The Rise of Mobile Social Commerce


The convergence of three technology trends – mobile, social, and commerce – is changing how we become aware of, learn about, and buy products.

We wrote a blog post about how mobile commerce is changing the way we shop and highlighted how retailers engage consumers and more and more transactions are executed using mobile methods. According to eMarketer, U.S. m-commerce sales hit $24.7 billion, which accounted for 11% of total e-commerce sales; both of these numbers are projected to grow rapidly over the next few years, reaching $86.9 billion and 24%, respectively, in 2016.

Social commerce, which involves social media and user interaction to assist in the online purchase process, is flourishing as well. S-commerce sales are projected to hit $30 billion by 2015 with 50% of web sales occurring through social media, per The Social Skinny. Vocus states that there are over 42 million Pages on Facebook and 17% of these sell products, and the advent of Credits and Gifts will only drive more purchases on the leading social network.  Pinterest is basically an online store and now is the 4th-largest traffic driver worldwide.  And there are a bunch of startups disrupting the s-commerce world.

Meanwhile, people are spending more and more time on social networks on their phone, as opposed to their computers.

Combine these three concepts – mobile, social, and commerce – and businesses have something really powerful to effectively and instantly influence purchase behavior.

What’s Happening Now

There’s a broad array of activity occurring in the MoSoCo space; below are some of the more prominent tactics currently used by many companies.

Social Sharing

Many retailers and brands facilitate and encourage social sharing on their mobile websites and apps, hoping that customers will propagate product info to their friends to raise awareness and influence future purchases. Visitors of Macy’s mobile website can post to Facebook, Like, and tweet about a product. Under Armour fans can Like and pin an image of their favorite sneaker or t-shirt to Pinterest. And Amazon’s mobile app leverages the mobile operating system’s Share functionality to let users circulate product information via social networks, email, or any other way they please.

Location-Based Deals

It was only months ago when daily deals were hot and check-ins were popular. Though the hype has fizzled, companies still use Groupon, Livingsocial, and Foursquare to lure customers through their doors with discounts and allow these deals to be redeemed via mobile apps. With location being such an important factor of mobile commerce, look for much more activity around this aspect of mobile commerce, which we’ll address in another post soon.


Though many don’t immediately associate reviews with social, they are one of the most foundational and important aspects of social commerce and influence purchase habits immensely. It’s typical for companies and brands to incorporate ratings and reviews into their mobile websites. But the best take it a step further and engage with their customers on their site or on popular review websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and this will become even more important to build loyalty when users are on the go.

Involvement of Payment Providers in the Ecosystem

American Express continues to be on the forefront of facilitating MoSoCo for both their members and merchants, and the Amex On the Go Pinterest page outlines their array of initiatives. Amex cardholders can use Membership Rewards points to purchase products simply by scanning product bar codes with the RedLaser mobile app. The Amex Sync program allows cardholders to link their Amex account to Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook to earn savings and seamlessly purchase products by tweeting special hashtags, checking in to local establishments, and getting offers on Facebook. And the My Offers section of the Amex mobile app aggregates multiple local offers (available in NYC and LA right now) into a single place. These programs add value to both cardholders and merchants to drive purchases and build loyalty.

While the concept of MoSoCo has been around for a couple of years, it’s primarily been an experiment for most companies. But as smartphones continue to proliferate, more and more companies will build out and accelerate their mobile social commerce offerings, most likely starting with the tactics mentioned above.

In our next post, we’ll take a shot at predicting what we will happen next with MoSoCo. In the meantime, we’d love to hear about how your company is using mobile social commerce tactics to influence purchase behavior and increase sales.

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