Phoning It In: What to Expect from M-commerce in 2018

The following is a guest contributed post by Rafael Lourenco, EVP, ClearSale

M-commerce is growing far faster than overall e-commerce and discretionary retail spending. By 2020, m-commerce may account for close to half of all US e-commerce. Despite the growth and revenue potential in mobile commerce, there are challenges that retailers face in the mobile channel. Fraud is a growing concern, and what works for desktop e-commerce doesn’t always work for m-commerce. Also, conversion rates are still lower for m-commerce than for desktop e-commerce, in part because many mobile retail sites aren’t as user-friendly as they could be. That’s why many of 2018’s m-commerce trends focus on making the mobile experience better for customers and making m-commerce less vulnerable to fraud.

More retailers with storefront apps

Because mobile users overwhelmingly prefer browsing apps to sites in a mobile browser, and because apps outperform mobile sites at conversions and repeat visits, industry watchers expect more retailers to launch, refine, or upgrade their mobile storefront apps in 2018 in order to stay competitive. However, developing a storefront app takes time, because of coding, site compatibility, deployment, and maintenance requirements. Merchants who don’t want to wait on app development may want to consider another of 2018’s big mobile trends: progressive web apps. These web site-app hybrids give shoppers the app experience, can be pinned to users’ homescreens, and are faster to build and easier to keep up than traditional apps. Among the major brands that have progressive web apps are AliExpress, NASA, and the Financial Times.

More mobile messaging and chatbot help from retailers

When shoppers are browsing on their phones, they want instant answers to their questions. If they can’t find what they need, they’re likely to move on. That’s why mobile messaging and chatbots are trending as customer-support options. These options don’t require navigating through a retail site to the FAQ or making a voice call to customer service while trying to browse, so they’re ideal for helping mobile shoppers find what they need. Retailers can develop tools that work with platforms most shoppers have on their phones already, such as Facebook Messenger—which has more than a billion users.  Millennials are the group of consumers most comfortable with chatbots, and they spend some $600 billion each year in the US. Developing automated mobile customer service tools is a must for retailers who want to court these customers and who want to preserve their live customer-support resources for inquiries that require more complex responses.

More widely available one-click checkout

According to a recent Forrester report, about 66% of mobile shopping carts are abandoned, thanks to friction during the checkout process. One sticking point that may improve in 2018 is the payment part of mobile checkout. That’s because Amazon’s patent on the mobile 1-click checkout button expired in September, which means that retailers, major card brands, and mobile wallet developers can add the same functionality.

More fraud challenges in m-commerce

While there’s currently less fraud in m-commerce than in desktop e-commerce, mobile fraud is on the rise as organized fraudsters become more sophisticated at exploiting the mobile channel. As retailers build or strengthen their mobile stores, they also need to ensure that their fraud-prevention programs address mobile security issues. For example, retailers can and should track which type of device each order comes from, in order to get a sense of which of their channels are the most prone to fraud and whether fraud attempts are trending up or down in each channel. Further, consumers have different purchase habits on mobile and desktop devices, which means that screening criteria that work for desktop may generate false declines. The typical number of items per order, peak order times, and other factors reflect different risk profiles in desktop and mobile channels, and retailers need to factor those differences into their fraud screening protocols.

Mobile commerce represents a great growth opportunity for retailers who can master m-commerce customer experience and fraud prevention. By keeping pace with trends like storefront apps, automated messaging tools for basic customer service inquiries, and simpler checkout processes, retailers can convert more mobile shoppers and reduce cart abandonment rates. By understanding the unique aspects of m-commerce fraud, retailers can protect against fraud and chargebacks while also avoiding false declines from good customers. Together, better mobile customer experience and fraud prevention can put retailers in a stronger position in 2018 and beyond.


Rafael Lourenco is the VP of US Operations at ClearSale, a Card-Not-Present fraud prevention operation that protects e-commerce merchants against chargebacks. The company’s flagship product, Total Guaranteed Protection, is an end-to-end outsourced fraud detection solution for online retailers. Follow on twitter at @ClearSaleUS or visit