Mobile Commerce Trends & Statistics 2021

Mobile commerce trends and statistics featured image

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Published: 28 May 2021


What is m-commerce?

m-commerce, short for mobile commerce, is the practice of using a mobile device to pay for goods and services online.

Did You Know?

The term ‘mobile commerce’ first appeared in 1997, when Kevin Duffey used it to describe “the delivery of electronic commerce capabilities directly into the consumer’s hand, anywhere, via wireless technology”.

m-commerce vs ecommerce

Whereas m-commerce refers to the practice of buying and selling through a mobile device, the term ecommerce encompasses any transactions made – and paid for – online. In this sense, m-commerce can be seen as just one arm of ecommerce; a Russian doll, slotting into its slightly larger counterpart.

m-commerce, then, is ecommerce – just tailored to the mobile experience.

And, just as increased computer ownership and the post-dotcom boom saw ecommerce blow up, the inexorable growth of smartphone ownership is seeing m-commerce rise, too.

In 2012, just over one billion people in the world owned a smartphone. By 2023, that figure is expected to reach a mind-boggling 4.3 billion – which, for perspective, is well over half of the earth’s current population.

m-commerce is the fusion of two of humanity’s most treasured pastimes – buying things, and owning the latest smartphone.

Is it any surprise we’ve gotten so good at it?

m-commerce: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

We probably didn’t need a reason to do any more shopping online, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic certainly gave us one.

The COVID-19 enforced shutting down of high streets everywhere meant paying for things with our smartphones graduated from being a mere convenience, to a full-blown necessity. And the statistics prove it.

Across the pond, the $861.12 billion spent with US merchants in 2020 was up an astounding 44% year on year. That’s triple 2019’s growth, and makes it the biggest upturn the country’s online spending rate has seen in over 20 years.

From a global perspective, online sales rose to $26.7 trillion in 2020 to make up almost a fifth (19%) of all retail sales. In the UK, that split was even more weighted towards ecommerce, with nearly a quarter (23.3%) of all retail sales being of the digital variety.

So what about mobile commerce?

Well, after many years of stagnation, a pandemic turned out to be just what smartphone shopping needed. In the UK, m-commerce rose a whopping 73% year-on-year in 2020, as more and more Britons turned to their devices for a diversion from the disease.

Did You Know?

For UK online-only fashion retailer In the Style, sales via its mobile app rose by more than 400% in the year ending 31st March 2021.

All in all, m-commerce sales made up over half (55%) of In the Style’s sales for that period, compared to a mere 19% the year before.

But just how meteoric has the rise of m-commerce been in the last couple of years or so? Let’s take a deeper dive into the data.

Man using phone to pay for goods and services

Mobile commerce statistics

Here are 30 mobile commerce statistics that you need to know for 2021:

Growth in m-commerce

1. m-commerce retail sales in the UK are expected to reach £105 billion by 2024.

2. The UK’s mobile consumer spend is expected to increase 181% by 2025, outstripping the growth rates of both France (170%) and Germany (164%).

3. In January 2021, UK online sales grew 74% year-on year.

4. UK m-commerce sales, however, hit the stratosphere, with a 1% growth rate for the same period.

5. Mobile app downloads in 2020 increased by 24% to 143 billion.

6. The mobile app market is expected to generate a revenue of almost $692 billion in 2021 alone.

Shopping

7. M-commerce accounts for over half (54%) of total ecommerce sales.

8. Globally, consumer spending on mobile alone is projected to total $270 billion by 2025.

9. 79% of smartphone users have used their mobile device to make a purchase online within the past six months.

10. At 66.7%, the UK has the second highest percentage of mobile shoppers (as a proportion of all internet shoppers) in Europe. Only Germany has more.

11. However, the UK’s customers led the way for total spend in 2020. At $2.9 billion, Briton’s outspent both the Germans ($2.8 billion) and the French ($1.7 billion).

12. Of all the sites visited by UK-based m-commerce buyers, Amazon is the most popular.

13. Over a quarter ($2.2 billion) of the $7.9 billion splurged on 2018’s Cyber Monday was spent via smartphones.

14. The conversion rate for shoppers on mobile in Q3 2020 was 2.9%. This was actually the lowest compared to other devices, including desktop (5.74%), tablet (4.41%), and ‘other’ (13.63%).

15. The average m-commerce order value in Q3 2020 was $66.80. This was the lowest compared to other devices, including desktop ($93.46), tablet ($79.15), and ‘other’ ($131.86).

16. Only 12% of polled consumers find mobile shopping convenient.

17. 80% of shoppers use a mobile device – rather than going to a physical shop – to search product reviews and compare prices.

18. Around one-third of a consumer’s decision to make a purchase is influenced by using their mobile device to unearth extra information.

19. In Q1 2020 in the UK, the penetration rate of online shopping among smartphone users was over one-third (34%).

Consumer using a smartphone

Mobile payments and banking

20. Mobile payments are set to replace debit cards as the UK’s most popular way to pay by 2022.

21. 74% of the UK’s population use mobile devices to manage their finances.

22. By 2023, more than a quarter (25.5%) of the UK’s population will be making in-store payments via their smart mobile devices.

23. Unsurprisingly, tech-savvy Generation Z (specifically, the 18 to 23 age bracket) had the highest rate of mobile and digital payment usage in 2020.

24. 45% of Gen Z consumers used a mobile wallet to pay for a purchase in 2020.

25. Boomers are the slowest generation to embrace mobile wallet payments. In 2020, just 20% of this group made a purchase via their smartphone.

26. In 2019, 8% of all UK retailers offered some form of digital payment method.

27. The total value of payments made with a mobile app device in 2020 came to a whopping $503 billion globally.

28. In 2019, there were around £8.3 million mobile payment users in the UK.

29. Around one in every 20 fraud attacks is the result of a rogue mobile app.

30. 60% of fraudulent transactions in Q4 2019 came from a mobile browser.


Mobile commerce trends

Smartphone ownership is on the rise, an ongoing pandemic is fuelling more virtual ways of doing business, and mobile wallets are easier to use – and more widely accepted – than ever before.

Now, with a tech-hungry generation growing into themselves, cryptocurrency expanding its influence over the finance landscape, and 5G set to open even more doors, it’s no surprise that m-commerce is booming.

From voice purchases to augmented reality, let’s take a look at some of the trends taking mobile commerce all the way to the top.

One-click payments for a faster checkout experience

If there’s anything we humans like more than buying stuff online, it’s things being easy to do. Pair the two together, and you’ll get something that looks a lot like one-click payments.

Amazon has been onto this particular trend for a while now, but it’s recently been jumped on by social media platforms (Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook in particular) too, to capitalise on the thing UK shoppers covet most: convenience.

Did You Know?

Amazon’s 1999 patent on one-click payment technology – which was licensed by Apple in 2000 – expired in 2017.

Time to start an ecommerce business, anybody?

When one-click payments are enabled, a consumer typically only has to enter their card and address details the first time they buy from a website. For subsequent purchases, all their info is saved, making for a slicker, more seamless experience at the virtual checkout.

It’s not hard to see why so many of retail’s top names are embracing this particular mobile commerce trend.

Traditionally, m-commerce doesn’t have the best conversion rates. Whether this is down to a poor user experience across the board, the comparative comfort of using a tablet, or the small screens inevitably involved with mobile purchases, m-commerce’s checkout abandonment rate is a high one.

Average checkout abandonment rates in 2021

  • Desktop: 73.07%
  • Tablet: 80.74%
  • Mobile: 85.65%

Source: Barilliance

One-click purchases, then, should do a lot to reverse this historical trend, making the m-commerce customer experience both more convenient and more expedient – not to mention a heck of a lot more tempting!

Sites becoming better optimised for mobile

“A widescreen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary mobile phone. And a breakthrough internet device.”

When Steve Jobs first promised the above at an expo in January 2007, people were shocked when he unveiled not three separate devices, but rather a single piece of technology – the iPhone. Jobs’s words, however, were also prophetic, in that they predicted how smartphones have come to dominate the way we search for, consume, and share information in 2021.

For many of us, our phones are our computers. They’re where we browse, research, and part with our money. We also know that mobile shoppers are fickle. They will skim, they will scan, and – if your site isn’t set up well to handle smartphone users – they will skedaddle.

Did You Know?

More than half (52.2%) of all website traffic is generated by – you guessed it – mobiles!

If you’re running a business, and your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re missing a trick. After all, 61% of customers say they’re more likely to purchase from smartphone-friendly sites – so it’s fair to say that they’re one of the biggest mobile commerce trends we’ll see going forward.

Here are just a few ways in which you can start to set your site up for (mobile) success:

  • Choose a reliable web hosting service
  • Use a responsive WordPress theme
  • Ensure that any payment gateway you’re using has been customised to fit the look and feel of your website
  • Optimise your images and site content to drive down page load speeds
  • Create a mobile app

And remember, optimising your site for mobile audiences isn’t merely a ‘tick box’. It’s a constant process, and one that you’ll need to keep revisiting by seeking regular feedback, testing your site with Google’s free tools, and keeping your site’s UX (user experience) as clean and clutter-free as possible.

Did You Know?

Mobile-optimised sites are a paid marketer’s dream. A massive 52% of PPC (pay-per-click) sessions come through mobile users, while over half of YouTube visits also come via mobile devices.

Progressive web apps

On average, an app will lose 20% of its users between the first contact a customer has with it, and the first time they actually utilise it.

Given what we already know about the power of the mobile when it comes to making sales, that’s one in five potential customers, simply gone – before they’ve even engaged with your app!

This is where progressive web apps (PWAs) come in.

PWAs are, essentially, websites that are engineered to look, feel, and behave like native mobile apps. Unlike these native apps, though, PWAs don’t need to be downloaded from a third-party app store. They won’t sit on your phone, taking up valuable homepage real estate and forcing you to delete other apps to make space.

Rather, you can securely (and quickly!) download PWAs straight to your phone. Like native apps, they can send you push notifications, operate across multiple browsers, and – in some cases – even work offline. There are few of the development costs involved with getting a conventional app off the ground, and PWAs can even offer superior security setups than their native counterparts.

The benefits of PWAs as a hot mobile commerce trend, then, are crystal clear:

  • No more user drop-off at the stage of app download, meaning more shoppers will access your site
  • Offline access, so customers can browse and buy even in the absence of an internet connection
  • Quick loading speeds, meaning less incentive for time-pressed consumers to vacate the premises before checking out your catalogue
  • Push notifications allowing you to send instant discounts, offers, reminders, and product news straight to your customer base’s phones
  • Member logins, meaning you can access more granular data relating to your users’ purchase history and marketing preferences, and foster enhanced customer loyalty
Did You Know?

Progressive web apps result in 50% more customer engagement, as well as boasting a 36% higher conversion rate than native apps.

It can give the size of your customer base a caffeine hit, too. Starbucks’ PWA has doubled the coffee giant’s daily active user base since its implementation!

Mobile chatbots

You’re probably already familiar with chatbots – AI (Artificial Intelligence)-powered tools that help you navigate a website, seek customer support, and find the right product for you.

Consumer using a chatbot on a mobile device

But did you know that chat bots are big business? With research suggesting that chatbots will be responsible for driving $112 billion in retail sales by 2023, these agreeable automatons appear poised to play a commanding role in m-commerce’s future.

Did You Know?

Chatbots can save a business up to 30% in customer support costs.

Mobile wallets

Of course, when it comes to buying something online, a consumer needs more than a chatbot, a progressive web app, and a mobile-optimised site.

They need a safe, secure, and simple way of paying, too – and mobile wallets offer just that. With the big names including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay (formerly Android Pay), these wallets allow smartphone users to store virtual copies of their credit cards, tickets, and even QR codes and access passes for subscription-based services, all within their mobile device.

Did You Know?

The UK accounts for a quarter of Europe’s total digital transaction value (around $164 billion), making it the biggest digital payments market on the continent.

Consumer paying for coffee with a mobile device

Mobile wallets offer a whole host of benefits for merchants, including security (they’re compliant with recent EU payments legislation, such as PSD2 and SCA), as well as a reduced risk of card payment fraud and chargebacks.

For the cardholder, they’re just extremely convenient!

That’s probably why us simplicity-oriented Brits have been so quick on the uptake. One 2019 report suggested that more than four-fifths (81%) of UK citizens were using some form of online payment, with mobile wallets specifically gaining around a million more adopters each year.

In fact, by 2023, it’s expected that almost 12 million UK residents will rely on their phones as their primary payment method.

Want more? To see how the UK’s mobile wallet journey currently compares to the rest of the world, explore our globe-trotting guide to mapping mobile wallet payments around the world.

Omnichannel commerce

On average, businesses with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain 89% of their customers. 

It’s a neat piece of data that brings to mind two questions.

First – what is omnichannel commerce, exactly?

Well, omnichannel commerce constitutes a multichannel approach to selling.

Broadly, it’s concerned with ensuring a seamless customer experience with your brand and website, across a range of devices and settings.

Omnichannel commerce thinks about what kind of journey your customer is going on, whether that’s:

  • walking through the front door of your bricks and mortar store
  • exploring your site from their desktop computer
  • hitting ‘Buy Now’ from their mobile

Let’s look at an example that illustrates why omnichannel thinking is going to play such an important role in the future of m-commerce.

Suzie

Meet Suzie.

Suzie is preparing to visit the Zara shop in Oxford Circus to do some shopping.

A day earlier, Suzie browsed Zara’s site from her desktop computer – to get an idea for what to buy, and to check stock levels so she’s not disappointed when she arrives in-store. Before setting off, she uses her iPhone to check Zara’s opening hours, and give herself plenty of time to shop.

Arriving at the store, Suzie uses her iPhone to access the web, in order to read up more on certain products. She also finds the perfect dress, but alas – it’s not in her size.

Luckily, though, she’s able to access Zara’s site from her touchscreen, and order the same garment (but in the right size) to her flat. Job done!

Suzie may not be strictly real, but she does represent how real shoppers behave. According to Digital Commerce 360’s 2021 report, in the last six months:

  • 56% of consumers have checked online for a product’s availability at a nearby store
  • 48% have ordered online, before picking up a product in store
  • 35% have ordered online, and picked up from a shop’s drive-through service

Which brings us back to our second question…

Can your business afford to neglect the power of omnichannel commerce?

Did You Know?

Research from Google indicates that 98% of Americans switch between multiple devices in the same day.

Social commerce

Social commerce is just about what it says on the tin: using social media to sell your products.

With social commerce, a customer doesn’t even have to leave their chosen social media platform to make a purchase. Like one-click ordering, everything they need to buy is right there, all available within the self-contained experience of the particular social platform or app they’re using.

While Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have long been fertile grounds for individuals and solopreneurs selling their homemade wares, they also represent tantalising opportunities for bigger businesses – particularly those looking to capitalise on social media’s growing role in mobile commerce.

97.5% of the UK’s social media users access these platforms from their mobiles. In Romania (98.1%), Ireland (98.2%), and Albania (98.8%), social media penetration is even higher – so it’s understandable why social commerce strategies are becoming such a priority for businesses all over Europe, and beyond.

Voice commerce

With smart speakers on the rise – more than one in five UK households (21.1%) has one, and that number is growing – it’s only natural that voice commerce would be hot on their heels.

Did You Know?

Between 2018 and 2020, the number of people using voice assistants on their smartphones rose by 11%.

Voice commerce is the practice of using a virtual assistant (such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Microsoft Cortana) to order products online. This could be through a smart speaker, or directly through a virtual assistant-equipped mobile device, such as a smartphone.

Woman utilising voice commerce on her smartphone

“Hey Siri, find me a new pair of headphones.”

That’s what one significant trend in the future of mobile commerce looks like, and here’s why:

  • Mobile users are three times more likely to utilise voice commerce to shop
  • 31% of the world’s smartphone users use voice search at least once a week
  • The voice recognition market is set to reach $27.16 billion by 2025
  • 71% of consumers prefer voice search over typing
  • 32% of smart speaker owners have synced the device to their smartphone

For the user, it’s a convenient, conversational way to shop – while for your business, it’s a growing source of customers. So how do you equip your online store to be voice commerce victorious?

Well, optimising your site’s copy and content to reflect the way people actually speak is a great start. Avoid overly robotic or complicated language, and speak with the user in mind. From the technical side, you can implement schema markups, and set up product categories and tags for voice searches.

For more info, SmartOSC has a great guide to optimising your site for voice commerce searches.

AR (augmented reality)

If you’ve ever used your mobile to catch Pokémon, gun down zombies, or begin virtual court proceedings while donning the face of a cute kitten, you’ve experimented with some form of AR (augmented reality).

Yet AR isn’t just for messing around (or becoming an internet meme). In fact, it’s emerging as a highly influential trend in the world of mobile commerce.

Consumer using AR to make a purchase

According to Statista, consumer spending on augmented reality mobile apps is forecast to hit a global total of $15.5 million, as early as 2022.

Designed to expand and enhance our vision of ‘reality’ by superimposing layers of digital information onto it, AR is continuing to pick up a litany of commercial uses for shoppers.

Home Depot’s app uses it to help give consumers an idea of what certain products would like in their home, while IKEA’s ‘IKEA Place’* leverages AR to generate furniture recommendations to fit the specific dimensions of a user’s room. Elsewhere, the AR-powered app of cosmetics giant Sephora enables its users to ‘try on’ different shades and colours of makeup – using nothing but their mobile phone.

The world’s biggest brands are already cottoning on. So why should yours pay attention to the opportunities that AR mobile commerce presents?

  • 61% of online shoppers prefer to buy from sites that offer AR technology
  • 35% say AR would make them shop online more frequently
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of customers believe that AR would improve their shopping experience
  • Two in three (65%) online shoppers use AR to learn more about a product
Did You Know?

9 out of 10 brand advertisers say they’re already using – or at least planning to use – AR in their marketing campaigns.

Can your business afford to be the odd one out?

* IKEA was the first brand to embrace AR on its app. Not-so-coincidentally, IKEA Place was also the second most popular app on the App Store when it landed, with 13 million downloads in just six months. Either that’s a lot of people looking for Kallaxes, or AR technology showing some serious promise!**

** We’re banking on the latter.


Advantages of m-commerce

Our breakdowns of the key mobile commerce trends and statistics in 2021 got you hyped? Us too.

So read on, as we break down the top three benefits m-commerce can have for your business.

Wider reach

With smartphone ownership trends mirroring the similarly meteoric rise of m-commerce adoption, embracing mobile commerce technology can expand the breadth of your customer base.

Whether it’s through a social media platform, progressive web app, or alternate dimension, customers are finding increasingly innovative ways to use their smartphones to purchase, bank, and pay. And, as the 2020s mature and this kind of tech enters the mainstream, the world’s consumers will expect you to be able to deliver it.

Adopting mobile commerce practices now has the potential to turn every smartphone user in the world into a potential customer. And, with over half of the planet’s population already the proud owner of a smart mobile device, that’s, well… a lot of customers!

Consumer satisfied with the convenience of mobile commerce

On the go: Reach consumers at the right time

It’s a question email marketers have been labouring with for a generation.

“When’s the best time to reach a customer?”

It’s also one musing that mobile commerce happens to have all but fixed. Because, when the consumers you’re targeting are smartphone users, the answer to the above is a simple one…

All the time.

When you embrace the opportunities m-commerce advertising represents – that is, delivering your messages directly to your customer’s smartphone, exactly when they’re most engaged – you’ll see better results.

In this regard, the biggest m-commerce advantages you need to know about are geo-tracking and programmatic marketing. Through a combination of both, you can see when your customer is browsing your store, then send them tailored offers and discounts to entice them to buy.

The average adult spends almost four hours per day on their smartphone, and few of us leave our homes – even for a walk around the block – without their familiar outline in our pockets.

Done well, targeted m-commerce advertising will not only generate more conversions. It’ll build your brand, and help foster greater customer loyalty to boot.

Convenient

The more convenient something is, the more we’re attracted to it.

Whether that’s a way to shop, bank, pay, or get paid, mobile commerce solutions provide an easier, more effective way of doing things. Similarly, the more convenient you can make your checkout and site experience for the user, the more people will gravitate to your business and brand. It’s that simple!


Disadvantages of m-commerce

Despite most of the current trends being in favour of m-commerce, this stream of revenue won’t be for everyone.

Here are three reasons why you might think twice before implementing a fully realised mobile commerce strategy.

Poor customer experience

Despite all the momentum m-commerce is continuing to generate, there’s still the elephant in the room to sit with. Here, we’re talking about the glaring fact that using such a small screen to do everything just… isn't that enjoyable!

Consumer frustrated with the poor user experience on mobile

In fact, the poor user experience that mobile commerce has historically been maligned for providing is thought to be responsible for some of the industry’s chief setbacks. Most notably, there are its poor conversion rates when compared to computers and tablets, which offer users a much larger screen size to work with.

Did You Know?

The average smartphone screen size is 5.5 inches. For tablets, it’s double that, while the length of a typical computer ranges anywhere from 21 inches to well over 30.

So what can you do about it? Well, when it comes to the screen size of your average smartphone, the answer is: not much!

What you can do, however, is set your mobile-optimised site up for success. That includes:

  • Making the user experience (UX) a smooth one by providing a page overview, and clearly signposting the different parts of your site
  • Eliminating any tech bugs or issues
  • Utilising on-page SEO (search engine optimisation) best practice techniques. These include compressing images – a little trick that helps the page load quicker, and reduces the chance of users ‘bouncing’ off your site straight away – and optimising the article’s internal and external links.
There’s also a whole bunch of stuff you shouldn’t do, too, such as including autoplaying videos, pop-ups, intrusive ads, and any other annoying page elements. For the full list, we’d recommend checking out our guide to avoiding the 9 most common web design mistakes.

Expensive

Okay, okay. Hold on a second.

Augmented reality? Voice commerce? Progressive web apps? It all sounds good… but how much is it all going to cost me?

Herein lies one of the key drawbacks associated with m-commerce – that it tends to be very costly to get set up. Starting your own online business is expensive enough as it is, particularly when you include the outlay involved with designing, creating, and maintaining a website.

And, when you add in the tasks of optimising that website for mobile and voice searches (not to mention formulating strategies for social commerce, too!), the bill starts looking especially long. Plus, there’s also the issue that many businesses (particularly solopreneurs with limited resources, or less tech-savvy sole traders) don’t have the luxury of boasting an entire tech department to hand.

Building an AR-friendly website? Where would you even start?

Our advice would be to keep it simple. Build up your m-commerce strategy bit by bit. Don’t try and do it all at once – start by ensuring that your website looks good and is easy to use. Invest in your SEO and content, and commit to a conversational style – it’ll bear fruit when it comes to ranking for relevant user voice searches.

As your brand and online presence grows, you can continue to invest more in your m-commerce strategy, and spread out the outlay over time. So take it slow, but don’t neglect investment in your mobile commerce strategies entirely – in the long term, they’ll be crucial to your business’ success.

Security and fraud issues

Did You Know?

According to one report, mobile fraud attempts more than doubled between 2018 and 2019.

Unfortunately, there are still lingering security concerns when it comes to mobile devices.

To some extent, this is borne out in the statistics, too, with the majority of fraudulent transactions being made through a mobile browser. Mobile scams – in which a consumer is contacted by a fraudster via a call or text message, and convinced to move money to an external account – are particularly rife.

Mobile user contemplating whether to answer a call from an unknown number

Reassuringly, though, there are benevolent forces working in favour of consumers and merchants everywhere. PSD2 and SCA – recent EU rulings that implemented greater security in m-commerce transactions – has helped, while existing PCI regulations protect customer data. From your side, there’s also a plethora of anti-fraud tools you can employ (such as Accertify and Ravelin) to safeguard you and your customers from harm.

You can also ensure that you’re asking for all the correct AVS (address verification service) and CVV (card verification value) information at the checkout. This helps prevent fraudulent transactions, for one, while also covering your back in case a customer decides to raise a dreaded chargeback.

Did you enjoy our guide to the top mobile commerce trends and statistics in 2021?

Let us know by dropping a line to rob.binns@expertmarket.co.uk, or Tweet @expertmarket to share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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