M & E-COMMERCE DEFINITIONS
In the past few years we’ve been talking a lot about e-commerce & lately even more about m-commerce. So Let’s start off by describing them both.
E-commerce stands for electronic commerce, which is the concept of doing business using an electronic network, mostly through the internet. Obviously, it can be used in B2B, B2C, C2C and C2B. Transactions are mainly done on a computer or laptop.
Now, what is m-commerce? It stands for mobile commerce. Here, we’re talking about commercial transactions that are done on smartphones, increasing therefore the accessibility and connectivity as it’s easier to carry those devices. Obviously, it has become more popular because the options of devices that enables us to do online transactions has been growing and will continue on growing for years to come.
It all started between 1994 & 1995 with Amazon and e-bay, the founders of online commerce. We have reached a period where the Internet has become indispensable, more and more with the growth of knowledge and technology. We have now access to information we didn’t have before, which has been changing our behavior slowly slowly, in our social and business lives. In fact, businesses need to adapt and use electronic commerce channels to communicate with customers and to increase their competitive advantage.
CHANGES IN THE CUSTOMER’S HABITS
For all of you who had a few classes of Marketing, I am sure you remember the classic “consumer buying decision process”. Well with the growth of m-commerce and e-commerce we can see a big change in the consumer’s habits, altering that model. People got used to having easy ways to reach brands and stores. In fact, over the years, we have seen a huge change in the expectations of customers regarding convenience, speed, price, product information and service. With m-commerce and e-commerce, we are able to provide customers more information and options and specially more ways to buy. E-commerce has been growing and will keep on growing, at a faster pace, taking a bigger place in the retail sales. Taking for example the UK; it has been and most probably will remain the world leader of e-commerce with a prediction of online sales increasing from 14.5% in 2015 to 19.3% in 2019.
RETAILERS NEED TO ADAPT
Facing all those changes, traditional advertising has not had any other choice than to evolve and become more personalized. Using social medias, we can now target individuals based on what they’ve said they like, we actually have the possibility to create the need before it has even been recognized by the consumer. With the growth of m-commerce, consumers can research from any location at any time, the access to information is so easy that retailers must be present everywhere and obviously offering the best online experience possible in order not to lose customers to competitors. The future of mobile commerce will be extensive spending on technology to improve customer experience. One of the most efficient ways to offer the perfect experience is with an incredible UX design, but that’s not the subject of the article, if you want to know more about it, here’s an article you should read.
In traditional commerce, people did not have that many options. Now, they can make better choices and take better decisions. They don’t accept to get fooled by a brand, they can read the reviews of existing customers; finding substitutes to retailers products has become very easy, one of reasons why mobile optimized websites and smartphone apps have been growing that much. So for all online retailers out there, please do give importance to your online social medias, sites reviews and comments; positive feedback is amazing but negative feedback can kill you.
It also is very important that retailers listen to customers, understand what information they are looking for, to then be able to give it to them. Basically becoming more pro-active; having the information waiting for the customer before he even started looking for it.
Yes, this means that the marketer’s job is harder than ever. As it has all been changing faster and faster, we constantly need to research, read and learn in order to know what new trends are popping out, new channels that are used and new technologies. This is what can help us to be ready to react and adapt to changes. I am not saying that it is all negative, on the contrary, what I am trying to say is that there are huge opportunities to grow and create loyal relationships with customers, but we need to work hard to get there.
M-COMMERCE – MOBILE CENTRIC MARKETING
The number of people using mobile devices keeps on increasing and nowadays, mobile devices have become part of our lives. As we almost all have access to mobile data plans, online shopping via mobile devices have become much more common and convenient.
The primary screen for most of consumers was laptops and desktops and has been replaced by mobiles for many, which is why retailers should consider the ‘mobile first’ approach to marketing. In 2013, mobile advertising increased by 93.3%. Not only is mobile advertising rising, but also the spendings, meaning that mobile commerce should be considered by all companies. But it is obviously not easy to do the transition to mobile, so here’s 4 points that brands should know/consider before doing the switch.
- Consider the various advertising formats – Mobile advertising supports various formats as videos, display, and native. Some are more effective for particular targets at particular times and points. That is why you can’t omit to test the different options to reach the best possible results.
- Don’t forget the different viewing situations – As mobiles are used more often, the ads on mobiles can be viewed in completely different contexts than when watched on TV or computers. Marketers always should keep this in mind; when and how will consumers view the ad? In a bus or a metro, in a waiting room or at the restaurant, etc.
- Trust me, target via location data – The data we get with mobile is enormous, helping us to personalize segmentation and targeting. All marketers should take advantage of this data to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message instead of putting an ad in the wrong context which could really bring damage to the brand. If you’re interested about knowing more about location based advertising, here’s a nice article you could read.
- Think about mobile ad design – As mentioned earlier, consumers can instantly react with the help of smartphones; they can find out more about the brand, share ads they like via social media, or make a purchase. The mobile ad designs should therefore include features that are interactive and that enable consumers to engage, via calls to action, likes, sharing, etc.
SOME ADVANTAGES OF M-COMMERCE
- Customization – having access to data about the user’s facilitates the offering of personalized services. We constantly get updates about the status & location of the customer, and with good data analysis, we are able to customize to respond better to user’s needs.
- Accessibility – there is no need for modem or WI-FI connectivity setup. As long as the network signal is available, mobile devices can connect to the internet and perform commercial transactions, which means that providers can reach customers over a longer range.
- Time is money – with m-commerce, we remove the need of buyers heading to a physical shop, which automatically means they are saving time & money.
- Instant contact – customers can reach a business instantly; live chat, calling with one click, 24-hour billing & sales, etc.
- Mobile shopping – m-commerce stores is not only a plus to businesses, it’s a must. Undermining the importance of m-commerce will mean losing clients; to keep them coming back, it will be necessary to offer a seamless shopping experience via websites and apps that are optimized.
- Multiple channels – by now I am sure you got it; people don’t only use desktops, they also have tablets & phones. Several consumers use their mobile devices or tablets to research and browse to make the best decisions, and that at different times of the day. For example discovering an ad on their desktop at work, then doing a research of that brand on their mobile phone while going back home, and finally passing to the purchase stage one they get home on their big big screen. What does that mean? e-commerce and m-commerce stores must be responsive on all channels.
- Content is crucial – Specifically in B2B sales. If you want to convince buyers to purchase from you, you need to give them what they want: detailed specifications, helpful videos, rich images, and comprehensive product guidelines.
- Data analysis – It’s good to get a huge amount of data, but if you’re not able to understand them and identify patterns based on history, then it’s actually pointless. You should use Algorithms.
- Better shipping experience – Online retailers need to realize that the customer is king to have a chance to win them over. Customers have thousands of choices making the switch from a brand to other quite easy. As they are looking to save time, retailers should offer same-day deliveries.
Offline commerce is not dead, and specially not e-commerce, but you should all integrate m-commerce. In fact, it can no longer be ignored and it might take a few years to reach the levels of e-commerce but it is obviously better to adapt to it now than to watch and wait and try to catch up later.