicts that providing a fast experience will be vital for retailers’ success, and that’s whether they’re providing an experience on mobile or desktop. This means whatever a customer is doing, they will be able to buy something instantly and know it’s on the way to their home or office as soon as they hit ‘confirm’.
This will also filter down to the way customers expect their items to be physically shipped to them. Thanks to schemes such as Amazon Prime, customers expect items to be delivered the next day at the very least, with some retailers such as Argos offering same day delivery. This will become increasingly important across the e-commerce board.
As is the case across all sectors, customers expect their shopping experience to be more relevant to their lives and this will mean data analysis and AI will become a vital part of m-commerce. Suggestions and recommendations will become a crucial tools for retailers, combining social media activity, friend recommendations and previous searches to tailor the experience to them, whether they’re accessing stores on web or using an app.
Payments will also have to adapt to become more secure. It’s likely we’ll see retailers start to experiment more with authentication, whether that’s by using biometric methods, two-step authentication or passing the baton to third parties such as PayPal to process the transaction in a secure manner.
M-commerce will provide great opportunities for retailers to increase revenues in the coming years, but the customer experience will become increasingly important too and this should form the centre of every retailer’s business strategy.
Making experiences fast, relevant and secure are three trends that should resonate with anyone developing an app, whatever sector their retail business falls into.