4 Mobile Commerce Trends to Follow in 2021
2020 has brought the coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions. It has also changed our shopping habits. For a significant part of past year virtually all industries – excluding fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) – were forced to close their stationary stores and move sales to the Internet.
This have accelerated the trend that we’ve been observing in the last couple of years: more and more customers are buying online, with the share of sales from mobile devices constantly growing. According to the Hootsuite Digital 2021 report, already about 70% of mobile device users use shopping applications.
From this article you will learn what the current situation in the mCommerce industry looks like, how mobile apps fit into it and which trends are worth following.
mCommerce in Poland and Worldwide in 2021
Last year the share of mobile commerce in the global eCommerce market reached 67.2% and is expected to quickly exceed 70% (source: Statista). These numbers should be a clear signal to all online stores that their smartphone shopping experience should be as good as possible.
For this to happen, many companies decide to invest in their own mobile application. As indicated by the results of the Basket of the Year 2020 (Koszyk Roku 2020) survey, conducted on 100 largest Polish online retailers, 48% of them allow for purchases via native mobile applications or via web applications (PWA), with fashion and electronics stores as leaders in this field. However, only 5% of online stores offer their customers both of these solutions – a native and a web application – at the same time. Is this enough for customers?
1. Mobile App in the Omnichannel Strategy
To be able to stay on the market, eCommerce stores have to be available to customers in different channels at the same time. Another study, this time conducted by Salesforce, shows that as many as 75% of customers expect a consistent purchasing experience regardless of the channel used. Whether in the online or offline world stores have to make effort. If they don’t, they risk that as many as 73% of the above ¾ customers will take their business elsewhere. It is therefore obvious that the omnichannel approach can bring long-term benefits to eCommerce businesses.
So, how to use the mobile app well in the omnichannel strategy? An interesting example comes from the new Lidl solution based on the Lidl Plus application. Last year, the popular retailer introduced its own payment system called Lidl Pay, available in the application and requiring no NFC module (near-field communication, i.e. short-range communication, allowing for wireless data exchange up to 20 cm). Payments are made in the same way as the activation of discount vouchers – you simply scan your QR code at the cash register. This allows Lidl, who already collects data about its online users, to learn about their behavior in the offline environment. As a result, the company can better personalize their communication sent to customers and target them with promotions based on their purchases made in stationary stores. In return, customers have convenient access to digital receipts and can activate promotions and pay with a single scan of their QR code.
2. Augmented Reality (AR) and Conversion Growth
The use of augmented reality (AR) is a trend that we’ve been observing for quite some time, but the peak of its popularity is still ahead of us. We know that AR can decisively influence the customer's purchasing decision. 40% of Interactions respondents said they would be willing to pay more for a product if they could “try it” using AR. And as many as 72% of them admitted that they had bought products that they had not planned to buy because of the experience offered by augmented reality.
What does it look like in practice? The Douglas drugstore chain offers an application called Beauty Mirror, which allows you to virtually “try on” different makeup products and their variants. Initially, it could only be used in stationary stores. Etsy’s mobile app has also started using AR. Users of the iOS application, thanks to the access to several million proposals from the Images, Photography and Prints category, can check whether a given handmade product would fit inside their apartments and how it would look in the existing surroundings.
3. Mobile Apps – More Than a Shopping Cart
The State of Mobile 2021 report, prepared by App Annie, shows that smartphone users spend seven times as much time in native applications than in browsers. Mobile applications can therefore significantly increase customer loyalty – as long as they offer more than standard purchases. What could it be? Access to the loyalty program, special offers or access to digital receipts. Many brands have already started doing that.
For example: the Nike store gives its mobile app users access to the latest products (e.g. priority access to new products, option to book the latest models before they go on sale), and the Polish eCommerce tycoon, the CCC brand, has transferred its entire loyalty program to the mobile application (no more physical club cards, all purchases are registered directly in the app). Moreover, in addition to the existing loyalty program and the inspirational section created by influencers and fashion magazines editors, CCC plans to add new features that increase the attractiveness of its mobile application. Among them there will be a 2D esize.me scanner which will allow you to measure the size of your foot and select shoes without the need to visit a showroom.
4. mCommerce and Social Media
Is having your own mobile app the only available way to “ride” the global wave of mobile commerce? Of course not. Since last year, products can be sold to smartphone owners even faster and more effectively thanks to Facebook Shops, a solution that allows you to run an online store using Facebook connected to Instagram. It is a solution designed for small and medium-sized businesses.
However, when it comes to new solutions that take advantage of the global mCommerce momentum, not only Mark Zuckerberg's company has good timing. Large retailers are also increasingly willing to use social media to grow their businesses. In December 2020 the American supermarket chain Walmart partnered with TikTok and participated in a live shopping test on this platform. The results turned out to be so encouraging that in March this year Walmart decided to organize another event of a similar nature. During an hour-long "Spring Shop-Along: Beauty Edition" live event, influencers presented products from the NYX, Maybelline and Marc Jacobs brands, while participants were able to make purchases.
The numbers clearly show that if the eCommerce industry wants to take advantage of the ongoing mobile-boom, it should pay more attention to mCommerce, by e.g. investing in mobile apps. The native mobile application gives the widest flexibility when it comes to user engagement, e.g. through compatibility with the AR technology. It is worth noting that thanks to solutions such as React Native you can create one mobile application for both iOS and Android. You can also try to integrate your mobile app with the existing online store, e.g. by basing the application on the Magento 2 system.
You should remember, however, that there are many options available and you should choose them based on the current level of your business development, as well as on the nature of your target group and its needs.
In our next article we will take a closer look at a solution that is competitive to native mobile applications – PWA (progressive web app – a web application that runs like a regular website). Currently, this technology does not provide as wide possibilities as a native application, however, due to the much lower implementation costs, it may be an attractive alternative for many eBusinesses.