31% of businesses stated they have no plans whatsoever to optimise for mobile sales."

It’s happened quickly and quietly, behind closed doors, away from prying eyes. Your customers have started seeing someone else.

You noticed they weren’t buying from you as often as they used to, and now they don’t buy from you at all. They don’t want to drive to your store anymore and they’ve grown tired of your website. They’re spending their time with a business that puts their needs first, that knows what they like and makes them feel safe. They met them through an app or a mobile website and they speak to each other every day.

The good news is, you can win them back, but you’ll need to embrace mobile commerce first.

That’s the message for Australian businesses in every industry as mobile commerce continues to drastically alter consumers’ buying behaviour. It’s not a new message but unfortunately too many Australian businesses are still trying to build relationship with customers on their own terms.

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According to research in the annual PayPal mCommerce Index, 71% of consumers are already using their mobiles to make payments, while only 49% of businesses are actually optimised to accept them. Even more astounding, 31% of businesses stated they have no plans whatsoever to optimise for mobile sales.

Brian McDonnell from PayPal Australia says there’s a lack of awareness around the mainstream success of mCommerce, with many businesses still dragging their feet when it comes to building a mobile buying experience.

“The problem is, some businesses are framing mobile payments as something that’s coming in the future, but mobile payments are already here. Fundamentally, the way Australians purchase goods has changed, as they can make purchases on the go, wherever and whenever they want. Businesses that haven’t optimised for mobile are hindering this experience for their consumers.”

It appears many have their head in the sand, as an astounding 46% of businesses without a mobile-optimised site still don’t believe their customers want to make purchases via their mobile phone."

Breaking barriers

Peak smartphone ownership now means 81% of the Australian population are carrying around some form of mobile device in their back pocket or purse. We’ve become so attached to our smartphones that 64% of us won’t even leave the house without them, and that number jumps to 73% among 18 to 34 year olds.

On average, Australians are making $330 of payments on our mobile phone each month, and one in ten people are spending upwards of $1000. In terms of what we’re buying, we can use our phone to pay for practically anything, but bill payments, tickets and clothing are seeing the highest rates of mobile payments, closely followed by travel, food and electronics.

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With such a clear devotion to our phones and a growing need to pay for everyday products and services via mobile, what’s stopping businesses from building these mobile shopping experiences for consumers? It appears many have their head in the sand, as an astounding 46% of businesses without a mobile-optimised site still don’t believe their customers want to make purchases via their mobile phone.

“They might be looking at their web sales as being only worth a certain percentage of their business and they think they’re on the web, so their e-commerce strategy is going fine,” Brian says. “They don’t understand that having a mobile first experience or even a mobile optimised redesign is a channel to drive a new engagement model with their customers, and therefore grow their overall business.”

Aside from the general denial some business leaders appear to be experiencing, others have said they simply don’t know how to implement mobile payments (28%) or are unsure of the costs of mobile optimisation (24%). While some level of trepidation is natural, Brian says they shouldn’t allow this to hold them back from the opportunities within mCommerce. He believes businesses need to be ready to accept mobile payments at a bare minimum, and offers some advice on how they can begin optimising their e-commerce model to mobile first.

“The solution for every business isn’t always an app, as a mobile site could be a solution that works better. The important thing to remember when optimising for mobile, they should consider the end-to-end experience of their customers, from the moment they enter the landing page to the check-out, it needs to be intuitive, efficient and straight-forward.”

Ask your customers for their details once and don’t ask them again, as this is one of the biggest barriers to them actually making a purchase."

Mobile misdemeanours

This focus on user experience is a crucial success factor in building an mCommerce brand, best demonstrated by the 59% of consumers under the age of 35 who said they’re annoyed when websites they visit aren’t enabled for mobile. Brian argues that getting that experience right the first time isn’t the focus however, as it’s more important to get your mobile experience out early and use your customer’s feedback to improve the experience as you go.

“There’s an element of paralysis when people want to deliver a perfect experience on a mobile site straight away but the most successful mCommerce businesses are those that launch early and make constant updates to their mobile offering. The businesses that experience reputational damage are the ones who launch their mobile site or app, but fail to make those consistent updates to improving the customer experience.”

Fortunately, for those businesses yet to dip their toes into the wonderful world of mCommerce, many of the biggest user experience mistakes have already been made and the subsequent learnings are being applied to building the seamless mobile experiences that power many of the biggest modern brands. Their success has translated into PayPal processing US$102 Billion in mobile payments during 2016, up 55% year on year, and has allowed them to continue investing heavily in mCommerce R&D.

When asked about the biggest lesson they’ve learned in recent years through developing industry-leading mobile payment solutions, Brian points to payment tokenisation as a game changer that’s now become the bare minimum in buying experiences. In terms of the barriers to buying on mobile, filling in lots of form fields (52%) and payment sites that don’t work (44%) were the greatest areas of annoyance identified by PayPal’s research.

“It’s important that payments are getting out of the way of the mobile buying experience, which is why it’s so crucial that you’re allowing your customers to create that digital ID the first time they buy from you. Ask your customers for their details once and don’t ask them again, as this is one of the biggest barriers to them actually making a purchase.”

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Ultimately, convenience is the key to keeping customers happy in the age of mCommerce.

They want to buy products and services right now, in the comfort of their own home, without leaving the couch (where 82% of mobile purchases are made). Why make life difficult for them when your competitors are ready and waiting to give them what they need?

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