Is Your Brand Ready For The M-Commerce Shift?

M-commerce is changing our entire understanding of what inventory, customer intent and purchase incentive can mean.

My daughter loves the game of basketball, and we needed a small basketball hoop and basketball for the house so she could practice. I drove to Walmart where there was a particular setup I knew would do the trick, but when I got there they didn’t have it in stock. This was a problem: My little girl was all fired up to play that day, and she’s a handful when she wants something.

But inside Walmart, at the spot where the basketball hoop should have been, there was a sign that told me I could have the whole thing delivered to my driveway within 48 hours. All I had to do was open the Walmart app, order the hoop — no fees attached — and head back home. I purchased my daughter the basketball and showed her a picture of the hoop that was on its way. The hoop even came early, and I didn’t have to lug the gear to my car — a monster success in my book.

The story of this one store visit and how it synced up with my smartphone and the digital world is actually a snapshot of the m-commerce future we’re watching unfold. It’s a future my own company is building toward, one that we’ve made a part of some of our mobile ad offerings, but it’s also one that’s expanding faster than ever before. In my opinion, we should be giving m-commerce more attention in the months and quarters to come. 

Brands And M-Commerce: Changing The Game

E-commerce is the overall online transactional universe, but m-commerce is the part of e-commerce that’s now reaching us in places like on my mobile screen in the aisle at Walmart and when we’re out in the real world, in ways that minimize the effort required to make a purchase happen.

It’s not just me — consumers love this capability. Salesforce predicts that m-commerce will drive 68% of all e-commerce this holiday season. Beyond traffic, down at the order level, the same report estimates that about half the purchases will be m-commerce conversions.

If you’re just getting into the game, then skip the desktop, leapfrog everyone and build and innovate on the mobile phone for 2022, not 2019. By my estimate of looking at current trends and growth stats, we are witnessing significant changes in advertising within that timeframe.

It doesn’t have to be in-app, but when it is, the possibilities are outsized compared to the web. As CustomerThink recently explained, retailers can build new in-app m-commerce experiences with the help of near-field communications, prompting on-device experiences when in close proximity to a product; QR codes to scan and interact at the point of sale; and with purchase buttons that coincide with chatbots, augmented reality and other on-screen moments.

At a more basic level, brands looking to build and optimize for m-commerce should be leaning into what the in-app buy button approach already helps ensure. For example, brands should be simplifying the cart experience, avoiding multiscreen checkouts and streamlining to match the user’s experience — one that’s in the moment, inspired by the creative and that doesn’t interrupt or slow down the impulse buy with too many steps.

These are some examples of how to approach m-commerce, and I’ll point out some brand-specific ones in the next section. But it’s also important to note that the experiences we’re talking about right now will seem simple compared to what the speed and power of our apps deliver once 5G is up and running.

The M-Commerce Future: Shopping’s New Normal

By 2022, I predict that most advertising will be digital and most digital ads will be mobile. Based on what I’m seeing in the industry now, I believe the majority of mobile advertising will be in-app and utilize the power and consumer engagement benefits of real-time location, and most e-commerce will be mobile. Granted, those are my own predictions based on what I see and evaluate while looking at the digital marketing space. The bottom line is that change is coming fast. 

For example, McDonald’s is already succeeding at m-commerce innovation with its new emphasis on in-app ordering, payment and delivery. Mobile Marketer notes a 20%–40% leap in the company’s app usage, plus a 3% same-store sales lift quarter over quarter. Home Depot is also getting in on m-commerce: Customers can now use the company’s in-app augmented reality and store-wayfinding capabilities, among other features, and the brand is now seeing a 26% purchase volume increase attached to online sales, Digiday reports.

M-commerce is changing our entire understanding of what inventory, customer intent and purchase incentive can mean. With 90% of consumer time on mobile spent in apps, giving users the power to make choices is nothing less than the future, a key strategy for capturing the $3.56 trillion in annual global m-commerce spend that’s coming our way.

After all the brick-and-mortar panic of the past several years, it’s as if the world is now waking up to new ways that digital and physical can not only coexist but complement each other’s best features. The call is clear: When it comes to m-commerce, the time is now.


Tom Kenney is CEO at Verve.

This article first appeared at Forbes.

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