Getting dressed up for heading to the store, walk up and down the store in search of intended product and then stand in a long queue to complete the check out process. Well, today all these are options only for the technologically incompetent or the incurable shopaholics! Thanks to the evolution of internet and mobile technology, it’s no longer necessary for a buyer to actually head out and purchase products from shops. For such an activity, one has the options for e-commerce and m-commerce.
The basic definition of ‘commerce’ is a transaction that has the objective of supplying commodities between buyers and sellers. Commerce has attended new heights, virtue and dynamics in recent times. Also known as electronic commerce, E-commerce is simply an online transaction done by using a desktop or a laptop. This involves individuals using their computers to research their desired product and purchase them over the Internet.
A little different from E-commerce, Mobile Commerce or M-commerce involves the consumers purchasing a given product, using his/her cell phone or mobile devices. The transaction occurs on a wireless network.
How are they Different?
In many ways than one, both these commerce types differ in certain aspects. Let’s discuss them.
Any where you go, m-commerce follows you. Assuming you have an internet-enabled cell phone, you can place an order for a product from a place where you cannot find any broadband connection, which is a basic requirement for e-commerce. E-commerce needs wired internet connection to work, where m-commerce uses satellite links and wireless connections.
E-commerce is multi-faceted, meaning it finds itself useful in transactions such as B2C and C2B (between businesses and consumers and vice-versa), B2E (businesses and employees), B2B (between businesses) and C2C (between consumers). Even the Government, citizen and businesses uses e-commerce for all sorts of transaction needs.
M-commerce mostly revolves around online shopping, services rendered by network providers (like SMS, GPS, WAP, etc.) and communicating various information, through text and data, within public and private networks.
Focus on Localization
While searching for a product online, using a desktop or a laptop, there is a marked difference in accessibility of the two commerce types. If you are using a handheld device (m-commerce), you would be shown products matched with your location (since an approximate estimate of your location is obtained over the data connection of the cell phone).
E-commerce however, might not be able to show location-based products, due to its inability to extract your location unless you specifically provide it.
Using E-commerce, you may enjoy shopping more customizable products. Many e-commerce sites offer you options to narrow your product-search using certain online tools, which may reduce your time required to select a product. These tools, in case of M-commerce, may not be compatible with a handheld device. Therefore, using a cell phone or a PDA for online shopping may take up more time than using a computer.
Mode of Payment
In the case of m-commerce, users are charged through their premium call rates, mobile credit or bank accounts, respectively. Say you want to set a particular song as your ringtone or avail special services over your mobile network. The service provider directly bills you from your mobile credit. If you like to buy a product from an online portal, you may enter your credit card details and get charged over your mobile data network.
Contrarily, e-commerce uses swipe machines where you may make a payment at a store or transfer money between bank accounts, simply by swiping your credit card. Alternatively, if you like to purchase an item from the internet, you can simply enter your card details and clear your payments
In terms of handling, m-commerce easily supersedes its contender. E-commerce generally involves the use of bulky machines, which are limited to a fixed place. However, a cell phone can be easily transported from one place to the other and can be used from anywhere in the planet. According to usage stats given by Wal-Mart, about 40% of their online sales belonged to m-commerce.
Which One Should You choose?
You may choose any two, of the above transaction options, based on your convenience and purchasing habits. If you are more impulsive, like to live on the edge and don’t have the gusto to sit on a computer for shopping, M-commerce is your preferred choice. It allows you to quickly browse through products and take an instant decision.
On the other hand, if you like to research a little about your desired purchase, then m-commerce might be a preferable option. It gives you more, respectively, time to think about your purchase, customization choices, broader reach and instant connectivity.