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M-commerce, E-commerce, how they differ?

If you’ve been in business for a little while or you’re trying to break into the field, you’ve figured out by now how important it is to be online! The Internet is serving to make your business more functional and to take it to the next level of online shopping. Gone are the days, you had to move through physical spaces, rent space, advertise in the real world, and go in search of customers. Now, you can accomplish much of that over the Internet through search engine optimization, branding, and social media engagement. Your customers now want to shop online too, which brings you to an interesting question- shall I go for e-commerce or m-commerce? Are they different? What my target customers are using?


There are a few fundamental differences between m-commerce and e-commerce in terms of their origins, technologies and the type of the services they can offer. E-commerce was emerged due to the breakneck growth of the Internet; the growth of m-commerce is due to its convenience, ease of use, and accessibility to smartphones.

User behaviour is different too when it comes to using devices. How people choose, buy, access and use mobile apps is different from the way they behave on the web. Unlike connected devices like laptops, desktops users, mobile users are on the move, in a hurry and easily distracted. They want the quick service for what they’re looking for, without long instructions, long installation or loading time.


Basically, m-commerce is any financial or promotional activity a business undertakes by utilizing mobile phones. Tablets, PDAs, and other handheld wireless devices usually count as well; however, laptops are usually not considered tools of m-commerce even though they are technically mobile.

When a customer shops online through his or her phone, that’s m-commerce. In m-commerce, the services are usually delivered to a specific region, via wireless providers.

M-commerce is unique in the Internet era because the Internet is actually not necessary for it to function. A business can send promotional text messages or financial alerts to a phone that is not even connected to the Internet.


E-commerce is a slightly broader field that basically means any financial transaction that takes place over the Internet. Obvious e-commerce transactions are things such as shopping online or banking online. Typically, this should happen from your home computer or laptop to qualify as e-commerce and not m-commerce. One could argue that mobile interactions are still electronic and so fall under the wider umbrella of e-commerce.

In e-commerce, the wide accessibility of the internet makes any service globally available. Since the displays are larger, e-commerce web design focuses on attractive and easy to use websites.


While the two types of commerce are very similar, and one could argue that mobile commerce falls under the umbrella of electronic commerce, there are still differences.

1. E-commerce requires Internet connectivity at all times; m-commerce does not. With e-commerce, you are tethered to a physical location such as your house, the point of sale at the store, or an Internet cafe. With m-commerce, you are versatile enough to go anywhere you want.

2. Due to data rates and device costs, m-commerce tends to be more expensive than e-commerce.

3. Since the displays are smaller and the processing power is diminished, m-commerce transactions have to be somewhat simpler. That’s why many websites have mobile versions of their websites that offer stripped-down graphics, simpler navigation, and larger buttons.

Essentially, m-commerce is a field in the larger category of electronic commerce. You should be aware of how the two differ and how to utilize the different strengths of each. With some knowledge of online shopping, web design, and your field of business, you should be able to create a successful strategy.

  • 23 Sep, 2015

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