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How to succeed in m-commerce

Young woman shops on her smartphone

For retailers and consumers, mobile matters more than ever before. Apps are becoming a favored channel for online shopping, and m-commerce is expected to become a $250 billion market by 2020. As a result, it’s vitally important that businesses ensure their e-commerce fulfillment strategy meets changing consumer expectations driven by the immediacy of mobile shopping.

Why is m-commerce growing in popularity?
There are numerous drivers behind the growth of m-commerce. First, mobile internet usage now consistently outpaces desktop usage. According to StatCounter, as of 2016 more people are accessing the internet via mobile devices than desktop computers.

The convenience of mobile devices suits the buying habits of online shoppers, while the accessibility of smartphones makes it easy to quickly find products and make a purchase on the run. “Consumers have 24/7 access to their smartphones and utilize them consistently for both browsing and buying,” says Louis DeJianne, director of retail strategy at UPS. “It’s an always-on world now.”

The increased user-friendliness of mobile devices is another significant factor. The average smartphone display size has grown in recent years, and phablets (smartphones with a screen size of 5.5 inches to 7 inches) are poised to overtake regular smartphone shipments by 2019, according to research from the IDC.

Finally, the normalization of mobile apps, mobile-optimized websites and mobile-dedicated websites has made mobile shopping significantly easier for consumers, helping to cement m-commerce as a staple of the retail landscape. With almost half (48 percent) of smartphone users using their devices to shop online, as noted in the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ study, it’s clear that the ubiquity of smartphones is continuing to power the growth of m-commerce.

How can your business succeed in an m-commerce world?
Here are seven steps your business can take to address consumer mobile demands and thrive in the booming m-commerce landscape:

  1. Create a custom-made, content-rich mobile app. Online shoppers tend to use apps because they’re faster, more convenient and more user-friendly than retailer websites. Without an app, you may be missing out on a large and untapped customer segment: as many as four in five smartphone users have accessed retailer apps, while one in three always/often use them. According to the UPS study, the top five app features to consider are high-quality product images, mobile coupons, product reviews, a product search that provides relevant results, and access to loyalty points. Video also is becoming a great way for businesses to communicate with m-consumers.
  2. Optimize your retail website for mobile users. A responsive design that makes it easy for people to research, purchase and complete pre- and post-purchase tasks on their smartphones will provide an optimal mobile shopping experience.
  3. Streamline the checkout process. According to a recent study by Addressy, mobile shoppers will desert their cart if the checkout experience is flawed. Be sure to minimize the number of steps between when the customer clicks “buy” and their order gets processed. You can also include “buy with confidence” builders and provide a range of payment options. Working with established brands like PayPal will help to build trust.
  4. Carefully orchestrate the post-purchase experience. The ability to execute returns and re-direct shipments on their smartphones is extremely important to mobile shoppers. In addition, providing real-time tracking and shipping notifications for mobile can improve the mobile shopping experience and keep customers coming back.
  5. Integrate the mobile and in-store retail experience whenever possible. By making the mobile interface and brick-and-mortar store feel cohesive, you can offer a genuinely omnichannel retail experience. “Consumers are on their mobile devices as they’re shopping, so the integration of the store and the mobile app is already occurring,” says DeJianne. Shoppers who use their smartphones in store are comparing prices, taking advantage of promotions and accessing coupons. This presents plenty of opportunities for in-store marketing, with three in 10 smartphone users receptive to in-store messaging. For example, beacon technology, which is on the rise, can enable retailers to communicate with in-store shoppers through their smartphones and promote products as customers browse.
  6. Implement a dynamic delivery strategy. Provide delivery time window options, as well as multiple delivery options at checkout. You should also consider the situational needs of your customers. If someone needs a new dress delivered immediately, they may be willing to pay more, while other shoppers will value low-cost or free delivery over speed. Providing options can help you satisfy all types of shoppers.
  7. Utilize technology and APIs. The right software solutions can improve e-commerce fulfillment, providing a smooth experience for your customers. “Our UPS Ready® Program or APIs (Application Program Interfaces) can be utilized to show a scheduled delivery date and to provide shipping options from next day air through ground services. UPS also offers technologies that allow you to more easily facilitate a mobile return,” says DeJianne.

What does the future of m-commerce look like?
According to DeJianne, in the future, we’ll see a greater emphasis on app-commerce. “Apps will continue to evolve to provide the customer experience, but there will also be efforts to make mobile websites more dynamic,” DeJianne says.

With the advent of value-added push notifications, location-based proximity marketing and personalized offers, apps will become not only a channel for online shopping, but a direct way to communicate with customers, giving you a better opportunity to deepen your consumer relationships and improve public perception of your business.

According to research from Localytics, targeted push notifications can improve app engagement by as much as 171 percent, indicating that personalized, data-driven customer engagement could loom large in the future of mobile commerce.

You can also expect to see increasingly widespread adoption of m-commerce among younger buyers. According to a recent white paper from Bronto, as many as 92 percent of millennials have made a purchase with their mobile phone, while Gen Xers and baby boomers are rapidly adjusting their shopping habits to include mobile.

By providing mobile buyers with a user-friendly, streamlined experience, you can meet customer expectations and position your business for success within the m-commerce landscape.

Read more about how mobile is changing the retail landscape in the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper.

Download the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study here

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