What is m-commerce?

Glossary What is m-commerce?

The definition of m-commerce

Short for mobile commerce, m-commerce refers to any commercial transactions that take place via apps or mobile sites. Mobile commerce can be understood broadly as a subcategory of e-commerce, or as the mobile version of e-commerce. The mobile commerce vertical is growing rapidly, with the percentage and share of digital purchases that are taking place on mobile increasing each year. As making purchases on mobile gets more convenient and as more people globally gain access to smartphones and tablets, the capacity for mobile purchases to be made continues to soar.

In short, the definition of m-commerce is: the buying and selling of items via mobile devices.

What is the difference between m-commerce and e-commerce?

Electronic commerce includes all commercial transactions that take place digitally, and mobile commerce is strictly mobile (or tablet), dealing with digital transactions that take place on smartphones. Although m-commerce is a subcategory of e-commerce, the latter typically refers to transactions that take place on desktop computers. So, if you browse a clothing website on a desktop and make a purchase, that’s an e-commerce transaction, if you access a clothing brand or retailer via an app or mobile site, that’s a mobile commerce transaction. What m-commerce essentially enables is the ability for users to access online shopping platforms, browse and make purchases as conveniently and seamlessly as possible using a mobile device.

The e-commerce and m-commerce space is constantly growing and adapting to the needs of consumers on mobile. Learn about the latest developments in Adjust’s E-commerce App Report 2021.

M-commerce examples and types

Broken into three main categories (mobile shopping, mobile payments, and mobile banking), the highest growth areas for m-commerce are:

  • In-app purchasing (such as buying clothing items via a retail app)

  • Mobile banking

  • Virtual marketplace apps like Amazon

  • Digital wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay

  • Mobile ticketing

There is significant crossover with fintech, but that’s only because mobile commerce doesn’t strictly refer to the buying of products, it also encapsulates the smartphone behaviors that lead to making a mobile purchase and the technology that enables it.

Key m-commerce areas include:

Browsing and buying: Similar to an e-commerce flow on a desktop, this form of m-commerce involves the user browsing apps, clicking around mobile websites, and making purchases. This typically occurs via dedicated apps, but can also take place as a ‘social commerce’ purchase, with social media platforms including TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat offering purchasing options in-app.

Convenience purchases: Many of the purchases that take place on mobile aren’t retail-related, and m-commerce is not restricted to ‘shopping’ per se. These purchases include ordering food or grocery deliveries, and booking taxis or ride-sharing.

Mobile app payments and wallet payments: There are various ways to actually make an m-commerce purchase, and digital wallets are growing in use. Instead of inputting credit card details to each individual app, a user’s digital wallet can be loaded (as a popup/overlay) and the purchase can be made with a single click or by simply using a thumbprint.

Digital content (purchasing and renting): Subscriptions apps are extremely popular on mobile, most commonly with music and video (think Netflix and Spotify). Users pay a subscription fee and can then access an entire library of content from their mobile app.

Growth of mobile commerce

As mobile ownership rates continue to rise globally, alongside access to high-speed internet, m-commerce is set to continue taking market share within the e-commerce sector. If we think about the fact that more internet usage currently comes from mobile than from desktop, a clear picture of the future of online/digital commerce can be understood. Businesses that do not take advantage of this shift to m-commerce will limit their reach as the shift to mobile continues.

Be the first to know. Subscribe for monthly app insights.