eCommerce and mCommerce – is mobile really on the way to rule the world?

On the Western markets the searches launched from mobile devices were already in the majority in 2014 compared to those launched from desktop. Today, the shift in the trend has become obvious even on the smaller markets.

With the growing penetration of smartphones more and more purchases are made on them. Global companies are actively getting prepared for mobile dominance, the Micro-Moments concept elaborated by Google indicates the same.


What is the difference between eCommerce and mCommerce?

eCommerce: According to the definition of Wikipedia, eCommerce, in other words electronic commerce, is “the trading or facilitation of trading in products or services using computer networks, such as the Internet.”


mCommerce (mobile commerce):

is in fact a subcategory of eCommerce, and the substantial difference actually is what kind of devices are used for the shopping. mCommerce does not only include the transactions carried out on mobile phones, but on all kinds of smart devices, from smart phones through phablets to tablets, even laptops are mentioned here in some cases, since those are also portable devices.

As smart devices are famous for their mobility, this implies that mCommerce can be realized not only in front of desktop computers – typically at home or at the workplace –, but it can happen practically anywhere, where there is some kind of internet access available.


Optimization for mobile devices is completely different


It is not only the screen on which an online shop is displayed is simply smaller. You have to take into consideration as many screen sizes, resolutions and colour displays as many kinds of devices there are. So if you are mobile optimizing the appearance of an ecommerce store, you have to be flexible when doing that, so that the appearance can adapt to almost any kind of interface: this can be called real responsiveness.

It is also an important aspect that mobile transactions have to be simple, just like the path leading to the transaction (conversion). We are used to having access to anything through a smartphone, to being able to launch anything, or to close anything by only a few taps or clicks, and this is what we expect from web-based interfaces as well: quickness and simplicity, while we have no problem with even more complex solutions either on a desktop computer.


Anyone and anything can be reached any time


There are huge opportunities lying within targeting mobile users because they are accessible practically any moment. If you send them an eDM, the e-mail instantly beeps on the phone. The users are already on the product page by one click, they can pay straight away as well – a conversion can take place a whole lot quicker.

The mobile is also more powerful when it comes to personalized content or offers: you can gain a great deal of useful information based on which you can make more precise offers.


An example:

An estore selling clothing products can monitor where the visitors are located just then – provided that the visitors allow access to the location data on their phones. You can connect these data with other databases, let’s say, with weather forecasting services. It is only a step away from here to offer on the first page umbrellas to those checking in from a stormy area and sunshades to those who are in a sunny place.


This is a quite simplified example but it shows very well what opportunities there are for you if you take advantage wisely of the possibilities mobility offers.


Hectic conversion – and what lies within

Conversion rate changes from website to website as it depends on countless factors from the pricing of the products to the extent of complicatedness of the navigation used on the online shop.

However, industry averages show that ecommerce stores can usually realize lower conversion on mobiles than on desktops: for some reason the users show more willingness to purchase on desktop computers.

tips Important: While today even 40-50% of the turnover of an online shop can be generated by mobile users, they can bring even 70% less conversions than those arriving from desktop computers.

At the same time, purchases from tablets are leading in this aspect: tablet conversion rates may be even twice as much as desktop conversion rates, on the other hand, only 15% of the turnover is generated from tablets.


What do the statistics show?

According to the Canadian eCommerce Benchmark Report published by Demac Media, showing the data of the first quarter of 2016, in most of the cases the mobile users produce conversions between 0 and 1%, these devices don’t bring 4-5% conversion rates practically anywhere. On the other hand, the desktop brings conversions between 1 and 2 % most of the time.

There is a significant difference between the value of the purchases as well, and these differences show that people are more willing to buy the higher value goods on desktops: this means that desktop computers are considered safer.

Most probably, the reason for this is that a more complex payment process can at the same time provide a greater sense of security: you have more opportunities to convince the users that you don’t deceive them. Likewise, people tend to purchase goods of lower value on mobiles: there is less need for confirmation in case of smaller investments.

Additionally, new shoppers on desktop computers still make up a little larger proportion of visits to online stores than on mobile devices:


mcommerce new shoppers


According to the report, the average cart values by device types are the following:

  • desktop: $127
  • tablet: $114
  • mobile: $104

It is also clear from the report that the patience of the mobile users is noticeably limited.


The number of average number page views per session are shown below:

  • mobile: 4.87
  • tablet: 6.11
  • desktop: 6.61


And this is what you see if you are examining the duration of the visits:

  • mobile: 3 minutes 28 seconds
  • tablet: 4 minutes 29 seconds
  • desktop: 4 minutes 39 seconds



Those arriving at your ecommerce store from mobiles view less pages and leave you quicker as well and in the meantime there is much less chance that they will convert. What is the reason for that?


The reasons for low mobile conversion


Many websites still don’t optimize properly even today: their AdWords advertisements and newsletters may catch the users and direct them to the website, which on the other hand doesn’t appear appropriately on the small screen. Thus the lead guided to the page will interrupt the purchasing process – mobile users are famous for their impatience.

By the way, the golden rule that is worth applying is the rule of 3: the size of any page of the online shop should be less than 3 megabytes (so that the page is not loaded too slowly), and any content within the website should be accessible for the users after 3 clicks at most.



Not only the appearance or design itself can be problematic, but the unoptimized purchasing process as well. It is possible that a payment process of four pages works perfectly on desktop and brings an acceptable conversion rate, however, on mobiles it may prove to be too complex for the customers wishing for a single-step checkout, exactly because its relative complicatedness.



The users don’t always go through the purchasing process in a start-finish way. On desktop, the visitors using the cart as a shopping list are responsible for the majority of cart abandonments: they add the products to cart in order to buy them later. A similar phenomenon can be observed on mobile that is reflected in the conversion rates per devices: the users search for the product on mobile but in the end they finish the purchasing process on desktop.

The purchasing path, as Google put it in its Micro-Moments concept in 2015, has fragmented: people are looking for solutions, products in one or two-minute intervals, decisions are made in seconds. People look for the products ideal for them while travelling on the bus or sitting in the waiting room, they save them and then buy them at home in front of the desktop. Today the purchasing path is not a straight line any more, it’s rather a random set of points, from which it is sometimes difficult to figure out some kind of a pattern.



The hybrid nature of tablets in itself justifies the much higher conversions. The screen is not so small so that the deficient optimization discourages too many customers – whatever is displayed well on desktop usually appears well on tablets as well.

On the other hand, tablets are small, light, you can easily take them anywhere with you. Therefore, potential users have much more opportunities to spend their money using them – and online shops to reach the users.


The customer who is willing but unable

In a great deal of cases the users would be very much ready to purchase on mobiles: it would be more comfortable and quicker than sending a link over to themselves, than continuing and finishing the purchase hours later on a completely different device.

However, the online shops themselves often make this simply impossible. Either because their appearance falls into pieces on the small screen, or because they haven’t thought about the mobiles when elaborating their processes – the point is that the level of the user experience is so low that finishing the purchase requires too much energy.


mcommerce optimization


However, you should not delegate tasks to the users, on the other hand, you should make their job easier in case you want to realize high conversion rates.

It also needs to be mentioned that in certain cases it is not even the bad user experience what’s responsible for the shift in device or the interrupted purchases. The users who were disappointed many times before simply don’t even attempt to purchase because they expect a frustrating experience by default.

For this very reason, if you have successfully optimized your processes for mobiles, it is worth communicating that strongly: letting the users know at every step that they can immediately move on and they are only a couple of simple taps away from comfortable purchasing.


Where to start mCommerce optimization?

Lower conversion and cart value does not suggest that it is not worth investing in mobile ecommerce – it only shows that it has to be done in an intelligent way.

The trend is clear: the mobile has played an important role on the market of online shopping in the last few years and this will not change in the near future. In 2016 mCommerce is expected to grow by 46.8% in the United States, while the “traditional” desktop computer shopping will show an expansion of only 15.7% – the modest, 2.6% growth of retail is basically insignificant compared to that.

And the States is not even among the leading countries with that figure: according to the Mobile 500 report of 2016, expansion of mobile commerce in Latin America is 59.8%, it is 70.7% in Europe and 249.3% in China.

Dominance is only a matter of time, and the shortness of time is determined by how quickly the merchants recognize relevance of all this and optimize fully their pages and processes.

Those who decide in the middle of 2016 to optimize the complete purchasing process thus providing a perfect experience for those visiting their pages on mobile phones as well, can easily outstrip their competitors and experience much higher conversion rates.


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