Getting the Most from the m-commerce Market

How changes in mobile phone use is impacting on business

12/03/2014 Barcelona


Some 40% of Google searches are made through mobile devices, 30% from mobile phones and 10% from tablets and iPads. Last year was the first in which sales of mobile phones with Internet exceeded sales of those without. Mobile is the present. We’re moving towards a multi-screen world. This is not only due to the use of smart phones but also to tablets and to everything which falls under the heading of ‘the Internet of things’: glasses, watches, bracelets, contact lenses, connected cars. With these observations, Fuencisla Clemares, Director of Retail Sales, Technology and Classified Advertising at Google Spain opened the session on mobile Internet. “I’m mobile, therefore I am,” she said.

New ways of shopping

Mobile devices are changing everything in our lives, the way we communicate, the way we seek information, the way we conduct our relationships and, of course, how we shop. It’s a great opportunity for companies because they work very well for sales. But to get the most out of them, we have to be clear that purchases made through mobiles (m-commerce) has its own rules: 

  • Showrooming. In the beginning, users looked for information about a product on the Internet but would then purchase it in shops. However, now increasingly the opposite is happening; consumers will look at and test a product in a shop and will then end up buying it on the Internet, where they can find it cheaper.
  • From mobile to shop. It has been demonstrated that people use their mobiles to find out information about sales outlets more than they use their desktop computer. When a user is on the move, they need a different sort of information from that which they would look for on a computer. In general, it needs to be simpler and better adapted to their specific location. 
  • From mobile to tablet and desktop computer. Understanding how people consume via their mobile devices involves the cross-device effect. A person may move from one device to another up to 27 times in a single day. Keeping track of the consumer when they change terminals is difficult and is one of the great challenges that m-commerce faces (especially in regard to metrics). But in order to turn a search into a transaction, it is key to understand how people arrive at the decision to buy. 
  • From mobile to call center. We use mobile phones for such a variety of purposes that at times it seems we’ve forgotten that it was invented to make calls. The sales potential of the mobile phone is not always exploited. Something as simple as activating the click-to-call (the direct call button that appears, for example, when looking for a restaurant) greatly increases the possibility of closing a deal.

Tablet or smartphone?

According to Clemares, many companies are still not getting into m-commerce “because they believe that the conversion rate on mobile is lower than it is on computers.” But that’s not what those who have adapted their strategies to online marketing and the new rules imposed by mobility of the potential buyer are saying.

As for the difference between smart phones and tablets, Clemares says that devices such as the iPad have higher conversion rates than mobile phones, as well being an important source of increased purchasing. On the other hand, mobile phones offer other advantages, such as loyalty and retaining clients.

Three keys to m-commerce success

When a company decides to move from e-commerce to m-commerce the first doubts arise over whether to adapt the website for mobile or design a specific application.

According to Luís Ferrándiz, a partner in the digital marketing agency ADN, both options are valid. In order to choose the best one in each case, you have to be clear about who your target market is and where your business is in the cycle. In general, applications attract people who are already clients and they work for businesses that are already consolidated; whereas responsive websites are recommended for companies that need to connect with more potential clients, in addition to the ones they already have.

Whatever the chosen option, Ferrándiz recommends that these three key aspects be borne in mind:

  1. Construct excellent assets
    Content, usability and functionality are indispensable for the success of any online marketing strategy and even more so when it comes to mobility, because the user’s interactions with a mobile device is more frequent but also shorter, one minute on average. He also suggested using few and very direct messages, large and visible buttons (think touchscreen!), situating the user and always allowing them to go back to the previous page, and using short and simple formulas (for example, integrating the social networks which simplify identification). 
  2. Generates business through advertising
    In order to generate traffic, marketing strategies should be adapted to the mobile context; for example, by generating traffic to the call center during the working day. Advertising strategies based on cost per click (CPC) and the cost for every thousand printed should also be adapted to mobile. 
  3. Developing a multichannel attribution
    Multichannel measuring is a priority and a growing one, given the cross-device effect and the user’s interaction with online and off-line environments. In this respect, Ferrándiz recommends working to obtain appropriate metrics and to dedicate efforts to both follow-up calls and to the impact of existing m-commerce on shops.

Anyone interested in having a deeper understanding of multichannel digital strategies should not miss the 1st E-commerce Meeting which IESE is organizing in Barcelona, on May 14th.