May 5th, 2015 | 3 MIN READ

Why Mobile Commerce Is Not Ecommerce 2.0

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

There's a big misconception about mobile commerce.

Despite the deadness of malls, the maturation of ecommerce, the dominance of Amazon and closures of numerous brick and mortar shops, over 90% of retail sales still happen offline. It's not uncommon for a large retail brand's online channel to account for less than 10% of sales.

Combine this with statistics of mobile visitors still converting lower than desktop, many business leaders believe the mobile opportunity represents merely a piece of a small pie -- that it's only online shoppers moving to mobile, and cannibalizing desktop sales.

Even if the piece is getting larger proportionately each year, unless mobile is understood as an important part of the offline shopping experience, these leaders will continue to defer investment and miss the mobile opportunity (you may consider it to already be the mobile necessity).

Mobile is not a channel

The idea that mobile is a digital channel is a misconception. Mobile serves all customers - both on-the-go online customers and digitally empowered in-store shoppers through accessible content such as product information and reviews, endless-aisle capabilities, augmented reality, social sharing and more.

Research by Google found 84% of shoppers that own a smartphone use their device to help shop while in a store, with almost half of them using their devices for 15 minutes or more. One in three prefer to use their device to look up information rather than ask store employees, and shoppers who use mobile in-store buy 25-50% more.

Forrester Research predicts 45% of offline retail sales will be influenced by the Web by 2020.

Mobile more than a touchpoint - customers use mobile to access touchpoints beyond your online catalog/storefront including native applications, beacons in-store, social networks and social shopping apps. An omnichannel retailer's mobile strategy needs to account for all the ways customers want to use mobile, and craft the best experiences around them.

Who owns mobile?

Where should responsibility for mobile investment and ownership fall in the omnichannel retail organization? For many, mobile lives under ecommerce. For some, it's a stand-alone silo. And for a few, a leadership role such as the COCO (Chief Omnichannel Officer) exists to oversee and align all customer-facing touchpoint experiences, rather than siloing marketing, stores, ecommerce and mobile.

Keeping mobile siloed can make it more difficult to win executive buy-in, budgetary support, technological investment and human resources to achieve omnichannel integration. Mobile sites will merely become slicker, faster versions of the e-store, missing the bigger opportunity.

Omnichannel retailers still lagging

In an SPS Commerce/RSR survey, 37% of businesses report they are lagging in their omnichannel strategy, exploring omnichannel options but not yet having set a long-term strategy. 32% are are beginning to develop their strategy, 26% are beginning to execute and only 5% have executed most of their strategy.


Image credit: Adobe / Emarketer

It's not just organizational silos that hold retailers back, but also legacy technology that doesn't support shared services, data or analytics. But so long as the organization remains siloed, even updated technology is less likely to be unified without a shared strategic, omnichannel vision.

Digital leaders that understand that it takes both the right organizational structure and technology investments to win in omnichannel retailing won't treat mobile as a channel, but the bridge between marketing, digital and physical, and the key to satisfying customer experiences.

(Next week we'll look at how mobile affects "omnichannel" strategies for online pureplays).

If you're a mid-sized to large enterprise generating more than $20M in digital revenue annually, request access to the 2015 Advanced Commerce Maturity Scale assessment kit from Elastic Path. The Advanced Commerce Maturity Scale is a new way to measure the ability of your company to deliver omnichannel, experience-driven transactions across touchpoints, highlights areas of the business that constrain your ability to succeed, providing both descriptive and visual results to help you fully understand your level of commerce maturity relative to the current standard of excellence.

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