Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Daniel Matthews who is a writer with a passion for tech and business.
Just like consumers, brands are facing a lot of choices when it comes to e-commerce. Consumers have multiple sites, apps, and brands from which to choose. Brands have a myriad of ways to reach consumers. Is optimizing your site, and letting it speak for itself, enough? If not, how should you concentrate your efforts? Social media marketing? SEO? Emails? Pay-per-click? Should you have a broad approach, or is it best to specialize, with an acute funnel to conversions based on target audience?
One thing is certain: the future of e-commerce is mobile. Mobile devices are going to capture more conversions than anything we’ve experienced before. Here’s a breakdown of what that looks like:
- In the third quarter of 2014, tablets and smartphones had a combined conversion rate of 3.22%, compared with 2.8% for laptops and computers
- In 2015, smartphone conversions alone went up by 59% from 2014, totaling $13 billion, and accounting for 18% of online sales
- Mobile payments will skyrocket 154% by 2019
- Ohio University projects the mobile payment industry will reach $189 billion in revenue in 2018; according to Goldman Sachs, in 2018 mobile commerce will yield $626 billion in sales
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No matter how people find your brand, there’s a good chance they’ll do so on a mobile device. If you’re optimized for mobile, there’s a good chance they’ll choose to make purchases on that device, too.
Just as there are multiple marketing strategies for e-commerce, there are multiple strategies when it comes to mobile commerce platforms. The three main strategies are:
- Develop a mobile application
- Develop an e-commerce site optimized for mobile
- Develop an e-commerce site with Responsive Web Design
Along with the popularity of mobile commerce, the popularity of mobile apps has done nothing but rise. According to University of Alabama at Birmingham, by 2017 apps will generate 268 billion downloads and $77 billion in revenue. Commerce and shopping apps are the fifth most popular type of smartphone app, and 2017 will see in-app purchases making up 48% of app store revenue.
While these numbers are impressive, they’re centered on smartphone applications. The Goldman Sachs report I cited earlier estimates that the majority of mobile commerce will come from tablets. We’re talking $453 billion from tablets, vs $173 billion in sales from smartphones.
According to Appnovation, the top three activities people do on tablets are:
- Read news and entertainment
- Search for info
- Watch videos
Whereas on smartphones people are more likely to search for local info and do social networking, tablets are more likely to lead them to blogs and articles on your site, which can then funnel them to sales pages. This is part of why Goldman sees tablets taking such a big piece of the mobile commerce pie.
No one says you shouldn’t do both a mobile-friendly site and a smartphone app. If you want to capture a part of the huge chunk of commerce in the pipeline for tablets and smartphones, a mobile-friendly site is a great place to start.
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Responsive Web Design or mobile optimization
According to the Appnovation article I cite above, two-thirds of mobile users want a site to load in less than four seconds. Four seconds! In order for that to happen, your site can take advantage of Responsive Web Design (RWD)—or you can optimize it for a specific mobile platform.
The advantage of RWD is versatility. While a site optimized for Android will look fantastic when you reach it through Chrome, it won’t achieve the same results through iOS and Safari.
Google’s AMP and Facebook’s Instant Articles
Recently, Google rolled out Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and Facebook is due to respond by making Instant Articles widely available.
Compelling content is a huge part of driving e-commerce conversions. Besides creating the content, another piece to the puzzle is making sure content shows up ahead in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Facebook’s Instant Articles used to only be available to certain partner publishers. But since so many people access Facebook via mobile, it only makes sense to allow other sites in on Instant Articles. This will be a big source of ad revenue for Facebook, and e-commerce traffic for brands. April 2016 will see the roll out.
Developing an app is part of a comprehensive mobile strategy. You can choose to develop three different types of apps:
Native Apps: People can download natives from app stores and they’re platform-specific; they’re more expensive and time-consuming to develop than mobile apps
Clearly, hybrid apps offer an advantage in terms of flexibility. To make your app, you can use a DIY app maker, or hire a developer. The DIY option will be less expensive, it’s highly customizable, and can yield superb results. Developers, on the other hand, cost more but offer expertise, save you time, and offer a higher level of intensive customer service.
The Advantage of Mobile
Prioritizing your mobile commerce experience will put your brand in the hands of an ever-increasing audience. When people can tell you care about their mobile experience, they’re more likely to buy from you on their smartphone or tablet. With Responsive Web Design, Google’s AMP, Facebook’s Instant Articles, and an app, you’ll be that much closer to getting the most out of mobile for your business.
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About the author
Daniel Matthews is a writer and musician from Boise, with a passion for writing on topics ranging from tech, culture, travel, business, and current affairs in the world right now. You can find on him on Twitter @danielmatthews0.