Difference Between eCommerce and M-commerce

Updated · Jun 28, 2022

With the advent of the internet, businesses have been quick to take advantage of the new opportunities for selling their products and services online. eCommerce, or electronic commerce, refers to online transactions between buyers and sellers. 

However, a new type of commerce has arisen recently: M-commerce. Many wonder what the difference between m-commerce and ecommerce is.

Well, rather than being something distinct from it, m-commerce is a subset of ecommerce. Interestingly, it does differ in a few ways from its “parent”. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at how m-commerce and ecommerce differ in some key areas, the importance of optimizing for mobile users, and the possible future of m-commerce in the ecommerce sphere.

How M-commerce and eCommerce Differ

M-Commerce differs from ecommerce in that it is done on a mobile device rather than a desktop device.

Sounds like a small enough detail, but this means that it also differs in how it works and how people interact with it.

Smartphones come with different features and opportunities compared to desktops, and people use them differently, too. 

Mobility

The first difference in ecommerce vs m commerce, is that m-commerce takes place on mobile devices, people can shop from anywhere. This offers flexibility for buyers and for sellers.

Sellers can make use of “flash sales” and set them to coincide with the times people will be on their phones. 

For example, a business based in New York can set flash sales to coincide with commute times because thousands of people will be sitting on trains and buses and likely be on their phones.

Speaking of multiple locations…

Location Tracking

Another difference is that m-commerce makes it possible for businesses to track the location of their customers and offer them targeted deals and promotions based on their current location. 

Through m-commerce apps, brick and mortar stores can detect whether someone is near one of their locations and so entice them in.

This is done through location services built into the mobile devices and can also help with security.

Security 

M-commerce transactions are often more secure than desktop ones because of how “intergrated” mobile devices are. The device is password or fingerprint-protected and usually requires such login info every time someone uses it.

Moreover, mobiles are most commonly used for 2-factor authentication. Many apps such as PayPal now support passwordless login through fingerprinting or OTPs they can automatically detect your device.

This makes mobile devices very secure and often a preferred method for conducting transactions.

Offline Payments

A major way that shows how m-commerce is different than ecommerce is that it actually has some offline applications too. Phones being used for payments at brick and mortar stores also fall under the banner of m-commerce. 

This includes tools like Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, where the mobile is used instead of a debit or credit card.

This is one way in which m-commerce, and by extension ecommerce, has impacted commerce at large.

It appears that as time goes on, this trend will grow further. 

Omnichannel Selling

Omnichannel selling allows sellers to advertise and conduct transactions through multiple channels.

Desktops can do this to a degree, but the experience on mobiles is far more integrated. The comparison between m-commerce vs ecommerce is quite multifaceted, but in terms of omnichannel engagement, mobile marketing often has the edge.

M-commerce allows a seller to advertise and track across multiple social media apps, constantly pushing users towards their app or browser-based store.

An additional benefit for traders is the rich data that can be gathered to further optimize sales and widen their reach.

The Importance of a Good Mobile Experience on Your Website/App

As you can see, in today's world, it's more important than ever to have a good mobile experience for your website and app. 

Because more people are using their phones and tablets to access the internet, and if your site isn't optimized for mobile devices, you're likely to lose out on a lot of traffic.

Nearly a quarter of the planet shops online, after all. 

If you want a mental picture of how m-commerce and ecommerce are related to each other, think of the first as being a beam that helps hold the second up.

Moreover, a bad mobile experience can damage your brand reputation and make it difficult for customers to do business with you. To avoid these problems, it's essential to make sure that your site is responsive and that your app provides a great user experience. 

By making your website and app mobile-friendly, you can ensure that your customers have a positive experience with your brand, no matter how they choose to access your site.

A great tool for this purpose are landing page builders. The best ones allow you to preview your pages in the desktop and mobile formats, so you can see the ecommerce vs m-commerce view.

They’re also optimized for speed, which is critical for mobile users.

Examples to Consider 

There are a number of websites you can look at if you want to see practical examples of sites that are optimized for m-commerce.

Amazon

Amazon is basically the king of ecommerce, with over 310 million users, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has everything in place to take full advantage of the mobile space.

If you visit it on both desktop and mobile, you’ll notice that it’s well optimized in terms of its speed and its user interface. 

On the App Store, and Google Play Store, it has millions of downloads, and an average of 4.5-stars, which shows the quality of Amazon m-commerce.

Alibaba

Alibaba, the world's largest ecommerce company, has been increasingly focusing on m-commerce in recent years. Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall platforms are already leaders in the Chinese m-commerce market, and the company is now looking to expand its reach overseas. 

One of the ways Alibaba is doing this is by investing in other m-commerce companies, such as Lazada and related companies like Paytm.

In addition, the company is working on developing its own Alibaba m-commerce platform, which it plans to launch in India later this year. 

With nearly 1 billion mobile users in China and India combined, there is huge potential for growth in the m-commerce market.

Online shopping has taken over in recent years, largely thanks to m-commerce. This trend will continue thanks to it too. We’re increasingly moving towards a “paperless” society in more ways than one, and a mobile device takes the place of a wallet, credit card, and even ID document. 

While m-commerce sales are lagging behind ecommerce sales at large, this is only temporary.

Consider the role of mobile devices in esports, particularly in “emerging markets”, i.e. regions like South America, Africa, and Asia. What this indicates is that mobile devices are a practical solution for people who don’t have the space or means to use desktops. 

Understanding the difference between ecommerce and mcommerce becomes even more important when you realize this:

Smartphones are becoming the main way in which the majority of the world interacts with the web.

Conclusion

So now you know the difference between m-commerce and ecommerce: M-commerce is an aspect of the latter that could well become its main form in the years to come. 

This means that whether you’re simply a consumer or a seller, you must get familiar with m-commerce, and understand how it can benefit you.

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Garan VR
Garan VR

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.