eCommerce vs mCommerce — what’s the difference?

eCommerce has long been a common term in our industry. It’s the way nearly every company is moving and for good reason — people are increasingly shopping online more. But have you ever heard of the idea of mCommerce? In this article, we’ll take a look at the two different shopping experiences and really break them down to help you determine what’s best for your company. 

Here’s what we’ll take a closer look at: 

  • What eCommerce really means
  • The advantages and disadvantages of eCommerce
  • Introduce you to mCommerce
  • Talk about the advantages and disadvantages of mCommerce
  • Compare the differences side-by-side

Step 1: Understanding eCommerce 

Let’s be honest, if you’re a retail marketer in today’s world, you probably already know what eCommerce is. But to really understand how eCommerce and mCommerce compare, contrast, and work together, we need to take a step back to the fundamentals. 

Here’s a quick overview of eCommerce to set the stage. eCommerce stands for electronic commerce, meaning any business transaction that occurs online. Transactions that are considered eCommerce happen on a desktop or laptop computer — you’ll notice that this is one of the biggest differentiators of the two. 

eCommerce is a growing portion of sales for nearly all companies. It’s expected that by the year 2020, eCommerce will be 12% of all sales in the United States. There are many reasons companies are turning to the digital world to land more sales. Let’s take a look at a few of the different benefits, and drawbacks, of eCommerce. 

The usage of eCommerce continues to grow year after year. Companies are increasingly becoming more digital and the number of customers purchasing online is only going to keep getting higher — but how does mobile commerce come into play? Image courtesy of Statista.

Advantages of eCommerce

So, why is eCommerce so important in the retail industry? It provides retailers with a number of benefits that physical retail stores cannot offer. As you continue to read further, you’ll find that these benefits not only apply to eCommerce but many overlaps and apply to the mobile commerce world as well. 

  1. Increased sales potential: eCommerce sites can be reached at any hour of the day. This means that customers can purchase items at 3 a.m. when they can’t sleep, or 11 p.m. when they get off of their nursing shift. 
  2. Less invasive shopping experience: Many people do not enjoy the shopping experience of physically going into a store. There are often too many people and sales associates their shopping experience. An online shopping experience allows customers to browse without the pressure of in-store employees.
  3. Improved customer data: As customers shop on your eCommerce website, you can collect more data from them than if they were to shop in-store. This allows you to get to know your customers and provide them with more personalized products and experiences. 
The more personalized you can make the experience for your customers, the more likely you’re going to land additional sales. Not only does eCommerce improve data collection to create more personalized experiences, but it can also help your company appeal to the impulse buyer with that information. Image courtesy of Business Glitz

Disadvantages of eCommerce 

If we are going to compare eCommerce and mCommerce, it’s important to take a look at the drawbacks and limitations of each. Here’s a quick look at a few of the common disadvantages that come with eCommerce sites. 

  1. Site downtime: Whether your site is unavailable due to maintenance or unexpectantly crashed, customers cannot make purchases. This is a huge disadvantage of eCommerce sites. Keep in mind, if your site doesn’t load in 2 seconds or less, 79% of shoppers say they won’t return to purchase an item — that means if your site is down, you may have lost that customer. 
  2. Shoppers can’t try products out: Many people are still leery to purchase products online because they cannot physically touch, feel, or try items on. People don’t want to be tasked with having to return an item after they find out it isn’t of the quality they were expecting. 
  3. Fear of fraud: Security can be a big concern for many shoppers when it comes to purchasing items online. In fact, 22% of people choose not to shop online because they do not trust that their information will be secure.
There are a number of drawbacks when it comes to eCommerce. This chart shows a few we discussed, and a few of the other common reasons people are less likely to shop online for their products. Image courtesy of V12

Now, let’s take a look at what exactly mCommerce is and how the advantages and disadvantages compared to those of eCommerce. 

Step 2: Understanding mCommerce

You may not be surprised to learn that mCommerce is very similar to eCommerce. It really is just a specialized version of eCommerce — with a focus on mobile devices. mCommerce allows people to purchase products and services from their mobile devices anywhere, at any time. 

Mobile commerce is a quickly growing portion of eCommerce and is expected to be nearly 53% of all retail eCommerce sales by 2021. This means that not only do you want to be investing in an awesome eCommerce platform, but you also should be investing in a mobile shopping experience to go along with it. 

The use of mobile commerce is growing each year and is only expected to continue growing rapidly for years to come. It’s expected that in future years, mCommerce will take over a large portion of the online shopping market. Image courtesy of HuffPost

When considering the advantages and disadvantages of mCommerce, you most consider that those of eCommerce apply as well. Since mCommerce is simply a more advanced form of eCommerce — everything we’ve already discussed leading up to this still applies. 

But mCommerce comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages on top of the traditional eCommerce.

Advantage of mCommerce 

  1. Accessibility: Customers can make purchases anywhere, without the need to have a desktop or laptop computer on hand. They could be on a beach ordering sunscreen or on a plane headed to their next business trip and they can still purchase items (as long as they have internet access at these locations). 
  2. Potential for increased sales: As we’ve mentioned before, you can reach customers who may not want to, or can’t come into a physical retail store during store hours. This increases the chances that consumers can purchase from you if they can do it on their own time. Also, as we continue to see an increase in mobile usage, there will be more consumers looking to make purchases via their mobile devices. 
  3. Improved customer experience: With the increase in data such as customer locations, you can continue to improve the customer experience. Provide them with coupon offers based on location and personalized product recommendations to increase sales. 
The use of mobile commerce continues to grow in a number of different industries — while others may not show as much growth as others. This is something to consider when you are comparing the two options for your company. Image courtesy of Smart Insights

Disadvantages of mCommerce 

Now let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages that come with jumping into the mobile commerce world. 

  1. Poor customer experience: As with websites, a poor mobile experience can deter a customer from returning to your site. If your mobile experience is not optimized or is simply not mobile-friendly — you’re wasting your time with mobile commerce.
  2. Laws and regulation limitations: There are a number of laws and regulations that come into play for mCommerce. It’s important to know these and stay compliant in all cities, states, and countries that you may be selling products to. 
  3. Customers can easily compare products: Just as easy as a consumer found your mobile site, they can do the same for your competitor’s site. People now have the ability to switch screens on their phones and compare products and prices — making it a more competitive market. 
A poor customer experience will send visitors looking to another website for what they are looking for — and they may never come back. Make sure your site is easy to use and people have the best possible shopping experience they can. Image courtesy of Business 2 Community

Now that we’ve taken a look at each of the different ways consumers are shopping in today’s retail world, let’s take a look at the biggest differences of each. 

The Big Differences Between eCommerce and mCommerce 

These are the true differentiators when it comes to eCommerce and mCommerce, and could very well be the deciding factor to move forward with a mobile commerce strategy. Let’s compare these three ideas: reaching customers where they are, location tracking for improved experiences, and improved security measures. 

Reaching Customers 

Can reach customers anywhere: planes, trains, at the office, the grocery store, on the beach, the list can go on foreverCan reach customers when a desktop or laptop is available: at home, the office, a library, a friend or family member’s house

Knowing Where Customers Are 

Track customer locations and Wi-Fi to provide the content based on where they are with personalized content.Can only track desktop or computer IP address and does not know what customer are doing beyond their internet browsing experience. Personalization is possible, just limited. 

Addressing Security Concerns 

It provides customers the regular security measures such as multi-level authentication, but also offers added security through face ID and fingerprint recognition technology. 
Customers have a typical authentication process that generally includes a multi-level authentication process. Beyond that, there are no additional measures in place.

Which style of commerce is best for your company? 

Now that we’ve taken a look at the two different styles of commerce, which fits the needs of your company the best? The well-known and established world of eCommerce, or the new, up and coming world of mCommerce? Either way, you’ll find there is an opportunity for sales growth on both ends. 


akshay pai

I am a data science engineer and I love working on machine learning problems. I have experience in computer vision, OCR and NLP. I love writing and sharing my knowledge with others. This is why I created Source Dexter. Here I write about Python, Machine Learning, and Raspberry Pi the most. I also write about technology in general, books and topics related to science. I am also a freelance writer with over 3 years of writing high-quality, SEO optimized content for the web. I have written for startups, websites, and universities all across the globe. Get in Touch! We can discuss more.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: