In recent years, many retail stores have found themselves scrambling to gain back market share lost during the advent of the online mega-retailer. While some stores are still struggling, others have been able to regain their footing. Some have even learned to excel by creating a mobile commerce experience to improve relationships with customers and strengthen their connection to the brand.
What is Mobile Commerce?
So what exactly is mobile commerce and what importance could it have for you? According to investopidia.com, mobile commerce is defined as “the use of wireless handheld devices such as cellular phones and laptops to conduct commercial transactions online.” As technology continues to grow, the definition is lengthened to include “the purchase and sale of a wide range of goods and services, online banking, bill payment, information delivery and so on.”
As smartphone and tablet use increases, companies must find a way to reach customers on the go. In December of 2013, Business Insider reported that one in five people have a smartphone and one in every seventeen people own a tablet. That number has only increased in the past year and a half with new releases. In addition to the growing use of these devices, Smart Insights reported that in 2014 the number of global users that access the Internet on their phones surpassed the global users that are using desktops to access the Internet. Additionally, the statistics in the image to the left were reported in January 2015.
Why is Mobile Commerce Important?
It is important for innovative companies to adapt to mobile commerce and maximize this technology to build a better relationship with their customers, which will in turn grow the business. More people are using portable devices daily, giving companies more availability to consumers if they can find an effective way to reach them on the go. Given the high demand and usage of mobile devices, companies need to be mobile optimized to enhance customer experience.
There are a few different ways that retail stores can implement effective mobile commerce. The two main areas of focus should be in apps and mobile Internet. Both genders use apps and mobile web for a considerable amount of time each month. In both of these areas, there are various ways a company can execute mobile commerce, but they need to understand the risk in doing so. With the variety of available smartphones, tablets and computers, there are a range of things to consider before production and implementation of such mobile commerce. One must consider operating systems (ex. IOS, android), screen size (ex. Phone, Tablet, Computer) and content. Without a working knowledge of those three things, your mobile commerce plan will not be effective.
How Can Retail Stores Implement Mobile Commerce?
As before, there are two main areas of focus for implementing your mobile commerce strategy: apps and mobile web. Every company should run multiple tests to see if their website is compatible with every possible device that’s on the market. If a site is sloppy or won’t load on a certain device, that will deter customers. If the content is too small or bunched together to be easily read, that will also discourage them from purchasing your product or service. Mobile web is one of the easiest ways to attract or lose customers. Compared to using apps, optimizing your mobile web allows you to reach any customer using any device, is easier and costs less.
Retail stores can implement a few different strategies of mobile commerce through apps. Apps have become a norm; from a simple flashlight to securely paying your bills, they’re a part of our daily life. Retail stores can capitalize on the use of mobile stores, point of sale (POS), in-store showrooms, a store locater and maps.
Apple was one of the first to implement an efficient POS system in all of their stores, making it convenient for both the customer and the employees. With the increase in use of tablets in stores and apps allowing simple transactions, more and more stores are implementing POS systems. With the invention of the Square accessory for Apple devices and apps such as Lightspeed, it is increasingly beneficial for retail stores to use a POS system. Lightspeed in particular offers simple transactions as well as in depth analysis of all sales.
As an example of how these elements work together, let’s look at Lowes. To make it an easy checkout process, they linked together a mobile store and your Lowes account to be able to purchase items through the app as well as a POS system for checking out in store. Also on their app they have a product locater, which allows customers to easily find what they are looking for at the store they are in. In addition to a map of the store, the app allows you to add comments and lists to make the map more detailed for the customer’s interests and needs.
Jake Dahlgren—Content Creator