Definition: M-commerce is that segment of electronic commerce, which functions via WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) technology providing access millions of mobile users for carrying out various online transactions and other activities through a small device. Mobile internet access is the base of mobile commerce.
Since m-commerce is taking up the market on fire with a number of ingenious ideas, it constantly embellishes the user experience.
Features of M-commerce
M-commerce seems to be quite similar to e-commerce.
However, the following characteristics of mobile commerce make it a more convenient version to carry out e-commerce activities:
- Personalization: The users can download applications and operate different websites of their choice on a mobile phone.
- Pervasiveness: A mobile device is available with almost each one of us today. This characteristic makes it immensely useful to carry out mobile commerce activities.
- Accessibility: It is easier to operate a mobile device due to no time and place barriers. Thus, making payments, billing, ticketing, shopping, advertising, banking, etc. becomes extremely convenient.
- Connectivity: With the help of mobile data (recharged on a sim) and high-tech network, the users can successfully accomplish multiple tasks with the help of a mobile phone.
- Security: The mobile password, lock, security code and one-time password ensures the user secured access to their bank accounts, through this compact device.
- Real-time Data: The internet accessibility on a mobile phone, enables the user to remain updated and seek current information as and when required.
- User-friendliness: A small device with multi-functional usage is considered to be more appropriate than a bulky computer or a laptop which cannot be used anywhere and everywhere.
- Localization: The users can adjust the preferred language (according to their understanding) on a mobile device, which makes m-commerce far more conducive for them.
A user downloaded a Youtube App on his mobile device to view entertaining videos.
He encountered an Amazon advertisement pitching an affordable speaker system, at the beginning of the video. Fascinated with the advertisement, he downloaded ‘Amazon’s shopping app’. He found a suitable deal and proceeded with the purchase.
The user made the payment of this transaction through his debit card secured with the OTP (One Time Password) using the mobile device itself.
Types of M-commerce Applications
What all can m-commerce facilitate?
The users can perform the below tasks through their smartphones, with just an internet connection and basic application knowledge:
Mobile commerce has now made availing of banking services quite easy. Virtual banking facilitates payment of bills, fund transfer and cheques deposit through bank supported mobile apps.
Some of the prominent banks providing mobile banking app facility include SBI’s ‘Yono’, Canara Bank’s ‘M-serve’ and CBI’s ‘Cent Mobile’.
Most of the big brands like Caratlane, Adidas, Levi’s and many others have developed their mobile apps to promote online shopping experience.
Other e-commerce sites like Amazon, Myntra, Shopper’s Stop, etc have captured a vast market of mobile shopping.
Online shopping is supported by mobile payment options. The users can easily compensate for their purchase via mobile wallet or debit/credit card credentials.
For instance, Paypal is a widely excepted m-payment mode all over the world; and M-Pesa is a common payment mode in Kenya.
Mobile Advertising and Marketing
Many viral marketing activities are concentrated on the mobile commerce platform to a great extent.
The mobile apps feature advertisements based on consumer’s cookies and search history to target potential consumers. Even companies send SMS to pitch attractive offers to users.
A number of social media and entertainment apps like Facebook, Youtube, JioTv and many more connect the users to the world as well as provides a medium for entertainment.
One of the best examples of m-entertainment is the Netflix series which can be watched on a mobile phone.
The users can avail e-tickets for a train, bus or flight booking on mobile phones. For any other kind of online booking whether it is a hotel room or a movie ticket, m-commerce provides great offers.
For instance, Goibibo app aids the consumers to book holidays, train, flight or bus journey, etc.
Mobile commerce has emerged as a necessity for 21st-century users. Let us discuss some of its prominent advantages below:
Facilitates Business Transactions: For small business owners, mobile commerce has proved to be a blessing. Since UPI and other payment modes have expedited small business transactions instantly.
Cost-Effectiveness: The users can incredibly save on travelling to banks, market, theatres, etc. while availing multiple related services on just a click.
Customer Acquisition: The sellers and service providers can procure and convert diversified mobile users (i.e., prospective consumers) into customers.
Wide-spread Market Penetration: While the local sellers find it difficult to reach out the global consumers, m-commerce provides them with a platform to explore a large potential market.
Efficient Marketing Tool: The consumer’s preference and requirements can be judged with the help of location tracking and google search analysis. Thus, m-commerce proves to be a superior marketing tool for organizations.
Extended Variety: Through m-commerce, the buyers can choose among a huge assortment of products or services on a mobile device.
Enhances Customer Experience: It simplifies business transactions and other daily chores of the consumers to provide them with exceptional user experience.
Compact and Ease of Accessibility: A mobile is much more today than just a calling device. Its handy build-up makes it a convenient option for carrying out various e-commerce activities.
Promotes Omnichannel Retailing: Mobile commerce facilitates the integration or combination of multiple channels to smoothen the business functions and enhance the consumers’ shopping experience.
M-commerce has definitely made lives better, but we cannot overlook its various drawbacks as elaborated below:
Low Rates of Customer Retention: When price comparison among the various buying options on a mobile commerce platform is exceptionally effortless, it becomes really difficult for the companies to retain their customers.
Network or Connectivity Issues: Mobile networks are not that efficient and lack a professional speed. This lack of connectivity has posed a tremendous challenge for conducting m-commerce activities.
Application Loopholes: The mobile applications initiate various m-commerce activities, but these mobile apps require time to time updation. Also, at times some of these apps crash down showing poor performance.
Small Mobile Phone Display: When compared to a computer or laptop, a mobile device lacks a big screen. Thus, browsing multiple options over a mobile phone becomes quite stressful for the user’s eyes.
Security Issues: It has been very easy for hackers to steal users information from their mobile devices. Therefore, m-commerce is prone to security risk and misuse of user information.
Expensive M-commerce Software: For the business organizations which are looking forward to m-commerce expansion, launching a mobile app or installing an m-commerce software is a costly affair.
Excessive Legal Compliance: M-commerce and e-commerce platforms connects the local business organizations to the global market. However, the tax and legal barriers involved in cross-selling across different countries create limitations for such companies.
M-commerce has simplified the lives of people conspicuously, facilitating transactions and connectivity from anywhere.
The banks, shops, markets, theatres, payment counters and many more have now become reachable with few clicks.
Users today can keep updated with every bit of information on social media and websites accessible over mobile phones.
How could we forget the easy mobile banking services ranging from online money transfer to balance enquiry?
Even the downloading of jpeg, pdf, mp3, mp4, word, etc files on a small mobile device has not limited the users to computers or laptops.
When online shopping is arising as a trend, various mobile applications have connected the buyers and sellers over this compact platform.