Why Small Businesses Need to Get Active with Mobile Commerce

This year, 15% of online retail sales will take place via mobile devices, according to eMarketer, up from 11% in 2012. By 2017, the percentage will rise to 25%. Overall, eMarketer estimates, US retail Mcommerce sales will reach nearly $39 billion in 2013, up 56.5% over 2012 and almost triple the amount spent in 2011. This includes products and services ordered online via any mobile device, whether payment or fulfillment happened on mobile itself or in person. The estimates exclude sales of travel services or event tickets.

US Mcommerce sales 2011-17
Many businesses have optimized their online presence to cater to the mobile audience by either creating mobile versions of their websites or tweaking the existing sites for better viewing on mobile web browsers. But according to the SMB Group’s 2010 Small and Medium Business Mobile Solutions Study, only about 12 percent of small businesses (1-99 employees) and 21 percent of medium businesses (100-499 employees) have mobile web sites (versus 44 percent for companies with more than 500 employees).

The fact that many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have yet to take advantage of the mobile commerce trend suggests you should get started to stay ahead of your competition. Here are seven tips that could help you make the leap into the mobile retail.

Reach out to big spenders:

According to a recent Essential Research survey on mobile internet adoption, 42 percent of mobile internet users have a household income of over £40,000 a year and spend more on their mobile bills. If you cater to the affluent segment of consumers, then the likelihood of their owning smartphones or tablets is much higher. Consumers using iPads spend significantly more time and money on e-commerce sites. While the iPad dominates mobile traffic, the iPhone and other mobile devices are not far behind. Therefore, a mobile website increases your chances of being seen by this crowd and communicating your messages.

Engage more often:

An increasing number of people are using their mobiles to access the web, and this means more opportunities to interact with potential buyers. According to the Pew Research Center, 57.8 million American consumers access the web via mobile devices on any given day, while in the U.K. web traffic from mobiles is already estimated to be growing eight times faster than traffic from PCs. Companies with active mobile websites can easily initiate interactions with this audience through various search and social media platforms and lead them to their mobile websites. But that is not the outcome at this point because 52 percent of users in a survey by Google said that bad mobile experiences made them less likely to engage with companies.

Help customers decide to buy:

Before making the actual purchase, many consumers research with their mobile devices. According to a report by Forrester Research Inc., 37 percent of U.S. online adult tablet owners and 14 percent of online adult mobile phone owners are using their devices to research products to prepare for purchases. U.S. online consumers are also using their devices to read customer product reviews (tablets 28 percent and mobile phones 10 percent), locate a store and check store hours (tablet 17 percent and mobile phone 16 percent) and check product availability online (tablet 16 percent and mobile phone 7 percent).

Drive more sales:

With a rise in the number of working couples, people have much less time and patience to visit stores to shop for frequently used items or those that do not need to be checked for size or customized, ranging from tool kits to fashion accessories and electronic equipment to home linens. A mobile website helps your audience avoid the hassles of driving and traffic. Instead, they can just buy with their phones while sitting in their offices and have products delivered.

Offer information:

A mobile website can help you not only by acting as an additional sales medium but also as a tool to make it easy for customers to get information about your products and services. Some features that you may want to include are:

  • Chat to get advice from experts or make appointments
  • Check on delivery status
  • Contact customer service
  • Get loyalty rewards and discount coupons

Additionally, you can incentivize your customers to shop on your mobile website to get them in the habit of using it. “To take advantage of the mobile commerce trend, small and mid-sized businesses should focus on their existing customers first and provide incentives—special mobile-only deals and discounts—to transact business over their mobile devices,” said Andrew Lipsman, senior director, Industry Analysis, comScore.

Capture customers who are showrooming:

Consumers these days do not rely on references from friends and family alone but also check out products in stores and then use their smartphones to compare prices with competitors, buying products later online or immediately via mobile.

Forrester research on reluctant mobile shoppers
Data researched by Forrester shows that while consumers use the mobile channel to research competitive product pricing, they often prefer to purchase in brick-and-mortar stores. Barriers to mobile purchasing could include sites that are poorly optimized for mobile, concerns over the security of mobile payments and patchy wireless connections. Consequently, quick-loading mobile websites with a focus on easy transactions will help you maximize your investment in mobile commerce.

Check out the competitors:

Look at the leading companies in your industry and related categories to see if M-commerce is benefiting your segment and how others are using it to lure new and existing customers. Shopping apps for companies such as eBay and Amazon attracted 13 million and 12 million unique users respectively in June 2012 alone. Daily deals sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial aren’t far behind with more than 10 million Americans using those apps in June 2012. Visit their mobile websites for interesting features that will engage your customers and make your mobile website stand out.

Are you planning to go active with mobile commerce? We’ll share tips for designing an effective mobile website soon. In the meantime, check out our mobile websites and ads design services that help companies reach customers.

About Kriti Adlakha
I have been working in the field of marketing and brand development for more than eight years. My experience ranges from hospitality to media and IT products to outsourced services. During my journey, I have worked with print and new-age media and have enjoyed developing content. I have also learnt and worked on marketing tools like adwords marketing, analytics, CRM and the list is steadily growing. Having acquired post-graduate diploma in business management from IIM, Calcutta, I love new challenges and learn from each experience. In my blog, I share marketing strategies that enable small and medium businesses to market in a small budget. I also discuss how to use different online tools that can help businesses to monitor returns of their marketing investments. Above all, I love to hear back from my readers!

3 Responses to Why Small Businesses Need to Get Active with Mobile Commerce

  1. Pingback: Designing Your Mobile Website to Draw Visitors | Affinity Express Blog

  2. Jeremy Lydic says:

    Great insight into an aspect of advertising that’s already huge and still growing. Clearly, the numbers are there to demonstrate the need for mobile commerce apps, but the trick is getting the small-business owner to understand why he should spend the money on “this new fangled technology.”

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