Over ten years ago, in 2008, Apple launched its app store with about 800 applications for users. Today, the Apple Store marketplace boasts over 2.2 million apps available for purchase and download. The future is clearly mobile and businesses spend a lot of time figuring out how mobile apps will define aspects of their business and how they’ll drive future e-commerce operations.
More people use their mobile devices to shop than ever before. One 2016 study noted that app usage among all users and audiences continues to grow, noting, “people spend more time using daily habit apps (news, sports, stock market reports, etc.) and social apps, with statistics showing an 11% increase in mobile usage and a whopping 69% increase in time spent on mobile apps compared to 2015’s data.”
It’s possible that the rise of mobile will mean that e-commerce and m-commerce will one day be synonymous with each other. When someone talks about online commerce or e-commerce, it might be that one day that means what we refer to as m-commerce today – using a mobile device or mobile app to transact business. Mobile apps continue to shape and change the e-commerce landscape, offering certain benefits over other types of customer interaction, including mobile websites.
Capabilities of mobile apps that improve the e-commerce experience
Single Grain notes that the capabilities of mobile apps make them the next logical step in a comprehensive, customer-focused e-commerce experience. These capabilities include:
1. Dedicated, streamlined experience
Apps are a dedicated business experience and this streamlined, one-stop application makes it easier for users to do what they need to do. Most apps are more user-friendly and more streamlined than mobile websites or desktop versions of sites.
2. Integration with device features
Apps can easily utilize the features of the device it is on, like camera, GPS, and Bluetooth. This makes it much easier to offer customers enhanced functionality with features like location-based offers. This kind of experience is mobile-only and truly sets mobile apart with in the world of digital commerce. In fact, phones and tablets are no longer the only m-commerce options, as smartwatches and wearable devices have app capabilities built-in alongside their fitness tracking and monitoring features.
3. Offline capabilities
Some apps, like Spotify, can be used offline. This is also a gamechanger for the digital commerce world. While this capability won’t be applicable or useful to every business – and does require some storage from users who are often very storage-sensitive – it is definitely a way that m-commerce and mobile apps are changing and shaping the possibilities of e-commerce.
4. A faster and more convenient experience
Single Grain notes the importance of this mobile app feature by saying, “Apps load quickly and users do not have to go through the arduous process of opening the web browser, typing in the URL, and waiting for the page to load. It’s definitely easier to just click the app’s icon. Some mobile websites are not compatible with mobile web browsers and can be quite troublesome to use. It is also far easier to navigate using mobile apps.”
How Mobile apps are changing the e-commerce
Knowing the appeal of mobile apps in e-commerce is crucial in understanding how they are changing the digital landscape. It’s also important to know how these changes play out in business and what specific mobile-based technology is driving the most change. Among the most significant, specific ways that mobile apps are changing the e-commerce landscape include:
More and more businesses are adding chat capabilities to their websites and e-commerce channels. Whether this is staffed by real customer service reps or chatbot software, the prevalence of chat applications has raised the customer expectation and both e-commerce and m-commerce have had to adjust in kind.
#AI and voice assistants
Voice assistants like Google and Amazon’s Alexa have changed the way that customers conduct business. From research to purchases, voice assistants on smartphones and in-home devices have effectively blurred the line between e-commerce and m-commerce.
Another way that mobile apps have changed the e-commerce experience is through image searches. Customers have access to a whole world of information on their mobile devices and can easily take an in-store picture with their phone and search that image against all m-commerce options. Ultimately, better technology and increased functionality of all mobile devices have led to a completely different, more competitive commerce experience for almost all organizations. This mobile-driven advantage has made it more important than ever for businesses to understand how their mobile apps are affecting and shaping their customer relationships and helping to improve their business overall.
Has your business felt the impact and changes in e-commerce practices because of m-commerce developments and the development and functionality of mobile apps? Mobile is no longer a “nice to have” – it is a mobile-first world for almost all organizations. Staying ahead of technology trends and understanding the relationship that people have with their data and their devices can help you make the best decisions for your business going forward.