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Mobile commerce is no longer a commodity for retailers and businesses to utilize to set themselves apart – it’s the standard. E-commerce has evolved rapidly since it exploded onto the scene with the arrival of sites like eBay and Amazon in the mid-90s. First, consumers sat comfortably in their home and enjoyed the freedom of purchasing things they needed from their home computers. Now, however, purchases and decisions can be made on the go, in a snappy and quick fashion, thanks to the many different apps providing e-commerce options at every consumer’s fingertips.
This system can either be a boon or a detriment for VARs and end-users, depending on how it’s utilized. If an e-commerce platform is rough and unwieldy, or causes the customer confusion on how to shop smoothly, they may seek other outlets for the same products. However, a well-executed e-commerce platform can increase revenue, customer satisfaction, global reach, and brand awareness.
Nielson’s 2016 Global Connected Commerce report states that 57 percent of polled individuals from all over the world purchased from an e-tailer outside their country’s borders in the last 6 months. Western Europe and India are high on the bell-curve of these statistics, with 79 percent of Italian shoppers looking outside their borders for e-commerce, and 74 percent of Indian shoppers following suit. For VARs who operate outside of the United States, this information highlights critical markets that are looking, through the aid of e-commerce, to other nations to provide the goods they need.
Additionally, there’s a hidden, underserved mobile e-commerce market that’s not being tapped – ironically, those lacking in strong internet accessibility. Only 52 percent of shoppers in the U.K. shopped outside their borders – a statistic that’s likely affected by the fact that 32 percent of respondents said their internet connection was not stable enough for them to feel an online transaction was trustworthy. Mobile e-commerce is critical here, providing stronger online capabilities, more reliable connectivity, and, if the platform is solid, a smoother transaction overall.
Turning to the U.S. markets, mobile e-commerce has consistently been on the rise for years. However, there’s no better indication of the patterns of shoppers than looking to the holiday season. During the 2015 Black Friday weekend, IBM reported that 57 percent of shopping, including during Cyber Monday, was done on a mobile platform. This is up roughly 15 percent from 2014 – a significant increase.
Statistically, it’s impossible to deny the influence that mobile shopping has on businesses, from Value-Added Resellers to retail businesses, to the hospitality industry. There’s an app for everything today – want to find an affordable hotel room at a moment’s notice? Shopping for a new home? Need a ride? There are thriving companies that provide apps and e-commerce options for any of those needs, and then some.
However, this by no means shows that brick and mortar facilities are in trouble. In fact, customers often will browse online from the comfort of their home, but venture into a retail location to make a purchase in-person – particularly for high-priced items. This further emphasizes the need for a smooth and functional mobile e-commerce platform. If consumers are pre-shopping online, the options available at a company without an e-commerce platform won’t even be considered, let alone purchased.
Companies lacking in mobile e-commerce platforms, or lacking in cohesive and well-constructed e-commerce platforms, aren’t doing themselves any favors. E-commerce in general isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and mobile e-commerce will likely only continue to grow at a fast-paced rate. As our world becomes more interconnected and globalized, it’s naïve to think that U.S. companies cannot find markets in countries abroad, and a mobile e-commerce presence can help alleviate the costs of doing business abroad by reducing the need for physical facilities.
What was once a novelty experience reserved for only the largest of companies and the tech-savviest of consumers has now become equally as accessible as shopping at the local mall. Shopping on a mobile device is slowly becoming a part of daily life, as people are able to order everything from groceries to the latest technological wonder with just a few swipes on a touch-screen. Now, mobile commerce is not simply a luxury or a quirk – it’s a part of our society.