Mobile commerce continues to shape the entire E-commerce landscape. From the rise of augmented reality (AR) shopping experiences to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in personalising customer journeys, the drive of M-Commerce has been nothing short of revolutionary.

It’s evident that mobile devices have become indispensable tools for both consumers and businesses. The convenience of browsing, shopping, and transacting on-the-go has propelled the exponential growth of mobile commerce. With smartphones evolving into powerful hubs of connectivity and functionality, they have become the primary gateway to the digital marketplace for billions worldwide.

The statistics are astonishing: According to Data.ai, over 100 billion hours a year are spent in M-commerce apps every year. In the US alone, over $700 billion is expected to be spent in M-commerce by 2025. The mobile economy is alive and well and thriving. Indeed, according to Statista, 61% of all Google search are carried out on mobile devices.

In 2024, consumer behaviour continues to evolve in tandem with technological advancements. Today’s consumers demand seamless, personalised experiences across every touchpoint of their shopping journey. From product discovery to post-purchase engagement, the emphasis is on convenience, relevance, and efficiency.

One notable trend is the increasing preference for mobile shopping apps over traditional websites. From a commercial point of view, mobile shopping is also more stable and lucrative than the desktop with just 20% cart abandonment with M-commerce compared to nearly 70% on the desktop, according to Foresight Mobile.

These apps offer tailored experiences, push notifications, and streamlined checkout processes, fostering stronger brand loyalty and engagement. The integration of social commerce features within popular social media platforms has blurred the lines between browsing and buying, catering to the preference for frictionless transactions. And as PWC stated in 2018, voice search is also gaining popularity as the primary way consumers interact with M-commerce applications.

Azari, E-commerce Industry Consultant, AppsFlyer.

Speaking to Silicon UK, Sue Azari, E-commerce Industry Consultant, AppsFlyer, said “In the year ahead, we are likely to see the “everything app” increase in popularity beyond Asia. The super app concept, inspired by China’s WeChat, offers users a one-stop shop for numerous functions, such as content, bills, gaming, travel, loyalty, and shopping. Such a seamless customer experience that addresses multiple different consumer needs, will drive further engagement for brands, who will do well to capitalise on the increased availability and variety of first-party data points that super apps provide.”

Mobile first

No discussion of the advances made across M-commerce without considering the impact that AI is having. At MWC this year, every mobile device – especially smartphones – will have their existing AI capabilities enhanced. This year AI-powered recommendation engines analyse vast datasets to offer tailored product suggestions based on individual preferences, browsing history, and demographic profiles.

AI chatbots and virtual assistants provide instant support and guidance throughout the customer journey, enhancing the overall shopping experience. By harnessing machine learning algorithms, retailers can anticipate consumer needs, optimise inventory management, and dynamically adjust pricing strategies to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving market landscape.

“We should expect a new generation of digital assistants powered by the latest generative AI tech,” Nadia Alramli, Vice President of Engineering at HubSpot, told Silicon UK. “Soon, I expect Apple, Google and Amazon to iterate here – their digital assistants will be able to understand and remember your preferences from past commands and recommend actions for you to take next instead of only reacting to specific instructions.”

Nadia Alramli, Vice President of Engineering at HubSpot.

Alramli concluded: “We’re looking at a future where digital assistants go beyond mere response systems. They’re evolving to understand context and retain memory of past interactions. This isn’t just a fancy feature – it’s a practical tool to provide us with tailored recommendations that actually make sense in the context of our historical preferences and habits.”

While the state of M-Commerce in 2024 is ripe with opportunities, it also presents its fair share of challenges. Security concerns, data privacy regulations, and the need for seamless cross-platform integration remain key areas of focus for businesses operating in the mobile space. And as the market becomes increasingly saturated, maintaining relevance and differentiation amidst fierce competition is essential for sustained success.

One of the primary challenges in M-commerce is securing mobile transactions against fraudulent activities. To mitigate the risk of unauthorised access and fraudulent transactions, businesses must implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) and encryption protocols to safeguard sensitive data transmitted during transactions. Additionally, adopting tokensation technology can further enhance security by replacing sensitive information with unique tokens, reducing the risk of data theft in the event of a breach.

“The perception is that digital wallets are completely secure but in reality they can still be vulnerable to attack because they’re based on APIs which bots can readily abuse,” explained Andy Mills, VP for EMEA at Cequence Security. One recent example saw Apple Pay come under attack.

Andy Mills, VP for EMEA at Cequence Security.

“During a recent promotion for an item that was in high demand, a large footwear and apparel retailer detected and mitigated a bot attack that saw traffic escalate to fifty times higher than normal, with 200 million API requests coming from roughly six million unique IP addresses. But this initial attack was in fact subterfuge.

Mills concluded: “In this instance, a cook group had discovered the existence of a shadow API which had access to the Apple Pay functionality on the retailers’ platform. A shadow API is one that has been spun up onto the network but has then been neglected and forgotten about. The attackers would have detected the shadow Apple API while probing the network and after some reconnaissance would have recognised its value. As soon as the product launch began, the Shadow Apple Pay API was hit with more than 100 million malicious API requests, all from high-quality residential proxies.”

However, with challenge comes opportunity. Forward-thinking retailers are embracing emerging technologies, investing in robust cybersecurity measures, and prioritising customer-centricity to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, the global shift towards a cashless society and the proliferation of contactless payment methods presents new avenues for growth and innovation in the M-Commerce ecosystem.

Also, within the M-commerce space we are seeing the expansion of marketplaces (expected to reach a value of $2.1 trillion by the end of 2024) that enable brands to reach infinitely larger audiences. Social selling has never been bigger as businesses see the value of platforms from Facebook to X and the power of social influencers. And M-commerce is also embracing more direct-to-consumer tactics as some enterprises cut out the retailer and make direct and personal connections with their customer bases.

Businesses are also paying close attention to expanding markets in regions such as the Philippines, India and Indonesia that have seen rapid expansion in their E-commerce markets with M-commerce playing an increasingly important role. Investing in localising content – such as multiple language options – are expanding. Indeed, 57% of consumers surveyed by PayPal about their shopping habits, have made purchases internationally. Just translating an app or mobile-enabled website is not enough. Businesses must also regionalise payments, pricing, and delivery to ensure a seamless and secure customer experience.

Cambridge Consultants’ Director of Digital Service Innovation, Martin Cookson also points to spatial computing as the latest space that will see commercial expansion: “Immersive Experiences, not headset reliant are progressing with enhancement to accommodate web, mobile and headset-based interactions, with increasing immersion. Importantly, whilst brands want to bring consumers to them (e.g. Nike with Nikeland), a local augmentation that brings the brand to the consumer will be key in 2024.

“A new era of interaction: new paradigms are emerging – conversational interfaces, hand-tracking, eye-tracking, gestures – all of which don’t rely on more traditional digital interfaces,” Cookson concluded. “Multi-modal large language models also offer unparalleled potential for accessible, equitable digital services. With new interactions come new challenges in relation to the design of these experiences, how to create new gestures and interactions, creation of 3D assets.”

On the move

The importance of the omnichannel continues, with 73% of shoppers preferring to shop through multiple channels. Not surprisingly, these shoppers are the Millennials and Gen Z who have grown up with the Internet and take mobile devices – and the ability to shop at will – for granted.

“In 2023, brands like Nike, Lego, Clarks Shoes, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, and L’Occitane built immersive xR experiences that enabled physical product augmentation and digital-only direct-to-consumer (D2C) interactions,” explained, Cambridge Consultants’ Martin Cookson. “Whilst not limited to headset-based interfaces, and not new, the release of the recent Meta Quest 3, and upcoming Spatial Computing headsets from Apple, Sony will further raise the profile of metaverse-like experiences that offer new engagement paradigms for brands and their consumers.”

M-commerce has been on an upward trajectory since its inception and shows no sign of slowing. Mobile technology will continue to shape the way we shop, connect, and transact. From the widespread adoption of 5G connectivity to the convergence of virtual reality and M-Commerce, the possibilities are limitless.

In this era of digital transformation, adaptability and innovation will be the keys to success for businesses navigating the evolving landscape of M-Commerce. By embracing emerging technologies, prioritising customer experience, and staying agile in the face of change, retailers can thrive in an increasingly mobile-centric world.

Kelly Goetsch, Chief Strategy Officer, Commercetools.

Kelly Goetsch, Chief Strategy Officer, Commercetools.
What are the key trends shaping the landscape of mobile commerce in 2024?

“In recent years, super apps such as WeChat in Asia and Rappi in Latin America have experienced significant growth. They have extended their offering to include mobile payments and E-commerce capabilities for customers who want a more comprehensive app experience. Although Europe is considerably behind Asia when it comes to super apps, that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for super apps to gain popularity in 2024.

“A big trend we’re seeing is consumers wanting to spend time on apps that have multiple functionalities rather than switching between several one-purpose apps. With a growing demand for convenience and seamless user experiences, having multiple services in one place is crucial to keep people interested in using apps. PayPal has already been making headway to diversify its app, but there is still a long way to go for it to reach super app status. This all points to the need for fewer but better quality and high-performing mobile app experiences that meet and satisfy the needs of consumers.

“Additionally, another trend we’re seeing is the rise of QR codes. They are not only here to stay but they’re going to increase in popularity and application over time. As a low-friction and seamless way of getting access to key information, whether that be menus or advertised products, QR codes will bolster the link between in-store and mobile commerce.”

How is the integration of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) impacting the mobile commerce experience for consumers?

“The technology is there to provide an immersive experience; however, it struggles to be executed effectively via a mobile phone. Currently, there are several niche applications for AR technology on mobile, such as visualising how furniture would look in a particular space.

“While some brands are adopting AR as part of their product marketing strategy, not all of them are successful in encouraging consumers to use the technology when making a purchase decision. This is a common mistake when the user’s experience and their preferences for it haven’t been taken into account. These features, often driven by marketing, are prioritised over the basics like easier checkout processes, availability of sizing information, real-time stock updates, integration of reviews, and much more. Therefore, brands should avoid overemphasising AR integrations into their mobile commerce offering and go back to basics.”

With the increasing prevalence of mobile apps, what strategies do successful businesses employ to enhance user engagement and retention?

“A mobile application cannot be successful if it doesn’t attract users who engage with it long-term. If you look at some of the data out there, you’ll find that over 75% of mobile apps that consumers download are never opened again. This is important because the average cost to acquire a user who makes an in-app purchase can be as high as $70.

“Most people only ever spend their time on a handful of apps, including email, their internet browser, social media, and the occasional weather or map application. This short app span is often ignored by companies who see app creation as a tick-box exercise for their business, turning a blind eye to the long-term financial implication of this investment and the implication on customer retention if the experience isn’t up to scratch.

“The key strategy to winning and retaining customers over mobile is to build apps with additional yet sensible functionalities, a trend we’re seeing with super apps. The aim is to make the user experience smoother by minimising the need to switch between different applications for different purposes. By linking the app to social media, video-sharing sites such as TikTok, digital banking and payment – all through a single click – the incentive to download and use the app on an ongoing basis becomes greater.”

Are there any notable shifts in consumer behaviour related to mobile commerce, and how are businesses adapting their strategies to meet changing expectations?

“Users expect fast-loading, intuitive, and interactive platforms when making purchases on their mobile device. To avoid having a poorly designed app with confusing navigation and poor performance, businesses must pay attention to the design of their UX and UI. By constantly evaluating their UX and UI, they can find new ways to attract and retain customers. This effort must be consistent to keep pace with customer preferences as they evolve.

“The growing use of mobile wallets is another shift in consumer behaviour. Today, most payments are done digitally, and increasingly over a mobile phone, as a convenient and safe way to pay for their purchases. Whether in-store or online, it’s become a habit. However, the experience for most can be a cumbersome one with the need to enter your contact details, address, bank information, and so on. Some brands do this well, especially the one-click features of PayPal or Apple Pay. But this has set new expectations around payment features and integrations, revealing an opportunity for businesses to capitalise on.”

What challenges do businesses face in the mobile commerce space, and what innovative solutions or technologies are emerging to address these challenges?

“In the mobile commerce space, businesses struggle to get the visibility and attention needed to stand out in what is an overcrowded and competitive market. It is saturated with thousands of apps, each vying for consumer eyeballs and fingers. There are clever ways to make an app stand out, whether that’s tweaking algorithms to push download numbers, ratings and user engagement. However, the problem is the users, who tend to download an app, only to remove it seconds later, sometimes without even authenticating it by creating a login.

“The physical limitations of the device also present a challenge for brands capitalising on mobile commerce. We’ve seen Samsung and other mobile brands try to accommodate multiple or flexible screens. But the size of a mobile phone itself, regardless of how big it can get, can often be impractical. It limits users’ ability to only see a single window and only one application before having to manually split between a desktop or another device such as an iPad or smartwatch. The touchscreen itself can be a blessing and a sin, with gestures representing hidden UI features that aim to make interactions fluid and efficient but can also impact discoverability if not used correctly or at all.”

David Howell

Dave Howell is a freelance journalist and writer. His work has appeared across the national press and in industry-leading magazines and websites. He specialises in technology and business. Read more about Dave on his website: Nexus Publishing. https://www.nexuspublishing.co.uk.

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