The Difference Between Ecommerce and Mcommerce

by Samuel Northrup • ,

It can be hard to spot the difference between ecommerce and mcommerce. Both involve buying and selling products and services online, but there’s a crucial distinction between the two.

Mcommerce is an abbreviation of “mobile commerce” and refers to any transaction made using a mobile device. By 2025, it will account for 44.2% of all retail ecommerce sales in the U.S., according to eMarketer. Over the next three years, mcommerce will also outpace ecommerce in projected year-over-year growth.

In this post, we’ll break down the essential aspects of mcommerce, including what makes it so different from ecommerce, and share tips you can use to improve your business’ mobile shopping experience.

The Characteristics of Mcommerce

Mcommerce is more than just buying a product online using a smartphone. In fact, an mcommerce purchase is not even limited to just websites and online marketplaces.

Mcommerce covers any commercial transaction conducted using a mobile device. This includes online retail orders, proximity mobile payments, money transfers, social commerce purchases, and much more.

There’s no shortage of different mcommerce transactions. However, they generally fall into three categories.

1. Mobile Shopping

Mobile shopping is the most popular form of mcommerce. It’s characterized by the use of smartphones and tablets to shop across mobile-optimized websites, apps, and social media platforms. Mobile shopping also directly relates to ecommerce sales and is the form of mcommerce we’ll focus on throughout the rest of this post.

2. Mobile Payments

This is a catch-all term for in-person and digital payments made with a mobile device. It typically involves paying with mobile wallets on smartphones, like proximity mobile payments (e.g., Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.), peer-to-peer payments, and mobile point-of-sale systems like Square.

3. Mobile Banking

Mobile banking is any financial transaction conducted via a mobile device. Common transactions include check deposits and bill payments completed through a financial institution’s official mobile app.

Understanding Mcommerce vs. Ecommerce

Ecommerce is the buying and selling of products or services via the internet. Mcommerce is the use of a mobile device to purchase any product from anywhere in the world. Unlike mcommerce, ecommerce transactions are conducted using any internet-connected device, including desktops and smartphones, and take place entirely online.

So, why differentiate mobile-only shopping with mcommerce instead of just sticking to a broader term like ecommerce? It’s primarily due to mobile devices progressively overtaking desktops as consumers’ preferred choice for online transactions.

Last year, mcommerce accounted for 39% of total ecommerce sales in the U.S. By 2025, sales made on mobile devices will reach $728 billion and account for 44.2% of all ecommerce sales, according to projections by eMarketer. Within that same time frame, mcommerce could account for as much as 68% of all global ecommerce sales.

5 Tips for a Great Mcommerce Shopping Experience

To keep up with customer expectations, you need to prioritize and optimize your customer experience strategy for mobile. Here are five practical steps your business can take to offer customers a better mobile shopping experience right now.

1. Simplify your website.

Because most mcommerce purchases take place on smartphones, you need to optimize your mobile site for handheld devices with small screens. A mobile store that is overly complex with slow page load times will cause customers to drop off the path to purchase — and hurt your site’s ranking on search engines.

2. Make checkout easy.

The average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.8%. However, the solution is simple: Make checkout so easy that your customers don’t have the time to second guess and bounce from your site with a full cart. Accepting fast, user-friendly payment options like Apple Pay or Google Pay as alternatives to manually entering credit card details can help streamline the checkout process.

3. Personalize everything.

Personalizing your mobile shopping experience doesn’t have to be complex. Little things like addressing a customer by name in marketing messages or sending a special discount on their birthday go a long way. Depending on your budget and bandwidth, you could also implement a rewards program for loyal shoppers or offer personalized product recommendations based on a customer’s order history.

4. Leverage social media.

Social media is a great way to build awareness for your brand while also marketing products. With platforms like Facebook and Instagram now offering native selling tools, you can even sell to your customers directly through their favorite social media apps. Read our latest guide to learn everything you need to know about selling directly to customers via social media platforms.

5. Offer in-store pickup options.

Alternative fulfillment options like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) have skyrocketed in popularity since the start of the pandemic. Offering BOPIS at checkout gives mobile shoppers a free same-day pickup option and has the added benefit of increasing foot traffic to your physical store.

Optimize Your CX for Mobile Shopping Today

Creating a stellar mobile shopping experience is more manageable when you have customer feedback to guide you. No matter the size of your business, our free survey solutions collect comments and ratings covering the end-to-end shopping experience across your mobile and desktop sites.

Identify what your customers want most and make targeted improvements to your site accordingly. Learn how you can start collecting verified feedback from real customers today.

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