Since its development in the late 90s, the e-commerce industry has consistently grown. Today, a significantly large number of consumers and businesses have switched to ordering their products and services online through e-commerce stores. Improvements in communication strategy and mobile technology have played a large part in this development.
We will review some of the major ways in which mobile technology has improved online shopping and the ways in which businesses can make the best use of this technology to enhance profitability.
The Popularity of Smartphones and Mobile Devices for Internet Use
Marketing statistics show that there were more than a billion mobile devices in use, as early as 2014. Today, this number is expected to be over 2.5 billion. More than half of the global internet traffic accesses the web through mobile devices.
Hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. alone use smartphones to go online and search for products and services. More than 25% of U.S. consumers buy products online at least once a week, with over 50% consumers ordering goods and services through mobile devices at least once every month.
As a business owner selling products online, you should aim to tap into the huge market of mobile-based shoppers. Not doing so can have bad consequences for your business and you could lose the competitive edge of your business.
Why Users Prefer Mobiles for Online Shopping
Mobile apps are probably the biggest reason why people switched to using mobile for shopping. Mobile apps were the catalyst for raising the popularity of mobile devices. They turned an otherwise simple communication tool into a powerful gadget that could be used for a variety of purposes.
Your online business can develop an app for almost any business function, from marketing and sales coordination to buying products and services through your integrated platform.
Mobile apps allow you to use websites for ordering products on the go, making it far more useful than ordering through a desktop computer. A 2016 survey for cross-platform usage showed that mobile usage had overtaken desktop, and mobile apps have become the preferred medium of browsing and shopping online.
Many retail businesses have wondered why this is the case. Business managers ask why people prefer to use mobiles for placing orders through an app than the PC. Several reasons are given for this changing trend.
Mobile Apps Can Be Used From Anywhere
Mobile apps give users far more freedom and functionality than sitting on a desktop does. You do not need to be sitting in your office or home to place an order. Since most users are connected to the net via GPS all the time, they can place an order from anywhere, anytime.
Suppose you are walking on the high street and see something interesting in a shop window. You can simply take out your mobile, take a picture and do a price comparison on the spot. If you like the item enough, you can order it right away instead of going to a desktop to make a comparison and placing an order.
Mobile Devices Offer Easier User Interface
All it takes to open a mobile app is a flick. Ordering food, products or even services takes just a few swipes. Modern mobile devices have an excellent user interface that is built for simplicity and even novice buyers can use mobiles to or shop online.
Using a desktop is more difficult in comparison. There are so many icons and menus to choose from that an inexperienced user can quickly get lost when they are looking to order products or services.
I do not find it surprising that even those people who are in the Baby Boomer or Generation X found it easier to adapt to a mobile device than computers for placing orders online.
Mobiles Can Make Best Use of Features
Mobile devices have multiple methods for getting input from the user. Most mobiles have touch screens that allow you to tap anywhere to enter commands and text through an on-screen keyboard. You can use the device to scan codes through the built-in camera and it even allows you to record motion or use the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology to use the device as a card.
The dozens of scanning features on a mobile device gives users and developers options for creating useful checkout and payment options.
I have seen developers come up with more secure online payment systems that are built exclusively for mobile devices. Online shoppers can make their payments through credit or debit card as well as mobile wallets, net banking, UPI systems, and EMI payment methods.
The mobile wallet and UPI payment system is specifically aimed at mobile users. The mobile wallet allows users to complete a payment in a couple of steps. These payment systems are completely secure and built with end-to-end encryption for users, preventing the chance of fraudulent activity.
Businesses that heavily rely on e-commerce get the opportunity to target the most relevant audience for their products and services. Marketing and sales are targeted towards potential clients that are most likely to buy from the business. Even the content that clients see is customized to their specific needs.
Your business can adjust the advertising based on the buyers’ preferences and their browsing history. Businesses can send their existing or past customers notifications and content that is customized based on their needs. Businesses can also determine the timing for peak hours when most mobile users are online and using their apps to create a concerted marketing effort. When customers are sent push notifications during peak time, there is a higher chance that the user will buy the product from the business.
In the current marketing environment, interactivity is the key to grabbing user attention and effectively selling your products. The traditional marketing channels relied on one-way communication with businesses advertising their products to customers without any way for customers to give feedback in real-time. Mobile-based marketing allows businesses to send specialized content such as 360-degree photos, videos, and interactive apps that capture the attention of users and give them a much better buying experience.
Connection through Social Media
Social media platforms account for the biggest use online. In general, a user spends about two hours every day on social media platforms. 62% of these users access social media via a smartphone or mobile device.
An increasing number of social media platforms allow users to browse and shop for products without leaving their social media page. They allow e-commerce businesses options for setting up product menus and place orders from their social media account.
Online businesses can utilize the power of social media to drive e-commerce sales. You can use Facebook and Instagram shops or set up buyable pins at Pinterest to generate revenue for your business by simply setting up the option for clients. Users can click on the “Buy or Shop” option on the mobile app of the social media platform to order the products that they want to buy.
The Need for Creating Mobile Responsive E-Stores
To get the benefit of new mobile technology, businesses and developers must create a responsive website or e-store that can easily adapt for use on mobile devices. It is unfortunate buy many businesses still do not see the importance of creating a mobile responsive website and business app for promoting their products and services.
In my experience, creating mobile-friendly digital assets is neither expensive nor difficult. It does require a bit of market research and smart allocation of resources in the right place. Businesses must consider various factors that come into play when people use a mobile device for buying products online.
Screen Size Adjustment
Mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes. A dynamic website is designed in such a way that it adjusts the display area according to the mobile screen that is used to access the site. The content, banner, and pictures on the web page don’t just shrink in size, but also re-positions and the text realigns to keep user visibility at an optimum level.
Furthermore, when the mobile screen is tilted sideways, the web page also gets adjusted to remain easy to view.
Whether you are creating a product-ordering mobile app or a website for your customers, make sure to get it tested for ease of viewing across different mobile devices and operating systems.
Offer Plenty of Features
Your online business or e-stores must package its product catalog and checkout options in a form that is easy to use through a native mobile app. It will allow your business to add a new level of personalization to the app making each brand unique and easily distinguishable.
Online retailers can offer a variety of features on their e-stores such as customizable dashboards and previous order history for one-tap repeat orders. Businesses can also offer voice ordering service and automatic form filling for orders.
Market reports show that the time people spend on their mobile devices per session of using apps is increasing. This proves that the mobile experience is growing for shoppers.
Apps that offer rich features are already quite popular for B2C retail businesses that focus on selling to final consumers. The B2B industry is also starting to pick up the trend. More and more distribution companies allow their clients the possibility to order products through customizable apps because they make the ordering process much more efficient. Distributors and suppliers have also found it easier to manage their sales and operations through handheld devices.
Mobile orders, on-site booking, and real-time customer insights allow sales reps to work whilst on the move, with the ability to accept and confirm orders for clients. Mobile sales apps make it easier to target leads, track order progress and update existing product catalogues whenever required.
Build Marketing Opportunities
As mobile ordering continues to gain momentum, businesses are finding new opportunities for advertising their products and services to customers. For example, it is now possible for companies to send advertisements to potential customers directly on their mobile after a client has installed the business app.
I have seen this feature used in the best possible manner by retail companies. Whether a brand is looking to encourage clients to finish their purchase or try out a new product, push notification and text messaging is the way to go.
You no longer have to rely on lengthy email messages that the customer may not even read because it gets lost in junk mail. Unlike their mailboxes, users are likely to check their mobiles every few hours and a mobile message, promoting your new product is much more likely to get attention than any other form of the promotional message.
Experts agree that mobile marketing is growing in number. It offers businesses the ability to target customers based on their search history and location. The benefit is that your business products will be shown to the right clients who are more likely to buy from you than advertise your products to someone who is half-way around the planet.
Use Social Media
The marketing trend should also be applied through social media platforms. Studies show that 70% of B2B buyers make their purchase decisions due to influence from social media. This trend is supported by market evidence where mobile e-Commerce technology can be integrated with plenty of social sharing platforms.
While I do not think B2B suppliers will tweet to customers about their next bulk order. However, it is important for businesses to understand how their app or mobile website is interlinked with the information sharing ecosystem.
Suppose there is a clothing retailer who wants to share details of new fashion accessories through their Instagram account or a business consultant who wants to advertise upcoming events through their LinkedIn profile. Social media platforms offer the best way to achieve this and they can have a huge impact on mobile marketing efforts for businesses and individuals.
Mobile Devices Allow Better Customer Analysis for E-Businesses
Last but not least is the consideration for reviewing customer data. Mobile apps and websites can be a great source for your marketing research effort. We cannot possibly understate the importance of data in the current B2B e-Commerce environment.
Many successful businesses are using in-depth analytical tools to collect information about everything, from the way they design their app’s user interface to the topics of their website content that get customer attraction.
It is becoming a norm for B2C businesses to build customer profiles and create sales funnels that recognize and solve unique customer needs while improving sales. The online mobile stores, with their customer histories, purchase recommendation, and personalized subscription options have helped create a template that can be used by B2B businesses to boost sales.
In this blog post, we looked at some of the main reasons user prefer mobile shopping and also covered how businesses can design effective mobile platforms for their online stores.
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