Only a few years ago, M-commerce wasn’t as important as E-commerce. Consumers kept their online shopping to laptop-based browsers. Smartphones were used for research, maybe reading some reviews and price comparisons, but not completing a purchase.

Brands could be forgiven for not investing as much in mobile channels as eCommerce stores.

Now, in 2018, retailers need to have their M-commerce strategy as expertly implemented as every other channel. M-commerce is simply too valuable to ignore. In the U.S, 40 percent of Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales came through smartphones.

We anticipate the popularity of M-commerce stores and shopping apps to continue increasing over the next few years. Consumers prefer and need the convenience of browsing and shopping on their smartphones. Customers want quick, easy and to complete research, reading reviews and buy something in a few clicks, even if that is a relatively high-price item, such as plane tickets or technology.

Retailers and any company that sells products or services online need to stay aware of trends that will keep you agile and give you an advantage. Here are a few trends you need to be ready for in 2018.

M-Commerce in 2018

1. Price sensitive consumers

2017 wasn’t the easiest year for retailers, especially in the UK and Europe. Consumers are over-burdened with debt and shifting towards increased price sensitivity. Although the global economy is healthy, there are a few worrying warning signs, and retailers should expect more of the same in 2018.

Brexit, the act of the UK leaving the EU, will continue to aggravate macro-economic factors in Europe, potentially reducing confidence, with interest rates increasing. Customers will become more price sensitive.

As a result, discounts will reduce margins, making it harder to fight for customers amongst even tougher competition. What this means for retailers and M-commerce store owners is that, anything that can increase revenues, reduce basket abandonment and returns/refunds is worth pursuing. You need to ensure your user-experience (especially at checkout – and when it comes to searching your store) is frictionless, easy-to-use and a positive experience for every customer.

2. Enhance your loyalty schemes

Customers want loyalty and discount schemes, especially when they’re more price sensitive. But what they don’t want are schemes that introduce friction into the process.

Downloading and printing coupons. Friction. Fill out this form. Friction. Download an app and fill-out a profile, then wait an hour to get a discount. Not a great user-experience: More friction. People don’t want this. Instead, what forward-thinking brands could deliver would be loyalty schemes that integrate seamlessly with credit/debit cards and other payment options. So when a customer spends money, points accumulate.

SMS and push notification vouchers and other personalised deals are also far easier than coupons, making it more likely that a customer will want to benefit from spending more with your brand.

3. Empower your staff

Customers conduct an extensive amount of research before making a purchase. Spending decisions almost always start with someone deciding they need something, instead of seeing an advert and thinking that they want that product/service.

Next, those same potential customers search for the information they need. Reviews, price comparisons, voucher codes and countless discount sites are searched before someone steps foot in a store or lands on an M-commerce shop. Staff – online (via Live Chat features) and in-store need to know as much as customers.

With customised apps, you can empower them with enough data to offer personalised offers that will increase order values and return visitors. Not only will they hit target, but customers will come back time and again to enjoy a much better shopping experience.

4. More competition than ever

Now that M-commerce is no longer the poor cousin of E-commerce, you should expect more competition from established and challenger brands. More companies are going to invest in M-commerce and the marketing that will drive sales, such as voice search (an audio variation on traditional SEO), the user-experience and essential back-end tech improvements. Driving forward improvements at scale will make revenues more sustainable and profits higher through mobile commerce channels. This could prove vital at a time of increased price sensitivity.