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What is mCommerce? Key Differences between Mobile commerce and eCommerce

by GK May 25, 2018
ecommerce vs mcommerce
It’s important to establish distinct boundaries between eCommerce (electronic commerce) and m-commerce (mobile commerce). The abnormal obsession of entrepreneurs to use these two terms interchangeably is not praiseworthy. Of course, the common purpose of m-commerce and eCommerce is to enhance consumer shopping experiences. Irrefutably, eCommerce is older than m-commerce. Various reports on the web suggest that eCommerce started to evolve in the 1970s. Michael Aldrich, an English entrepreneur founded the first eCommerce company – Videotex. M-commerce is more or less eCommerce tailored to mobile phones. Is this the key difference? No! Passionate entrepreneurs should understand the differences between eCommerce and m-commerce so that they can apply different tactics to convert customers. If you have ever wanted to learn the differences, now is your chance.  Let’s look at the definitions first.

What is m-commerce?

M-commerce is the process of buying and selling, distributing and servicing various products and services, and operating commercial transactions by using wireless handheld devices which have access to the internet. In other words, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), tablets, mobile phones, iPADs etc., are used to facilitate the trading of merchandize. The next time someone asks you this question – What is mobile commerce? you will be able to answer with effortless ease.

What is eCommerce?

E-commerce is the process of buying and selling, distributing and servicing various products and services, and operating commercial transactions by using an electronic system which processes exchange of data. Data can be in different formats such as text, voice, image, video etc. The electronic system should be capable of accessing the internet. More often than not, laptops and desktops are the electronic systems through which business transactions are initiated and concluded. Let’s now look at other differences


history of ecommerce In what was described by industry veterans as ‘a seminal act of e-commerce’, ARPANET, the predecessor to the internet, was used to initiate and conclude a sale between the research scholars of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The sale took place in the 1970s. ARPANET was conceptualized in the 1960s. The first true online marketplace was launched by Jeff Bezos in 1995. Yes, I am talking about Amazon! And importantly, the first Windows and Mac personal computers were built in the 1990s. Also, eCommerce identifies itself with EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). EDI has existed ever since the 1970s. Businesses used to rely on various EDI and EFT standards to send, receive and process various commercial documents such as purchase orders and invoices. Paperless e-documentation is the key.  Though mobile phones were introduced much earlier than 2007, they were considered nothing more than a means of communication. It was Steve Jobs who conceptualized high-end iPhones and ushered in an era of smartphone revolution. However, credit goes to KEVIN DUFFEY and it is unfair to praise only Steve Jobs. Kevin Duffey coined the term ‘mobile commerce’ in 1997. WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) and Bluetooth technologies are the key drivers fueling mobile commerce.


ecommerce and mcommerce M-commerce is essentially a version of eCommerce. It is safe to say that m-commerce is the subset of eCommerce.


internet business Can an eCommerce transaction conclude without the internet? No! More often than not, limited access to internet is a never-ending problem in places such as gyms, trains, forests, caves etc. It’s therefore important to develop location dependent mobile apps. For instance, Google Maps app is available. Users can download maps and use them offline for navigation. Mobile commerce has skyrocketed, many thanks to mobile apps   Can a mobile commerce transaction conclude without the internet? Yes! Wondering how’s that possible? Offline mode of purchase is the answer. Also, not everyplace has an internet connection. You can initiate and conclude transactions via your phone if you have cellular data. And you can carry your mobile phone everywhere. Its weight is insignificant.


mCommerce benefits Any article on mCommerce vs eCommerce is incomplete without a mention of portability. Of course, laptops can be carried anywhere and everywhere. But which’s easy to open? Can you open a laptop in a crowded bus? You require a place to sit and internet access to conclude a transaction. You can open your smartphone easily in a crowded bus and turn on the mobile data. In less than a minute, you can conclude a transaction. Mobile commerce banks on these three advantages of mobile phones: Convenience, mobility and accessibility  

Cost of Operation

cost of operation Call it an observational bias, but this is the case – computers require nothing more than a simple broadband connection to go online. Smartphones require wireless telecom networks to go online. In many western countries, broadband connection is free. In countries like India, broadband is cheap. But wireless telecom networks are not affordable everywhere. Computers lead the game here. While the debate on mobile commerce vs e commerce is far from over, the user interface of mobiles is nothing short of a blessing to older generation of consumers. The older generation of consumers is getting used to smartphones and mobile commerce

Cost of Creation

affordable app costing According to research by clutch.io, the cost to develop a mobile application is anywhere between $38k and $171k. It’s important to look at various factors such as UI / UX, operating system etc. UI / UX of the app should be adjusted to Android and iOS platforms. The development costs could vary anywhere between $10 and $100k. A cheap mobile app will do more harm than good. It’s affordable to develop an ecommerce site. In less than $5k, you can develop a fully functional ecommerce site. Instead of hiring programmers and coders, get yourself a turnkey script. An ecommerce store will be ready in less than a day!

Degree of Personalization

personalization Do you click intimate moments with your near and dear with your smartphone? Of course, Yes! Beyond any doubt, the degree of personalization on smartphones is way higher than that on laptops. Mobile apps can be personalized. Mobile users are fine with smartphones remembering their personal details such as name, address, past purchase history etc. As a matter of fact, mobile users expect a decent level of automation from mobile apps.


Based on the trends, it’s safe to assert that both m-commerce and e-commerce are here to stay. E-commerce industry is huge and so is m-commerce. A smart entrepreneur should focus on retargeting and conversion tactics to attract customers. He should leverage the benefits of eCommece and m-commerce.   Curious to learn more about m commerce vs e commerce? Keep watching this space. Subscribe to our newsletter to get insights straight into your mailbox. Our best wishes are with your online venture.  
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