A Comparison Between eCommerce and mCommerce

Lilla Stefanovszky

As the access to the internet and the adoption of digitalization increases, we can’t overlook the fact that selling and purchasing goods and services online has become an all-important part of our everyday lives and the global retail landscape. As a result, the number of digital buyers is also increasing rapidly year on year. According to Statista, in 2020 there were over 2 billion people who purchased goods or services online and retailers made more than 4.2 trillion USD online.

As the use of mobile devices is also on the growth, due to the fact that they tend to be cheaper compared to computers, the share of mCommerce is also on the rise. So much that in 2021, mCommerce is projected to account for 72.9% of all the eCommerce sales made by the end of the year. For this reason, it is crucial for business owners that are conducting business online to know the definitions and differences between eCommerce and mCommerce and reap the benefits of both approaches in order to bring the best out of their business.

The definition of eCommerce and mCommerce

Both eCommerce and mCommerce are aimed to make customer’s lives easier and allow businesses to target a market wider than what their geographical location would allow. An easy way to define these two types of business approaches is to look at eCommerce as an umbrella term that includes all purchases made through the internet. In contrast, mCommerce or mobile commerce stands for only those purchases that have been made through a mobile device or a tablet, which are only a part of the total eCommerce sales. Despite their similar purpose, we will go through many differences between the two in the next section.

The main differences between eCommerce and mCommerce

Although shopping on a computer versus on a mobile phone or tablet has the same principle, there are key differences that need to be discussed and considered by business owners.

Platforms used to make purchases

The first and most obtrusive difference between eCommerce and mCommerce is the platforms that are used by the consumer to make a purchase. When we are talking about eCommerce, we refer to those purchases that are made in a browser window on a company’s website via a desktop. While mCommerce purchases can be made through either a company’s website and also through apps designed by a specific retailer or those which are provided by online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay on a mobile or a tablet.

Reachability of the consumers

With eCommerce, you can reach customers at times when they are actively using the internet for browsing, social media, or looking for products and services online. On the other hand, as mCommerce doesn’t only include shopping on the internet but from a mobile device, it also includes applications and purchases made through them. With the use of applications, you can reach a wider audience through push notifications even when they are not actively using the internet and are on the go.

Mobility while shopping

Both eCommerce and mCommerce offer higher mobility for shoppers compared to brick-and-mortar stores as they can make their purchases anywhere outside of the physical store and also any time around the clock when it’s convenient for them. However, mCommerce offers even higher mobility as consumers can make a purchase as long as they are connected to the internet with their mobile device. Also, mobile apps are designed to facilitate the purchasing process with only a few taps. Additionally, they are likely to support payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay where customers don’t even need to pull out their cards to make the purchase. On the other hand, eCommerce is done either on a desktop computer or a laptop where consumers have to find a place and take the time to make a purchase.

Mobile shopping on the go

Location tracking capabilities

When you are looking at eCommerce, you can quickly realize that the location tracking capabilities of this sales channel are limited as the devices are bound to a certain location or a limited number of locations in the case of a laptop. Meanwhile, mCommerce applications can track and identify the device’s location using GPS and Wi-Fi networks. With location tracking, mCommerce apps can target the movement of consumers and provide location-specific content and personalized recommendations. Although mCommerce is providing you with a great opportunity to track your consumers, you will need your consent at all times to do this. Some consumers are just not feeling comfortable if their location is tracked so they don’t allow this after downloading the mobile app. As a result, this takes away the advantage mCommerce could have with location tracking.

Ease and speed of use

Due to the size of the screen of mobile devices and the way they are intended to be used, businesses try to make both their mobile websites and applications as easily shoppable as possible. Oftentimes it only takes a couple of taps to select the items and check out the content of the cart within minutes when shopping through a mobile app. At the same time, it’s generally harder to navigate on the website of a retailer when it is viewed on the go. Although this allows the retailer to display more information on the screen that the consumer is looking at, it can also overwhelm the shopper and result in abandoned carts. On the other side, if they are visiting the website from a desktop computer or a laptop they would find everything neatly laid out.

Security

When it comes to online shopping, we can all agree that security is an essential factor for both eCommerce and mCommerce purchases. While doing eCommerce, shopping consumers mainly rely on the security capabilities of the website and their internet connection. Despite the multi-level authentication while paying by credit cards, some consumers are still afraid of entering their card details over the internet while making a purchase. On the other hand, mCommerce has a more extensive security capability when it comes to online purchases. While shopping through a mobile app, you are not only protected by the operating system of your device and the security of your network, but payments don’t necessarily require your credit card information. As most mCommerce applications are accepting Apple Pay or Google Pay, you can use biometric authentication such as face ID, fingerprint, and retina scans that are proven to be more secure than entering the numbers on your credit card.

Benefits of mCommerce

Establishing and growing your mCommerce strategy can widely benefit your business. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages you can gain and see why mCommerce should become a part of your sales strategy.

Customer engagement and personalization

By having an optimized mobile version of your store, a mobile application, or making your Facebook or Instagram feed shoppable, you can interact with your customers in a more personalized manner.

When it comes to mobile apps with the use of beacon technologies or near-field communication, you can directly interact with your customers while they are spending time in your physical store. These sensors are placed on shelves and displays and can detect nearby mobile devices. Based on the location of your customers within the store, you can provide them a personalized shopping experience. This can be done through tailored promotional activities but customers can also signal you if their size is missing from a certain product and get a push notification through the app once it is restocked.

When it comes to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, their algorithm allows users to see content that they are likely to be the most interested in. If you focus on building your audience and engaging with them through Facebook and Instagram mobile apps, you can reach potential customers with fairly tailored content that encourages them to shop what they see on the images. This way you are not only banking new sales but also providing your customers with valuable content that further increases their perceived value of your brand and products.

Improving in-store customer experience

Most consumers who prefer shopping in a brick-and-mortar store are still not fans of standing in lines and waiting for checkout. In our fast-paced world today, time is one of the most valuable assets people have, hence we naturally want to get through the daily errands as fast as possible. Amazon Go is a prime example of how you can enhance the customer experience in a not-so-traditional brick-and-mortar store. With the help of Artificial Intelligence and mobile applications, customers can simply scan themselves when entering the store and start shopping. Their virtual basket will then be automatically updated based on what they are taking off or putting back on the shelves. Once they are done shopping, their virtual cart will automatically check out and deduct the funds from their online wallets while leaving the store.

A similar solution can not only lower the time customers are spending on shopping but can also reduce the costs associated with staffing. When there is an online checkout available through a mobile version of the store or a designed mobile application, store owners wouldn’t need to worry about setting uptilts and hiring cashiers as the whole payment process will be automated. Also, these apps can serve as customer service as well. They can provide a map of the shopfloor to ensure customers find what they are looking for at all times. Moreover, they can offer product recommendations of complementary products that are usually bought together which not only enhances the shopping experience but can potentially help the business to get rid of overstock inventory.

Benefits of eCommerce

On the other hand, eCommerce also has its benefits that should be taken into consideration when planning your strategy for increasing sales through online presence.

Shopping via laptop

First point of entry

When you are operating a traditional brick-and-mortar business, your first point of entry to the digital world of doing business is likely to be eCommerce. Online stores are around for quite some time now and people are used to them already. This is also true when it comes to creating one. Nowadays we have CMSs (Content Management Systems) that facilitate the fast and relatively easy creation and maintenance of eCommerce sites even for those who are not familiar with programming.

Moreover, you can also buy turnkey eCommerce stores that are ready-built and already loaded with products, so you just need to get it live and see your orders coming in. In contrast, when you want to introduce a mobile app to the mix to take advantage of the opportunities of mCommerce it can end up rather costly. A complex shopping app that also adds value to the customer can cost tens of thousands of dollars to get developed by a professional.

To sum up

As the mCommerce market is gaining an increasing share of the total global eCommerce purchases, your business will surely benefit from expanding to the mCommerce sphere beyond only having a responsive website. If you have enough capital to invest in a mobile app for your store, we highly recommend you doing so. But if you are not in the position just yet, it might be a good idea to not only sell your products through your website but also set up a seller’s account with one of the biggest online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. This way your shop and products will be available through their apps as well. Also, do not forget that not only applications are considered as mCommerce. You can utilize some of the benefits by solely using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

About the Author


Lilla Stefanovszky
Fashion marketing professional turned digital marketer. My name is Lilla and I have been working in the fashion industry for 5 years. Currently working at BrandsGateway and helping with the development of the marketing strategy and on occasions writing articles for our audience. When away form the computer, I enjoy outdoors and running with my dogs.

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