9 Important Mobile Commerce Trends for 2016

Reading Time: 11 minutes

If you aim to beat your competitors on mobile commerce in 2016, there are many mobile commerce trends that you can study and incorporate in your strategy.

There are 3.65 billion unique global users that are on their mobile devices. That’s a significant number of potential customers to advertise and sell your products to and that number is only expected to rise as mobile devices become more accessible and more affordable.

With mobile now becoming a primary access point to online retail for consumers, it’s time to rethink your mobile commerce strategy and how you deliver your online shopping experience on a wide range of mobile devices.

But first, what is mobile commerce or m-commerce?

what is mcommerce

Keep up with your 3.65 billion potential customers stay ahead of the competition with these 9 mobile commerce trends anticipated throughout 2016.

Increase in mobile wallet use

This 2016, interest and reliance over mobile wallets will rise as it continues to make online shopping more convenient and accessible to consumers. 56% of shoppers actually favor the advantage of being able to pay via mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, Visa Checkout, and PayPal for online purchases.

mobile wallet use statistics

Based on Walker Sands’ 2015 Future of Retail Study, Google Wallet is a widely used mobile wallet, followed by Apple Pay, and Samsung Wallet.

Apple Pay is slowly gaining popularity with Apple claiming that 80% of Apple Watch users are in fact using Apple Pay for their payments. The Samsung Wallet is a potentially strong competitor, working with all terminals that accept credit cards even those that are not NFC-enabled.

Mobile wallets have long been around since 2012. These function like traditional wallets, but in a digital form. It can hold digital information of your credit cards and debit cards and it can also store loyalty cards, tickets, vouchers, and even coupons for faster and smoother transactions.

This 2016, do expect a surge in mobile wallet use as more retailers upgrade their terminals and more companies make their technology more competitive with new standards and features, engaging customers and driving consumer behavior towards cashless transactions.

The benefits of mobile wallets work both ways for the customer and the business owner.

One, there is reduced fraud in mobile wallet payments since these are harder to duplicate or steal than cash or credit and debit cards.

Another benefit is it decreases payment time. A purchase is completed with just a few clicks on the mobile payment app. There is also no need to carry cash or credit cards with mobile wallets around.

More importantly, it fosters customer loyalty. When shopping is made easier and more convenient, customers can expect the same ease after every purchase.

Start integrating digital wallets as one of the mobile commerce trends you will adopt in your ecommerce strategy and gear up for substantial growth this 2016.

Transition from mobile web to store app

89% of media time in mobile devices are spent on apps, highlighting more than ever the importance of transitioning from a mobile website to a store app.

A store app can make it a lot easier for your customers to shop from you. Have one developed and get the word out about it by announcing it on your website or on your social media channels.

mobile app groupon

Although a mobile app functions a lot like a mobile website, a mobile app allows you to have your own little corner in your customer’s device.

Through push notifications, you can consistently send announcements about your latest promos, sales and updates about your loyalty programs even if the mobile app is closed. Unlike a mobile website where your customers need to load it first on their browser, you have more control over your presence with a store app.

And if you want to take your loyalty program to the next level, let customers collect rewards and points via your store app. This not only results into more store app downloads, but more repeat and happy customers.

More importantly, having a store app cultivates brand recognition. This can work side by side the concept of effective frequency or the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message in order to elicit a reaction.

The more your customers see your app on their device and the more often you can get them involved with it, the sooner they will become inclined to use your store app and start buying products. Try it!

Need for more video content

One of many mobile commerce statistics to consider as you plan your mobile strategy this year is that by 2017, video content will take up 69% of consumer internet traffic, which is equivalent to almost 4x as much as web browsing and email. Come 2019, that statistic is expected to rise to 79%.

Are your current video content marketing efforts enough to cover this growing appreciation?

mobile commere trends instagram videos

If you haven’t incorporated video in your mobile marketing efforts yet, start with 15-second videos featuring your team saying “Thank you” to your new customers or to your customers that you are upselling to. 15-second videos are also great for customer testimonials and reviews that can help boost your sales.

Animated GIFs on how to set-up your product or how to use your tool is also a fantastic way to get started with video content.

As you get more immersed doing videos, you can do extended customer testimonials running for around 3 to 5 minutes. Consider creating longer product demonstrations also to give your products more context.

With internet connectivity only getting better as time goes on, video content is more accessible via mobile devices and will certainly gain popularity. The future of mobile commerce definitely includes video content.

Start pooling your marketing team and experiment with different video outputs on YouTube. Upload videos directly on Facebook and take advantage of the autoplay function. Give your storytelling a twist and take inspiration from these brands that have used Instagram Video.

Make store content more personalized

One of 2016’s mobile commerce trends has to do with big data in making the mobile shopping experience personalized for every customer. With competition growing stronger, personalization is truly the future of mobile commerce.

Big data and its insights mimic the small-shop experience wherein a shopkeeper already knows what a customer will buy upon entering the store based on prior purchases, preferences, and conversations.

what is big data

Big data allows brands to get to know their customers deeper and help predict trends in order to deliver memorable and personal interactions. Big data contributes to mobile commerce growth by helping brands create personalized product recommendations.

Amazon pioneered this automated and collaborative filtering process in the early 2000’s, giving away product recommendations to customers based on their profiles and their browsing and buying behavior.

Also through big data, Target uses its wealth of customer information to predict future purchasing habits. For instance, pregnancy triggers a string of related purchases. If based on previous purchases, customer A bought cocoa butter, a bag large enough to hold diapers, and health supplements, it is enough for Target to assume and assign customer A a “pregnancy prediction” score, making all product recommendations, promo codes, and vouchers sent her way all related to her pregnancy and journey to parenthood.

But there’s more to big data than relevant, although slightly creepy, product recommendations.

With big data, brands also have access to different kinds of contextual information, such as geolocation, social information, campaign referrals, customer service logs, mobile usage, and email engagement, making targeting and personalization even more accurate and relevant.

A lot of brands are relying on big data as a basis for their competitive advantage.

Kohl’s, for instance, tested real-time, personalized offers in five of its stores. If based on data a shopper spent time in the shoe department, but never bought anything, the shopper will receive a coupon on the shoe styles she browsed over.

Target, once again, also uses big data insights from social networks to monitor and track sentiments on Twitter whenever a new product is released or when a designer collaboration is launched. Big data is a great tool to identify the market’s general, real-time pulse.

Vera Bradley, a seller of quilted bags, relied on big data to know what shoppers want to receive as promotions on their emails. They stopped sending out blanket email promos and instead focused on targeted offers based on individual purchases. They may have sent out 63% fewer emails based on big data, but they did generate a whopping 275% increase in their conversion rate.

Search is still king

Similar to desktops, the future of mobile commerce is still on search.

This year, it is expected that search will still be the common starting point for mobile research as 48% of consumers are still looking up products on their mobile devices via search engines.

With search being a consistent in every purchasing journey, it is essential to improve your mobile search ranking. How?

First, concentrate on the user experience. More than 22% of the top 30 pages on a mobile search results page have a responsive design, adjusting automatically to suit the screen size of the device a customer is using.

General tip: Keep font sizes of above-the-fold content large to attract attention while keeping below-the-fold font size small to accommodate more details. Also, use fewer images on mobile, less interactive elements, keep lists short, and use bullet points to structure information.

Second, create high-quality and relevant content. Although long content is important on desktop search, high-ranking content on mobile pages tend to be shorter with an average of 867 words on mobile vs. 1,285 words on desktop.

Third, minimize mobile page file sizes to allow fast load times. Content may be important in mobile search rankings, but the technical details of it also matter.

And finally, plan a separate SEO strategy for mobile since tactics that get your pages ranking highly on desktop searches may not be the same on mobile. Mobile is always changing and if you want a decent share of the mobile market, your desktop strategy should be different from mobile.

Although search is expected as a starting point on mobile, it still fares much lower than desktop, thus the importance of mobile websites and branded apps where search is also performed 33% and 26% of the time respectively.

Marketing campaigns focused on mobile

With mobile commerce definition as the growing trend for using wireless and handheld devices in making ecommerce transactions, expect marketing campaigns on mobile to not look anything like online advertising.

For starters, Apple allowing ad blockers in iOS 9 is a clear indication that the old online marketing formats will not work on mobile. Mobile internet ad spend is estimated to be $104.96 billion worldwide this year beating desktop spend significantly as time spent on mobile devices continues to rise.

mobile internet ad spend

Within the estimated mobile internet ad spend, nearly three-fourths will be dedicated towards in-app advertising.

So with increased ad spend on mobile, expect a significant change in formats where there will be less TV commercials and newspaper and magazine editorials, but more interactive video ads, location-based Wi-Fi campaigns, interactive catalogue apps, advocacy apps (e.g. Nivea’s sun protection track your kids app and Halifax’s Home Finder app) and more interesting new mobile ad formats.

Explore new mobile marketing channels

2016 will be largely about improving user experience on mobile. Take inspiration from these highlights as they continuously make the user experience even more convenient on mobile devices.

First is the 360-degree turn for mobile messaging apps. A good case study for this is WeChat in China where it does not function simply as a mobile messaging app, but also as a platform for marketing, mobile commerce, and payments.

Unlike in other countries, WeChat in China has an ‘app-within-an-app’ functionality where brands can create an app on WeChat and users can follow them if they like.

Brands use two accounts, subscriptions and services, to send one-to-many messages to their followers. Brands can also integrate mobile commerce to their accounts, allowing followers to browse through their products, buy, and pay for them without having to leave the WeChat app.

mobile commere trends wechat china

WeChat may be way ahead compared to Facebook as marketing opportunities on the Messenger app are not quite existent yet, but it sure is one of the many exciting mcommerce developments that can be anticipated this 2016.

Another highlight is the move of mobile commerce to go beyond the window shopping experience. Mobile may currently account for less than 2% of all retail sales, but that is expected to change considering how social media platforms have now adopted direct ecommerce functions on their platforms.

social media CTA buttons

Today, Facebook has a ‘Shop Now’ call-to-action, Instagram also has a ‘Shop Now’ button under posts, and Pinterest has “Buyable Pins”, improving the buying journey immensely on mobile devices.

And finally, with increased use of location targeting and reliance on automation platforms, mobile commerce in 2016 is poised to become the age of mobile couponing.

Gone are the days when consumers have to cut coupons from magazines and newspapers to enjoy discounts. 44% of consumers are interested in receiving coupons on their mobile devices, so if sending deals and promos on mobile are still not part of your mcommerce strategy this year, start incorporating it today to improve user experience.

Cross-device shopping implementation

When we say mobile devices, we are not just talking about smartphones. Mobile devices also include tablets and laptops that consumers use as they shop from their favorite ecommerce brands. It takes approximately 2.6 devices before a purchase is made; hence, one of the mobile commerce trends to take into consideration is to make cross-device shopping possible for your brand.

multi-device shopping

For a successful cross-device shopping implementation, enable your store on desktop, mobile website, and store app with a User ID feature. This is the value a shopper sends to Google Analytics that signifies that he / she is an authentic user. A User ID counts the number of unique users more accurately, connecting different customer sessions and devices together towards conversion.

Make it easy for your customers to shop using multiple devices as you do not know how and where their purchase journey will start and be like.

Some may begin the journey on a desktop computer at work, followed by a continuation of their product browsing on their smartphone as they wait for their bus stop, continue the search on a tablet, and finally seal the purchase with their smartphone.

Ensure that your mobile website or store app is usable regardless of the device’s screen size and more importantly, keep the contents of the shopping cart intact and updated regardless if they switched mobile devices unlimited times.

In-store mobile devices

Research shows that mobile devices improve customers’ in-store shopping experiences, which in turn increases revenue.

According to Nielsen, there is a worldwide desire for mobile options provided that brands offer them. 66% of worldwide online customers are willing to use a store’s Wi-Fi connection to search for product information in-store and receive offers while they are within the shop’s premises.

Some business owners may view this as a costly service, but a study from Deloitte shows that consumers who use their mobile devices as they shop in-store convert at a 20% higher rate compared to those that do not. Also from the same study, 39% of shoppers who receive coupons and promos will shopping in-store actually tend to spend more.

This 2016, allow your digitally-influenced shoppers to use their mobile devices as they shop in-store. Likewise, adopt the use mobile point-of-sale (POS) devices to centralize and streamline critical in-store activities from order taking and finalizing purchases to accepting payments and business reporting for your employees.

To enhance the shopping experience for customers online, brands must see to it to provide their associates with access to real-time customer data and product information to encourage more in-store interactions.

If you are a brand that operates online and in-store, consider in-store mobile devices in giving you a huge lift not only in efficiency, but also an increase in your bottom line.

Extra: Biggest Challenges For 2016

Mobile commerce may be filled with a lot of mobile commerce growth potential, but it is definitely not free from any challenges.

One of the challenges of mobile commerce has to do with security and safety issues.

Especially with mobile wallets or the mere act of paying for goods using a smartphone while being outdoors, there is always that perceived risk that someone may be looking over your shoulder and stealing your personal and payment details. Others, on the other hand, are concerned with viruses attacking their mobile devices, leading to theft.

Safety and security issues on mobile devices can easily be overcome. One good way to solve this is for consumers to submit and store their personal and payment details at the physical store of the brand they are buying from. Another solution is to offer PayPal, a highly trusted payment option.

Paypal trusted payment option

Another challenge of mobile commerce is the limits of small screen sizes.

Some customers may be hesitant to purchase items using their smartphones because of their inability to get a good look and feel of a particular product. Unless they are already familiar with the product or if the appearance does not concern them as much as the price, customers may think twice of purchasing items using their mobile devices.

This can be overcome by allowing mobile shoppers to zoom photos or by showing products from different angles. Shoppers can also opt to browse products on tablets, which have bigger screens than smartphones.

Finally, one of the challenges of mobile commerce is internet speed as slow and unstable connections may mean getting cut off in the middle of an online transaction. It may be a challenge now, but being optimistic pays off. The shopping experience on mobile is expected to get better as we move on to faster networks and technologies.


Ring in 2016 with mobile commerce forming a significant portion of your ecommerce growth strategy.

Keep in mind these 9 mobile commerce trends and also have a close watch at how mcommerce will transpire this year.

Right now, what’s important is to take these tips to mind and implement them and start measuring your success. Maybe majority of these 2016 trends are things that you already do or are improvements you can simply add to your existing mobile commerce growth strategy.

What about you – what are your mobile commerce plans this 2016?

About the Author

John Komarek is the founder of Pixelter. He helped over 63 e-commerce businesses boost their mobile sales by up to 183.5%. He uses advanced UX research, A/B testing, and AI-driven personalization to deliver the results. Learn more about how he can help you grow your sales.

The Ultimate Guide:

29 Steps To Boost Mobile Sales

We’ll share with you proven techniques that helped our customers achieve up to 57.3% boost in mobile sales.

[mc4wp_form id="19816"]

[mc4wp_form id="19736"]