Trends & Predictions: The Impact of COVID-19 on Mobile Commerce

Trends & Predictions: The Impact of COVID-19 on Mobile Commerce

The pandemic has brought with it some obscure consequences, impacting individuals and businesses on a global scale. With lockdowns, social distancing, and other precautions in place, many people continue to opt for online solutions.

Retail has taken a massive hit with brick-and-mortar stores experiencing a decrease in foot traffic. But that doesn't mean people aren't spending. eCommerce has boomed since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. Online sales went up by $73 billion in June 2020—that's a 76% increase year over year.

Since eCommerce and online retail is becoming more and more prominent worldwide, it's only logical to assume that digital marketing is following suit. Reaching prospects and customers where they spend most of their time is crucial to ongoing business success.

Communication channels continue to thrive online, enhancing the customers' overall brand experience and boosting engagement. Popular marketing channels include:

  • Enterprise SMS
  • Social media
  • Email
  • PPC and online advertising
  • LiveChat and chatbots

The rise of mCommerce

The subcategory of eCommerce focused specifically at online purchases through mobile devices was already increasing in sales before 2020. BigCommerce showed a steady rise for mobile commerce (or mCommerce) year on year. Globally, businesses saw an 18% growth before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: SMSGlobal integrates with BigCommerce

Since then, customers have adapted by switching to online stores and social media on their phones more so than before. According to Internet Retailing, users spent an average of 4.3 hours—that's 27% of daily waking hours—on their mobile device in April 2020, up 20% from 2019.

The rapid increase in mobile use also saw a rise in mCommerce sales. The growth in mCommerce since April this year would have taken two to three years under normal circumstances, accelerating the shift to a mobile-first economy.

Mobile communication solutions are vital to ensure the overall mCommerce experience is concise and secure. Business SMS plays a crucial role in providing customers and businesses updates with the latest notifications and alerts. Text messaging has also become a staple for online security with regards to Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and One-Time Passwords (OTP).

The combination of convenience coupled with the latest technology, vast payment options, and security features have proven that mobile is a significant contender beside online desktop sales. With augmented reality and one-touch payments within arm's reach at all times, it's not surprising that mCommerce has snowballed in recent times.

Related: Top 11 marketing trends to expect in 2020

Can online retailers keep up?

Online advertising has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic. Yet, the overall user experience for mobile hasn't been optimised to the same extent. Some experts believe that online retailers still have a long way to go in this regard.

"I actually don't think enough retailers are optimizing the mobile experience," said Keren Kang, CEO of Native Commerce as reported by Retail Dive.

"Shoppers on mobile have surpassed those on desktop as of the last year, and still the top retailers are trailing behind on optimization, which is a little surprising."

Online advertising

According to PubMatic's Mobile Quarterly Index, mobile ad spend increased by 71% year-on-year during Q2 of 2020, and up to 77% in the Americas. Although spending has been slashed across other areas, in particular, mobile overtook the majority share of video ad spend this year.

It is all well and good to advertise and increase engagement online. But once someone clicks through to your website, the UX/UI design must be compatible with mobile. If it's not optimised for mobile, then there is a high likelihood that opportunities could be lost.

UX/UI Design

Online sales and ad spend have increased since many businesses pivoted to eCommerce solutions during lockdowns and restrictions. And that means that the digital user experience has never been more critical.

UX/UI Design refers to user experience design and user interface design. Covering the bases of how a website can best benefit the user, including:

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Fast loading times
  • Intuitive page flow
  • Ethical considerations
  • Logical and attractive design elements

With a unique brand and business model, UX makes up the aesthetic of a brand's website and ultimately how customers interact with it. Without mobile optimisation, the overall user experience can be damaging. Slow loading times, illogical placement of buttons and menus, and too many steps to sign up can deter prospects from becoming paying customers.

Related: Why Customer Experience (CX) is Vital to your Marketing Strategy in 2020

Mobile vs Desktop: What does mobile offer that desktop doesn't?

In the past, Desktop has been a popular choice for retail. However, the latest smartphones and mobile technology have combined the convenience of phones with the intuitive online experiences of a desktop. As well as new and unique mobile experiences available in the palm of your hand.

Augmented Reality

AR allows users to assign digital elements into their surroundings by using their phone's inbuilt camera. Ikea and Sephora have been praised for their seamless integration of AR into their mobile functions.

One-touch payments

With fingerprint and facial recognition, mobile allows users to access information securely in one touch or look. Using payment platforms such as PayPal, one-touch payments speed up the check-out process for online retail experiences. That means there are fewer steps for customers to go from their shopping cart to complete a purchase.

Social media accessibility

Online stores on social media, such as Shops on Instagram, integrates online shopping directly into popular apps. With options to leave the app and go to the store website, or purchase in-app, these solutions minimise the steps needed to finalise a purchase. It also provides brands with a platform to advertise and reach more prospects than before.

Related: Top B2B eCommerce Platform for Boosting Sales in 2020

'Tis the season to be frugal

Considering the time of year, many online retailers are gearing up for the upcoming shopping season. Beginning with Halloween, soon followed by Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then the Christmas holidays. Usually, these retail holidays mean extensive advertising campaigns, deals and promotions, flash sales, and so much more.

Less engagement on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020

This year, the shopping season is predicted to begin earlier to stave off bulk spending with consumers who may be less engaged this Black Friday and Cyber Monday than past years.

App Annie's Mobile Minute report predicts the drawn-out shopping season will be longer in 2020 due to a combination of reasons. Specifically, the two main components that the report mentioned included the delay of Amazon's Prime Day from July to October and a contraction in the USA economy amidst high unemployment rates.

Regarding the upcoming retail season, Kang said to Retail Dive, "I'm seeing more pre-Black Friday deals happening both online, in apps, and in retail."

"'Beat the crowd' deals are becoming commonplace. Black Friday is being stretched out to a week's worth of deals for the consumer."

Related: Why your business is doomed without Omnichannel Marketing

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