mobile commerce

Mobile Commerce: What M-Commerce Means for Marketing

RJ Licata, Sr. Director of Marketing

Key Points

  • Mobile commerce (also known as m-commerce) refers to any commercial transaction that takes place through a mobile device such as smartphones or tablets.
  • From 2016 to 2021, the mobile commerce share of total ecommerce has increased 39.1%, from 52.4% to 72.9%.
  • Brands can improve mobile commerce performance by delivering an exceptional mobile experience, optimizing their website for organic search, and offering multiple payment methods.

In 2020, there were 4.28 billion mobile internet users, meaning that more than 90% of people who use the internet did so with a mobile device.

These individuals posted on social media, read the news, and watched movies. But their behavior extended beyond entertainment. They also bought and sold things through mobile commerce.

Ecommerce changed where we purchase our products. Mobile commerce transformed how we purchase them.


In 2020, there were 4.28 billion mobile internet users


Read on to learn what mobile commerce is, current trends, and how you can improve m-commerce performance.

What is mobile commerce?


Mobile Commerce (M-commerce)

Mobile commerce (also known as m-commerce) refers to any transaction that takes place through a mobile device such as smartphones or tablets. It includes ecommerce, but also goes far beyond it.

Examples of mobile commerce

Generally speaking, there are three primary types of m-commerce:

  • Mobile Shopping: Includes buying things through ecommerce websites, dedicated shopping apps (both Android and iOS apps), social media platforms, and marketplaces.
  • Mobile Banking: Usually occurs through a dedicated mobile app. Online banking m-commerce applications allow users to directly make deposits, pay bills, and initiate mobile money transfers with the use of mobile devices.
  • And Mobile Payments: Includes both the ability to make payments online, as well as contactless payments offline in brick and mortar locations. Think Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc. These mobile applications are often called “digital wallets” or “mobile wallets”, and they work like credit cards or debit cards.

eMarketer forecasts a market volume of $3.5 trillion globally in 2021


M-commerce made up 72.9% of 2021 ecommerce sales


Americans spend 234 minutes per day on mobile devices


The number of mobile users is projected to increase significantly throughout the 2020s. Furthermore, eMarketer forecasts a market volume of over $3.5 trillion globally in 2021 alone. So, it’s fair to say that mobile commerce isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s likely to represent a much larger chunk of retail sales going forward due to the impact of the pandemic.

Mobile commerce share in total ecommerce sales has been steadily increasing. From 2016 to 2021, the m-commerce share of total ecommerce increased 39.1%, from 52.4% to 72.9%.

In other words, almost 3/4 of all commercial transactions made online are completed on a mobile device.

In the United States, people spend an average of 234 minutes per day on mobile devices, up from 188 minutes in 2016.

What’s driving m-commerce growth? While there certainly are numerous factors, two of the biggest are decreasing costs of mobile devices and widespread availability of fast cellular data networks.

Income levels also play a role in mobile commerce trends. With lower income consumers likely to have fewer credit cards and other traditional banking solutions, mobile devices are often the only way they can make an online purchase.

In addition, when consumers were faced with more restrictions and greater hurdles to shopping at brick and mortar stores in person due to the pandemic, mobile commerce presented an opportunity for more convenient shopping.

This post has more statistics about SEO and user search behavior.

Advantages of mobile commerce

There are numerous mobile commerce advantages, both for brands and consumers, that business owners should pay attention to.

Increase ecommerce sales

Perhaps the most obvious benefit for brands is an increase in ecommerce sales. In many cases, mobile commerce is far more convenient for customers than purchasing on a desktop.

With just a few taps on a mobile phone, they can purchase just about anything in a matter of minutes. And with the integration of payment methods (like Apple Pay or Fast) that don’t require consumers to enter their credit card information, the process is even faster and easier.

Additionally, platforms like Instagram and Facebook now let brands sell directly through their apps, further expanding the reach of electronic commerce. That means users can make a purchase right from their cell phones while browsing their social media feed, removing the friction of sending them to another website.

The result? Higher mobile commerce sales.

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A true omnichannel experience

Mobile marketing also provides consumers with a true omnichannel experience at every step of the buying journey. A consumer can research products on their mobile device, come into a store and test them out, and then purchase either in the store or online.

Augmented reality mobile commerce apps, like those utilized by Sephora or Ikea, make it even easier for customers to research and “test” products without ever leaving home. And chatbots and messenger apps allow brands to engage with their audience on apps and platforms that their customers already use.

As a result, the digital customer experience is in sync with the in-store experience.

M-commerce allows brands to be wherever their customers are. It enables companies to give customers an unparalleled online shopping experience and also provides brands with new avenues for marketing and customer engagement.

Ways to improve mobile commerce performance

Your website might be optimized for mobile devices, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s optimized for mobile commerce. As Dynamic Yield notes:

  • Only about one in eight consumers finds shopping on mobile websites convenient
  • When asked, consumers are four times more likely to say that shopping online from a desktop is more convenient than a mobile website

Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to mobile commerce. Here are some key strategies for improvement.

Deliver an exceptional mobile experience

First and foremost, focus on delivering an exceptional mobile customer experience. Many companies are concentrating on a mobile-first web experience. In other words, their mobile sites often look different than their desktop ones and pages are specifically designed to accommodate the unique challenges of mobile browsing. Companies that do this often see a bump in conversion rates since the mobile user experience can be smoother for customers.

Every page should be easy to use, and navigation should be simple and intuitive. Text and images should be easily viewable, without the need to zoom in on anything. The mobile checkout experience should require as few steps as possible and multiple payment options should be available.

The better mobile experience you give customers, the more likely they’ll keep coming back.

Organic search drives a huge amount of mobile commerce, with 46% of product searches beginning on Google. In light of this, it’s absolutely essential to optimize your website for mobile organic search.

Various ways that you can optimize your site for mobile search include:

  • Employ responsive web design
  • Use a clear site structure
  • Optimize for non-branded keywords to expand your customer base
  • Incorporate long-tail keywords
  • Target the entire conversion funnel with SEO
  • Add relevant and useful content to your category pages
  • Optimize product pages
  • Create high-value digital content
  • Strategically use internal links

Understand Google’s mobile-first index

Google’s mobile-first index means that indexing and ranking are now primarily based upon a site’s mobile version rather than desktop version.

To ensure that you rank as high as possible in search results, Google recommends the following best practices

  • Make sure that Googlebot can access and render your content
  • Make sure that content is the same on desktop and mobile
  • If you have structured data on your site, make sure that it’s present on both versions of your site
  • Put the same metadata on both versions of your site
  • Follow the Better Ads Standard when displaying ads on mobile devices
  • Ensure that images and videos render well on mobile devices

Ultimately, Google just wants to ensure that mobile users have a good experience when they click on a search result and end up on your site. Implementing Google’s recommendations not only improves your search rankings, but also provides a better mobile ecommerce experience for your customers.

Use structured data markup

Structured data markup is a way to embed structured data into your web pages in order to help search engines better understand what the pages are about.

For example, the “product” markup adds specific data related to products, like description, price, reviews, shipping details, special offers, etc. Not only does this help Google better understand that particular page, but Google will often display structured data directly within search results. When this happens, it expands your real estate in the search results page and significantly increases the chances that someone will click on that product.

Use structured data wherever possible to get more clicks and ultimately more sales.

Google product image search that has schema markup


Accelerate page load speed and improve Google Core Web Vitals

Page load speed and Google Core Web Vitals are important for both search engine optimization and mobile commerce experience. Page speed is a measure of how quickly web pages are loaded. Google Core Web Vitals (CWV) is a set of metrics used to determine page quality and gauge people’s experience with pages on your website.

The metric takes into account three page speed and interaction factors:

  • Largest Contentful Paint
  • First Input Delay
  • Cumulative Layout Shift

Part of creating a superior experience for users is that pages load and can be used quickly. Google wants to measure how quickly users can interact with your content. When a user clicks on a search result and experiences a long load time, this creates a bad experience for the user. There have been many studies done through the years demonstrating how a slow loading page negatively affects conversions.

The Enhancements section of Google Search Console will show you how your pages are performing in terms of page speed and Core Web Vitals, and provide actionable recommendations for improvements. Start by identifying the important pages that are performing poorly so you can improve them first. Once those have been improved, move on to others.

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Spoken-word searches are becoming a larger piece of the mobile commerce pie. In fact, it’s projected that voice search will drive $40 billion dollars in sales by 2022.

So, how can you effectively optimize your site for voice search?

  • Focus on improving your page speed times. Voice search is more conversational and if pages take too long to load, Google won’t rank them high enough in voice search.
  • Create succinct answers to questions. Your content needs to reflect the fact that voice searches are heavily question driven.
  • Use long tail keywords that reflect the way people actually speak.
  • Keep your content simple and jargon-free. Voice assistants might not always understand complicated words.

Optimize images and videos

Images and videos need to be optimized so that they load quickly and display properly on mobile devices. This is a tricky line to walk. On the one hand, you want images and videos to look good and be attractive to consumers. On the other hand, they have the potential to dramatically slow down page speed or disrupt the m-commerce experience if they don’t display correctly.

Compression tools like TinyJPG or Optimole can help you compress images so that they load faster without losing any quality.

Other ways to optimize images and videos include:

  • Place images near relevant text
  • Include descriptive titles, captions, filenames, and text to provide context
  • Use descriptive image alt text

Implement user-friendly navigation

Given the smaller screen size of handheld devices, your site should be easy to navigate. Logically organize your content with faceted navigation or intuitive design so customers can quickly find exactly what they want.

Use breadcrumbs to help users pinpoint their location at any moment. They also make it easier for visitors to return to a section without having to smash the back button repeatedly.

Make contact information and FAQ pages easy to locate. If your customers tend to have lots of questions, you may also want to implement a live chat functionality to address concerns on the fly.

Offer multiple payment methods

In addition to accepting standard credit cards, offer alternatives, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Samsung Pay, Venmo, Fast, or other app payments. Some companies have even begun accepting cryptocurrencies as they gain widespread acceptance throughout the world.

Offering multiple payment methods for m-commerce reduces friction and could be one method to optimize conversion rates. Also, different shoppers have different preferences and shopping behaviors.

Use retargeting

Retargeting allows you to reach people who have expressed an interest in your product or service through various actions but then abandoned your website. For instance, someone might search for a product on Google, visit your website, or put an item in their shopping cart in your online store, but then leave the site prior to making an actual purchase.

Retargeting allows you to amplify your digital marketing efforts for better results. For example, an individual might find your site on the internet through a Google search. With retargeting, you can follow them around the internet with ads designed to keep bringing them back to your site and eventually purchase.

Retargeting can be done via search, site, or email.

Use push notifications

Push notifications are another useful way to reach a segment of m-commerce customers. You can use them to target people within a certain distance of a store or at certain times of the day when they’re more likely to be ready to buy from you.

You can also use push notifications to alert customers of new products and promotions before you advertise them. This creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity, keeping users engaged.

Learn to think “mobile”

If your business model involves selling online, then you need to invest in m-commerce.

Consumers expect a seamless shopping experience across the board, regardless of whether it happens in a store, on a desktop computer, or on a mobile device. By optimizing the mobile commerce experience, you generate positive customer touch points, stoke brand loyalty, and position yourself well for the future.

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