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Abstract

Mobile devices and social media constitute two rapidly evolving and expanding technologies, adopted and used globally, jointly contributing to shaping a dynamic and highly interactive mobile environment, where vendors can reach customers anytime anywhere. Thus, social media increasingly used on mobile devices emerge as a powerful tool for mobile commerce (m-commerce). This paper aims to investigate social media in the mobile setting and their use in m-commerce. Our objective is to enhance the understanding of customers' perceptions and behaviour regarding m-commerce and the use of social media on mobile devices and also to explore the potential of social media for m-commerce, leveraging the augmenting use of social media on mobile devices. In this direction, the paper presents an exploratory qualitative study on the use of smartphones and social media, in the context of m-commerce. Our results denote the factors that are important for m-commerce and social media adoption on mobile devices as well as for the integration of social media in m-commerce. The paper discusses theoretical and practical issues for the combined use of social media and mobile devices in this promising mobile business context.
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nt. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Social media and m-commerce
Jean-Eric Pelet*
Department of Marketing and Information Systems,
IDRAC Business School Lyon
and
University of Nantes,
Institut d’économie et Management de Nantes – Réseau des,
IAE, Chemin de la Censive du Tertre,
BP 52231, 44322 Nantes, Cedex 3, France
Email: jepelet@yahoo.com
*Corresponding author
Panagiota Papadopoulou
Department of Informatics and Telecommunications,
University of Athens,
15784 Panepistimiopolis, Athens, Greece
Email: peggy@di.uoa.gr
Abstract: Mobile devices and social media constitute two rapidly evolving and
expanding technologies, adopted and used globally, jointly contributing to
shaping a dynamic and highly interactive mobile environment, where vendors
can reach customers anytime anywhere. Thus, social media increasingly used
on mobile devices emerge as a powerful tool for mobile commerce
(m-commerce). This paper aims to investigate social media in the mobile
setting and their use in m-commerce. Our objective is to enhance the
understanding of customers’ perceptions and behaviour regarding m-commerce
and the use of social media on mobile devices and also to explore the potential
of social media for m-commerce, leveraging the augmenting use of social
media on mobile devices. In this direction, the paper presents an exploratory
qualitative study on the use of smartphones and social media, in the context of
m-commerce. Our results denote the factors that are important for m-commerce
and social media adoption on mobile devices as well as for the integration of
social media in m-commerce. The paper discusses theoretical and practical
issues for the combined use of social media and mobile devices in this
promising mobile business context.
Keywords: mobile commerce; social media; mobile devices; consumer
behaviour; ease-of-use; trust; loyalty.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Pelet, J-E. and
Papadopoulou, P. (2015) ‘Social media and m-commerce’, Int. J. Internet
Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.66–84.
Biographical notes: Jean-Eric Pelet holds a PhD in Marketing and an MBA in
Information Systems. As an Assistant Professor in Management, he works on
consumer behaviour variables when using a website and how the interface can
change that behaviour. He has actively participated in a number of national
research projects. His current research interests focus on social networks,
Social media and m-commerce 67
m-commerce and graphic user interface design. His work has been published in
journals such as European Journal in Information Systems, Systèmes
d’Information et Management, International Journal of Virtual and Personal
Learning Environments, International Journal of E-Business Research,
International Journal of E-Services and Mobile Applications, etc.
Panagiota Papadopoulou received her BSc (hons.) in Informatics from the
University of Athens, her MSc (distinction) in Distributed and Multimedia
Information Systems from Heriot-Watt University and her PhD in Information
Systems and E-commerce from the University of Athens. She teaches at the
undergraduate and postgraduate courses at several Greek universities, works in
European and national research projects and provides evaluation and consulting
services for public organisations. She has published in international journals
such as the European Journal of Information Systems and has authored the
book New Technologies and Management Information Systems. Her research
interests include trust, e-commerce, social networks and interface design.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled ‘Investigating
social networks in m-commerce’ presented at the 2nd International Conference
on Strategic Innovative Marketing, Prague, Czech Republic, 13–17 September
2013.
1 Introduction
The continuing evolution of smartphones favours mobile commerce (m-commerce)
adoption, with m-commerce overtaking e-commerce (Gartner, 2011). Indeed, mobile
transactions show an exponential growth, with reports indicating 356% annual growth
rate for sales via smartphones and tablets (IMRG Capgemini, 2012). This emergent way
of online shopping captures the value exchange enabled by mobile electronic devices and
wireless technologies and communication networks (Mobile Marketing Association,
2013). It seems to thrive if the right conditions are in place (Pelet et al., 2013), such as
positive user experience, trust, and seamless interaction, including shareable content that
is simple and focused on the particular product or service.
M-commerce involves smartphones, social media and applications. Social media
such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram1, Pinterest2 or Snapchat3 are widely used
globally and have become an important part of the social and professional life of hundred
millions of people. In October 2013, Facebook had 1.19 billion monthly active users
(who have logged in to Facebook during the last 30 days) (Statista, 2013) and about
500 million people interact daily with it (Kross et al., 2013). Social media account for
18% of the time spent online (ComScore, 2012) with Facebook accounting for 90% of all
the time spent on social networking sites (Lipsman et al., 2012). Mobile users are
increasingly accessing social media using their mobile devices. A study among mobile
users in the USA, Canada, UK, France, and Germany found that most had accessed social
media using a mobile device, ranging from 94% for those 18–29 years old to 75% of
those 50–64 years old (Adobe, 2013). In fact, Facebook was the second most visited
website that was accessed by smartphones and was the top smartphone app in the USA in
August 2013 (ComScore, 2013).
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With this increasing use in mobile phones and mobile devices, social media are
increasingly used in conducting m-commerce (Venkatesh et al., 2003; Ngai and
Gunasekaran, 2007). Social media enhance consumer behaviour with their smartphones.
Users disclose information voluntarily about their location, their habits, and their
activities. Thanks to their ease of use, social media empower mobile consumers to either
provide or search ratings and evaluations about a vendor’s products or services anytime,
anywhere. From a business perspective, they help vendors locate their fans and
customers, and target their mobile strategy to quickly interact with them. This social web
also enables companies to positively influence consumers’ opinions and behaviours
(Mayol, 2009). In this context, companies do not simply deliver a message, but have to
deal with an interactive conversation in which consumers take control (Wheeler, 2009).
Given this, one could state that while acknowledging that social media have become for
companies a new communication channel with possible interaction with their consumers,
there is a need to question and evaluate more precisely the efficiency and the real impact
of these media in a business strategy (Turcotte-Choquette and Parmentier, 2011).
However, despite the popularity of the use of social media by organisations, and
although several studies have examined social media adoption (Lenhart and Madden,
2007; Mansumitrchai et al., 2012), their influence in consumer behaviour or the
perception of their relevance by internet users as a contributor to facilitating their choice
when shopping has not been adequately investigated particularly in the mobile
environment. Considering that consumers, in their search for products and services
online, increasingly trust the opinions of their peers, especially on social media (White
and White, 2007; Litvin et al., 2008; Cova, 2009; Kuo-Ming, 2009; Yoo and Gretzel,
2009; Jansen, 2010; McCarthy, et al., 2010; Xiang and Gretzel, 2010; Di Pietro et al.,
2012; Fotis et al., 2012), it is important to include social media and mobile devices as an
integral part of the business-consumer relationship. Understanding what drives
consumers to use or reject social media and commercial activity on mobile devices will
help to fill this gap in the literature, and support companies’ efforts to reach prospects or
their existing customers.
The objective of this paper is to explore consumer perceptions and behaviour related
to mobile devices, social media and m-commerce so as to enable a better understanding
of how m-commerce can benefit from the use of social media on mobile devices,
including location-based applications. We present an exploratory qualitative study on
consumer perceptions and behaviour in m-commerce and in combination with social
media. Through the analysis of interviews conducted for the study, we attempt to
understand factors that affect the use of social media on mobile devices and for
m-commerce. A discussion of our findings and issues for further study concludes the
paper.
2 M-commerce: an overview
Recent figures show an impressive growth of mobile devices use. In the USA, consumers
have about equal access to mobile phones and personal computers. In the BRIC countries
(Brazil, Russia, India, and China), there are almost four times as many mobile phone
subscriptions as there are personal computers. In countries such as Italy and Germany,
penetration rates of mobile phones exceed 100%, with some consumers owning more
than one mobile phone (Kaplan, 2012). Cell phone adoption is widespread, especially in
Social media and m-commerce 69
young population, with 75% of teenagers and 93% of adults aged 18–29 having a cell
phone. More than half (55%) of the latter group access the internet wirelessly from their
cell phone (Lenhart et al., 2011).
The evolution of mobile communications has triggered an increase in the use of
mobile devices, such as mobile phones, to conduct mobile commerce on the mobile web
(Venkatesh et al., 2003; Ngai and Gunasekaran, 2007). It is important to differentiate
mobile phone users and smartphones users. A recent study on smartphone adoption
shows that 48% of all US mobile phone users own smartphones (Nielsen, 2012). These
devices are called smartphones because of their large screen and operating systems
allowing browsing on the internet. They also provide users with the ability to install
application programming interfaces (API), widgets or software. This enables an easier
use of social media and m-commerce applications.
According to Wu and Wang (2006), m-commerce covers a large number of services,
one of which is mobile shopping (m-shopping). It has long been defined with respect
to “e-commerce activities via mobile devices, such as phones or personal digital
assistants (PDAs)” (Mennecke and Strader, 2002). M-commerce may have not overtaken
e-commerce yet, but the rapid growth of mobile telephony and communications has
fuelled the expansion of the mobile internet as a foundation for m-commerce (Lee and
Benbasat, 2004). The mobile internet has unique strengths because users can connect to it
wherever and whenever they want (Kakihara and Sorensen, 2001).
While most, if not all of the internet-enabled activities that can be accomplished
through desktop and laptop computers can now be accomplished through smartphones
and tablets, some activities are particularly well suited to mobile devices, such as SMS
messages (or text messages), quick response (QR) codes, and location-based services.
Location-based services include consumers using their mobile devices to obtain
information based on their current location or mobile social media users who include
location in their posts or who use a geo-social service such as Facebook to ‘check in’ or
announce their presence in a location (Pew Research Center, 2013). Mobile social media
is defined as “a group of mobile marketing applications that allow the creation and
exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan, 2012), such that a geo-social service such
as ‘Facebook Check In’ is a subset of mobile social media. In the USA, 74% of adult
smartphone users obtain directions or other information based on their location while
12% of adult smartphone users use a geo-social service to ‘check in’ to a location (Pew
Research Center, 2013). However, there has been a decline in the use of geo-social
services, from 18% of smartphone owners in 2012 to 12% in 2013 due to privacy
concerns (Pew Research Center, 2013). Adoption rates by audience segment for mobile
technology differ depending on the application (De Marez et al., 2007). Smartphone users
under 50, those in higher-income households, and college graduates are more likely to
use location-based services (Pew Research Center, 2013). Through location-based
services, a consumer can receive a location-based alert about a special offer available for
one hour only for his/her favourite wine when he or she is close to a wine retailer for
example, assuming the consumer has opted in. This is facilitated by mobile technology’s
distinct capacity for targeting by both location and time (Ghose and Han, 2011; Shankar
et al., 2010). However, while location-based services may be attractive to marketers, they
are not to be used without consumer permission. Permission-based campaigns are
essential to the success of any mobile marketing communications strategy (Scharl et al.,
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2005). Even with permission, marketers need to manage their mobile marketing such that
the communication is not seen as too intrusive (Lamarre et al., 2012).
Whether m-commerce will surpass electronic commerce in growth and scope remains
to be seen, with privacy being a central axis for its adoption. People freely give out
information, for example when they upload a picture from their mobile to their social
media, in order to drive traffic to their website or to their social media page. This type of
voluntary information disclosure is so powerful that several social media such as
Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat use pictures as the basis of their business model. With
their heaviest users being teenagers and young adults, submerging in social media and
addicted to their smartphones and tablets, these social media seem important services to
take into account in an m-commerce strategy. They represent very interesting platforms
for customer engagement and retention which can help an e-commerce website and its
products to be known in a target audience. They also represent opportunities for both
business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies. These social media allow an
e-commerce website to connect directly with current and future consumers – developing
a relationship that leads to sales, as consumers tend to shop from retailers they feel like
they can relate to and ‘know’ the brand: when you show the product as best as you can,
providing good quality of image compression and fast downloading, customers tend to
feel in a better situation with the seller since nothing is hidden. Transparency on social
media such as Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat allows online vendors to build a
relationship with their customers as well as driving traffic. Instagram and other social
media can help companies target a particular audience and engage the latter in a
conversation, in order to develop a relationship that can lead to very good word-of-mouth
and to loyalty. In a highly saturated e-commerce world, savvy consumers tend to buy
from retailers they know and trust and social media like Instagram can be used as a
shortcut to build that feeling. Such issues reinforce the importance to investigate what
consumers feel and experience, positively or negatively, with social media and m-
commerce.
3 Research method
An exploratory qualitative study has been conducted seeking to understand consumer
perceptions and behaviour related to mobile devices and social media. To our knowledge,
research combining social media, mobile devices and m-commerce is scarce, thus an
exploratory approach of the topic, with a survey-based method using short interviews
seemed appropriate. In cases like this, where the nature of the study is exploratory rather
than confirmatory, a qualitative method is deemed preferable. A qualitative study enables
the collection of rich data, compared to a quantitative study, as participants are allowed to
freely express their opinions and thoughts rather than providing strict answers to
predefined numerical ratings. In addition, a qualitative study allows for finding richer
results emanating from the interpretation of the data collected, and as a consequence, can
offer deeper insights of the topics under study.
The main objective of this study is to investigate the use of m-commerce websites and
social media on mobile devices, understand the perceptions, the feelings and the
behaviour associated with them and examine the integration of social media in
m-commerce. Questions were structured and open, allowing for low duration interviews.
The interview-based data collection was comprised of four phases: the phase of
Social media and m-commerce 71
introduction, the phase of centring the subject, the phase of deepening and the phase of
conclusion. Each phase had a particular focus on specific dimensions of the use of
mobiles, social media and m-commerce. In the first phase, respondents we asked general
introductory question about the mobile they have, if any, the social media they are
registered on, if any and the use of their mobiles, particularly for social media. In the
second phase, questions referred to the use of mobiles for online shopping. The third
phase had three parts. In the first part, respondents were about what activities a mobile
should be used for and what are the desired elements for using social media on mobile. In
the second part respondents were shown a description of an example case of using
Facebook and location-based services on mobile and were then asked to report a similar
experience and express their opinion. The third part was focused on trust, in regard to
both social media and m-commerce websites. Finally, the fourth phase of the interviews
included questions dealing with loyalty to an m-commerce website and what makes an
m-commerce website an ideal one. The interview guide used for the study is presented in
the Appendix.
We conducted 21 interviews, following the criteria of data saturation [Mucchielli,
(1991), p.114], with students who were selected based on qualitative criteria, using a mix
of age, gender and socio-professional background, in order to obtain a homogeneous
sample. The number of respondents can be acceptable for a study of this type and
purpose, since it is a qualitative study of exploratory nature, without involving any
statistical analysis and sample size requirements of quantitative studies. Students are also
deemed suitable as a sample even if their use has often been questioned in terms of their
appropriateness. They share many characteristics with the profile of mobile and internet
users’ population. As shown by several studies, internet users tend to be young adults,
with the internet usage penetration within the age groups of 18–29 years rising up to 95%
(Zickuhr, 2010; Pew Research Center, 2010). Hence, although our sample presents a bias
towards younger subjects, it can arguably be acceptable as representative of internet and
mobile users. In addition, our study benefits from the use of students since they are
considered as an important group of online consumers (Delafrooz et al., 2010) and are
useful as a sample for empirical studies in m-commerce, in line with previous research
(e.g., Kim et al., 2008). We adopted a neutral attitude when interacting with the
respondents so as not to influence their answers. Participants were questioned without
being allowed to look at their mobile phone. This was to ensure that they answered only
using their memory to access the information reinforcing their use of the combination of
social media and m-commerce websites of their choice. Every interview, the duration of
which ranged from 20 to 25 minutes, was re-transcribed offering a verbatim of around 80
pages corresponding approximately to 6 hours of recording.
4 Results
In the first phase, the phase of introduction, the aim was to explore the use of mobiles,
identifying the activities done on mobiles, with a special focus on the use of social media.
Respondents were asked questions about if they own a mobile and what brand it as well
as what activities they use their mobile for. Questions also included which social media
they use and which social media they use from their mobile.
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4.1 Phase of introduction: use of mobiles and social media on mobiles
All respondents own a mobile, with 11/21 using iPhone and 4/21 using Blackberry.
The 6/21 others use Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia and HTC as mobiles brands.
Smartphones, because of their large screen and operating systems allow browsing on the
internet and also provide users with the ability to install software, which enables an easier
use of social media and m-commerce applications. All respondents are registered on one
or several social media: Facebook (18/21), Youtube (6/21), LinkedIn (6/21) and Twitter
(4/21). Their activities on their mobile vary as shown on the chart in Figure 1. 10/21 use
Facebook on their mobile (see column 3 on Figure 1) and 2/21 use YouTube on their
mobile. Nevertheless, even if all of these social media offer an application on the
different types of evocated mobiles, only 7/21 respondents use social media applications
on their mobile (see column 1 in Figure 1). The most common activity on mobile appears
to be the use of mobiles for surfing the internet as stated by 14/21 respondents (see
column 2 in Figure 1).
Figure 1 Activities on mobiles (see online version for colours)
Sending short messages such as SMS appears to be an important use of mobiles for 9/21
of respondents, although it seems to be replaced by new social media, such as Instagram,
Pinterest or Snapchat, which can be used to communicate with friends through photos,
videos and tags. The use of the global position system (GPS) for location-based
applications is quite common, with 9/21 respondents answering that they use such an
application to “find a street or a place” (3/21), because it “helps me when I’m lost”
(3/21), because “friends can find you easily” (1/21), or because it “shows you where there
are concerts” (1/21).
4.2 Phase of centring the subject: use of mobiles for shopping
In the second phase, the phase of centring the subject, the aim was to explore the use of
mobiles for shopping. Respondents were asked questions about if they use their mobile
for shopping, what kind of shopping activities they do from their mobile, their feelings
about shopping on mobile and their perception about shopping on mobile compared to
shopping from a PC/laptop.
Social media and m-commerce 73
Among the 21 respondents, mobile shopping does not seem to be very common.
Respondents mainly use their mobile to buy music thanks to the apple store for iTunes
(3/21) and train tickets (1/21).
Indeed, some of them do not find it practical (2/21), preferring to use their laptop
(2/21) for convenience purposes, while another respondent referred to confidentiality
concerns. When respondents were asked about their perception regarding using their
mobile rather than their computer to shop online, several topics emerged as important:
ease of use, convenience, speed and security. Three respondents answered, “I feel more
comfortable on a laptop” and 1/21 found it “easier”. For one respondent, “it just doesn’t
come to my mind to use it for this kind of things like shopping”. This underlines the
importance for companies to communicate on their mobile presence. In addition, 1/21
respondent referred to the speed of use in favour of the laptop instead of a mobile
explaining: “I often have a better wifi connection with my laptop, so I don’t want to
waste time shopping with my mobile”. As far as security is concerned, 1/21 respondent
answered: “I am afraid that it’s more risky to give away my data on the mobile (credit
card)” and another one said that shopping on its mobile “looks less secure”. On the other
hand, other respondents replied that they prefer to shop on their mobile rather than their
laptop.2/21 found using their laptop for shopping “less convenient”. The speed of use has
been mentioned too since the mobile “seems quicker” for 1/21, and also offers the
“feeling of freedom” (1/21). As it can be noted, perceptions of convenience, ease-of-use
and speed can vary and be either positive for mobiles or positive for laptops, with respect
to their use for shopping.
4.3 Phase of deepening: behaviour and feelings towards mobiles, social media
and m-commerce
The third phase, the phase of deepening included questions about the intended use of
mobiles and desired use of social media on mobiles, feelings and experience about using
social media on mobile and m-commerce websites and antecedents of behaviour towards
social media and m-commerce websites.
4.3.1 Intended and desired use of mobiles and social media on mobile
4.3.1.1 Intended use of mobiles
We asked respondents about what they think is important to use their mobile for apart
from making calls and sending SMSs. Most of them referred to the possibility to contact
their community “for Facebook” (10/21). Respondents are also interested in using their
mobile “to get in touch with people” (3/21). Others mentioned the possible “use of the
internet” (10/21) either in general, or more specifically, with the intention to “find
information” (4/21).
4.3.1.2 Desired elements of social media on mobile
Respondents also characterised Facebook as the social media which is found to be “rich,
captivating and pleasant to interact with” on a mobile. According to the interviews, social
media help respondents to “keep informed” (4/21) and they are “easy to use” (2/21) as
well as “interactive” (2/21). These statements represent elements that respondents find
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relevant for their personal use of social media on mobile. This is reinforced by 2/21 of
them, saying that social media must also be “intuitive”, for example permitting “an easy
access to videos on Youtube” or “handy, easier to use than the usual homepage you have”
(1/21). This is further described with the following characteristics our respondents
mentioned when asked to explain what they sought for when using their social media on
mobile. As they said, what would make them want to use social media on their mobile
would be using social media on mobile to be “funny” (1/21), “quick” (1/21), “pleasant”
(1/21), “useful” (1/21) and also the “aesthetics” (1/21).
4.3.2 Feelings and experience about using social media on mobile and m-
commerce websites
4.3.2.1 Feelings about using social media on mobile
When respondents were asked to describe the feelings that they associate with social
media or a social application used on their mobile, several terms arose. Respondents
mentioned features such as “convenience” (4/21), and finding “information when
needed” (3/21). An “easy” use of their application (3/21), being “funny” (2/21), making
them “free” (2/21), or helping them “not to feel lonely” (2/21) describes what
respondents emotionally get with this type of application. Social media on mobile also
help them to reach “happiness” (2/21) in parallel to fulfilling their “curiosity” (2/21).
Interviewees are also “happy to save time” (2/21), with social media bringing “pleasure”
(1/21) and “excitement” (1/21) to their everyday life. We can notice that they all are in
line with the already evocated desired characteristics described previously about their use
of social media on mobile.
4.3.2.2 Experience about using social media on mobile
Respondents were asked to describe their experience and express their opinion in regard
to social media and location-based services on mobile, based on an example case that was
given to them during the interview, of a mobile user receiving an offer using Facebook
and a location-based application. Only 3/21 respondents had received an invitation for a
commercial proposal issued from a business thanks to the combined use of their GPS and
social media. 2/21 referred to an experience they encountered close to what they heard
during this projection phase of the interview and mentioned for example: “when I was on
Facebook, a friend posted a link that I wanted to visit in order to take advantage of the
same offer”. Another one says “I have an application regarding stores, so I receive
sometimes discounts and then when I am in the shop when I want to use the discount rate,
I just show the message”. Thus, some respondents already benefit from the conjoint use
of social media and GPS embedded on their mobile. Bluetooth was also mentioned by
one respondent: “I’ve been contacted via Bluetooth with offers when I was in shopping
malls”. In addition, respondents (6/21) referred to the use of SMS as a vehicle for being
reached on their mobile. One of them said: “I receive SMS which offers me something if
I answer to the SMS”. Among these commercial proposals, 4/21 of respondents accepted
them.
Social media and m-commerce 75
4.3.3 Antecedents of behaviour towards social media and m-commerce websites
4.3.3.1 Trust in social media on mobile and m-commerce websites
When respondents are questioned about what encourages them to trust particular social
media/social application and not another, we observe that peer recommendations
represent an important reason. Thereby, when “it is popular” (6/21) especially into the
network of the respondent, when the “social media/m-commerce” application “has been
heard from friends”, 7/21 respondents seem more interested in the m-commerce website.
On top of that, privacy concerns arise. “If it respects our privacy when sharing
info” (4/21) and “when many other people trust it and have it” (5/21), respondents are
inclined to install a social media application or visit an m-commerce website. Like for
e-commerce, “when there is a special safe paying system like Paypal” (3/21) respondents
accept to try to use a new m-commerce website.
Topics linked to the human-mobile interaction also emerged: 3/21 respondents
evocate the “ease of use” as a condition. An “appealing” interface (2/21) and the fact that
the “design is professional” (1/21) seem also important. If “it looks safe (presence of
https)” (1/21) and if “it’s fast” (1/21) are good reasons for respondents to access this new
website. Of course, some respondents stay reluctant, thereby 2/21 “don’t trust them at all”
(about social media and m-commerce websites) and (2/21) “don’t give much information
to them”. Popularity of the application thus become a crucial asset to help it to exist in the
mobile market world: “if it is popular” (6/21), “safe” (4/21), “recommended by friends
(3/21), or if “other people have already tested it” (3/21), there are good chances for it to
survive. Indeed, “the people who use it and how often they use it” is important for
3/21 respondents and the fact that the application permits users to “stay in contact with
people” (4/21) can guarantee an increasing use of this application. On top of network
concerns linked to these m-commerce applications, “simplicity” is important for
4/21 respondents. “Security” (5/21) and “user friendliness” (3/21) have been cited too.
The “choice” of applications is important for 2/21 respondents only, and the “price” has
also been cited by a minority of them (3/21). Indeed, most of the applications using social
media and/or m-commerce are free. Once again, “professionalism” represents an
important asset to take into account for organisations willing to invest in m-commerce
since 2/21 respondents evocate it.
4.3.3.2 Factors encouraging revisiting a mobile website
The factors which encourage users to re-visit a particular website on their mobile mainly
relate to ergonomics and ease-of-use: “if it is practical” (6/21), “if the website functions
without problems on my mobile” (4/21), if it is “easy to load” (4/21) and if the mobile
website is “adapted for the screen of my mobile phone” (2/21). The website usefulness
was also deemed as important. As respondents mentioned, they would revisit an m-
commerce website “if I find useful information” (4/21) or if the website contains a “lot of
offers”. A mobile website will also be revisited because of its reputation, according to
“the clients they have” (2/21).
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4.3.3.3 Factors discouraging revisiting a mobile website
Reversely, several factors seem to discourage users from re-visiting a particular website
on their mobile. The most commonly mentioned relates to the “slowness” of the mobile
website for 5/21 respondents. If the “website is not intuitive” (3/21) or if the user has
“difficulty of access” to it (3/21), it doesn’t help to be used for m-commerce transactions.
Once again, ergonomics appear as an important concern since a “not user friendly
application will hinder the use of the mobile website for 2/21 respondents. “If I cannot
read it on my mobile […] it discourages me” reported 2/21 respondents. Other factors
were related to unreliability of the m-commerce website (2/21), and “if it is dangerous for
the security” (2/21). In addition the presence of “advertisings” (2/21) or offers of
“bad products” was also mentioned as negative elements discouraging the revisiting of an
m-commerce website by 2/21 respondents.
4.4 Phase of conclusion: loyalty and ideal m-commerce website
In the phase of conclusion of the interview we asked our respondents questions regarding
two topics, loyalty to an m-commerce website and what makes an ideal m-commerce
website.
4.4.1 M-commerce website loyalty
We first asked what aspects contributed the most to remaining loyal to an m-commerce
website. Issues of interface and trust towards the expected services arose. 5/21 of the
respondents said that the m-commerce website should be “easy to use on a mobile
phone”. This contributes to maintaining loyalty to an m-commerce website since relaxing
and appealing websites are preferred among others, captivating users. Other respondents
based their judgment on the service received: “if I am satisfied” is foremost the necessary
condition for 4/21 respondents, if I am “happy with the service” is important for 3/21
respondents. A “fast delivery” is important for 2/21 and if “I received the goods I bought
on time” for 1/21. M-commerce website applications that offer benefits to the user such
as 2/21 respondents say they “have advantages using it” will encourage the customers to
remain loyal to an m-commerce website. On the other hand, 2/21 respondents are
negative towards loyalty, and stating that “I cannot imagine being loyal to any
m-commerce website” without specifying on which aspects they are against being loyal.
This shows the importance of free web analytics tools, also included in recent social
media, enabling vendors to determine which of their contents drive the most
click-throughs in their m-commerce website. The efficient measurement of the reach of
the content of the m-commerce website and social media associated with it can help
m-commerce vendors understand mobile consumer behaviour and adapt to it.
Loyalty was also found to be related to the products offered on the m-commerce
website. A website with “many products” or a “large variety of products” (3/21) and
“good products” and “prices lower than in a shop” (2/21) drives respondents loyalty. The
m-commerce website “must be well-known” by 2/21 respondents in order to remain loyal
to it. In this direction, a “fast website” is preferred by 2/21 among them. Loyalty will also
be based on a “good structure” for 1/21 respondent, on differentiation from other
websites, being “something new” for 1/21. This will add the “reliable” aspect one
respondent cited, and also reinforces its “clear” aspect.
Social media and m-commerce 77
4.4.2 The ideal m-commerce website
Finally, when we asked respondents to think of any ideal m-commerce website and what
makes it ideal, only two websites have been cited: “Amazon” (3/21) and “Ebay” (1/21).
These m-commerce websites provide the “information I want” (2/21) making them ideal.
Back to the most repeated items of this exploratory research on social media and m-
commerce, “user friendliness” of the website is mentioned by 4/21 of respondents as an
important attribute of an ideal m-commerce website. An emphasis on ergonomics and
ease-of-use remains high throughout the interviews. Factors that make an m-commerce
website ideal also include security and privacy. The “security/privacy level is high” in
ideal m-commerce websites for 4/21 respondents, with a “secure website” being
important for m-commerce for 3/21 respondents.
5 Discussion
This paper presents an exploratory qualitative study examining consumers’ perceptions
regarding the use of mobiles for commercial transactions, for social media, as well as the
combination of social media and m-commerce. Our analysis shows that there is a
growing use of social media on mobiles and a positive attitude and behaviour towards
m-commerce, especially when it is combined with social media. The most important
factors that affect m-commerce and social media adoption and use can be summarised to
trust, reputation from others that use them, speed, ease-of-use and security.
Thanks to the use of social media, a brand can receive recognition and drive traffic to
an m-commerce website, and at the same time, can increase exposure and followers of its
social media account through its m-commerce website. Social media constitute indeed a
ramp to access m-commerce website rapidly, enabling users to access a particular page of
the website, the ‘landing page’ without getting lost on the website. Landing pages are an
essential element in online marketing. The first goal of the landing page is to convince
the user to act. This is reinforced on a mobile since users are able to take decisions
instantly, thanks to the ease-of-use of the landing page, and thanks to its ‘responsive’
design. Responsive web design enables a website to adapt to all screen sizes without
re-creating the content structure and is fundamental in the ‘landing pages’ design.
It seems important for companies engaging in m-commerce to exploit the potential of
social media in order to become known, increase their customer base and provide more
interactive communication, gaining customer trust. Establishing trustworthiness remains
very important for online companies in the mobile environment, and social media can
help with an important capacity to build positive word-of-mouth. Social media such as
Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, can be effectively used towards this direction.
Customers can think of them to be like texting with pictures or videos, allowing for a rich
and fast communication between the business and the customer as well as among
customers.
Another approach, which could possibly address the issue of security and privacy
concerns, could be the use of personal data during a short period of time only. The
general rule of internet sharing thanks to social media, merely lies on the fact that if
someone puts it on the web, it will be there forever – even if you delete it later. It could
be reassuring to know that the content uploaded on social media will not remain there for
ever and be will be automatically deleted soon after it has been viewed. One of the
78
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unique key factors of success about Snapchat for example, is this ‘self-destructing’
feature of photos. A few seconds after photos have been viewed, they disappear. This
feature could be used by companies incorporating social media in their business model
for promotional purposes. When a company promotes a product for a short period of
time, a consumer chatting with a friend by sending photos, can use this feature where the
photo is instantly deleted seconds after it has been opened by the recipient to add some
pressure on the scarcity of a product for example. Even if is still possible to capture
content and save it permanently, m-commerce companies could efficiently use social
media in this way to gain profit, and to increase customer trust and feeling of privacy.
The results of this exploratory study are indicative of the theoretical as well the
managerial implications of this topic, especially the joint use of m-commerce and social
media. Further research is needed to extend this study and its results with a confirmatory
study, examining the factors affecting consumer perceptions and behaviour as well as the
interrelationships among them. The potential benefits of m-commerce for generating
sustainable profits when used in conjunction with social media need further
demonstration. To succeed in producing profits in the highly competitive m-commerce
environment, organisations must not only develop the technical expertise and business
strategy necessary for the creation of an effective “social media-m-commerce website”
tandem/partnership but also create a satisfying user experience (Pelet, 2011). In today’s
competitive environment companies must quickly evolve and understand that consumer
shopping in a digital world is not bound by the old buying habits, and so a new kind of
collaboration between sellers and buyers needs to happen, leveraging the value inherent
in the communication between the business and the consumer as well as among
consumers, enabled by social media and reinforced by mobile internet technologies.
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Social media and m-commerce 81
Notes
1 http://instagram.com/: Instagram, launched in October 2010, is an online photo-sharing, video-
sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply
digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
2 https://pinterest.com/: Pinterest, launched in March 2010, is a pinboard-style photo-sharing
website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events,
interests, and hobbies.
3 http://www.snapchat.com/: Snapchat, launched in July 2013, is a photo messaging application
where users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a
controlled list of recipients.
Appendix
Interview guide questions used for data collection
Date: __________________________________________________________________
Sex: ___________________________________________________________________
Age: ___________________________________________________________________
Level of study: ___________________________________________________________
Nationality: _____________________________________________________________
Interview length: _________________________________________________________
1 Phase of introduction: use of social media on mobile
a Do you own a mobile?
Answer 1a: ………………………………………………………………………
b Which brand is it? (iPhone, Blackberry, HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony
Ericsson, other?)
Answer 1b: ………………………………………………………………………
c Which operating system is it? (Nokia’s Symbian, Google’s Android, Apple’s
iOS, RIM’s BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Linux, Palm/HP’s
WebOS, Samsung’s Bada, Nokia’s Maemo, MeeGo)
Answer 1c: ………………………………………………………………………
d Are you registered in a social network or social application?
Answer 1d: ………………………………………………………………………
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e If you are, which is it/are they? (Foursquare, Shopkick, YouTube, Daily Motion,
Viadeo, Flickr, Picasa, Deezer, Del.icio.us, Tweeter, Facebook, Viadeo,
LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Netvibes, iGoogle)
Answer 1e: ………………………………………………………………………
f Do you use your social media on your mobile?
Answer 1f: ………………………………………………………………………
g Which social media and social applications do you use on your mobile?
(Foursquare, Shopkick, YouTube, Daily Motion, Viadeo, Flickr, Picasa,
Deezer, Del.icio.us, Tweeter, Facebook, Viadeo, LinkedIn, Wikipedia,
Netvibes, iGoogle)
Answer 1g: ……………………………………………………………………
h What do you do with your mobile? (surfing the internet, using a Global
Positioning System, using social media such as Facebook, Other ?
Answer 1h: ……………………………………………………………………
i Do you use a location-based application on your mobile?
Answer 1i: …………………………………………………………………….
j Which one(s)?
Answer 1j: …………………………………………………………………….
k Why?
Answer 1k: ……………………………………………………………………
l In what way(s) do you use it/them?
Answer 1l: …………………………………………………………………….
2 Phase of centring the subject:
a Do you use your mobile for shopping?
Answer 2a: ……………………………………………………………………
b If yes, what site do you mostly visit for shopping? For example (amazon.com,...)
Answer 2b: ……………………………………………………………………
c What do you use your mobile for mostly? (buying a train ticket, a party ticket, a
book or anything else)
Answer 2c: …………………………………………………………………….
d What are your feelings when using your mobile to buy something online?
Answer 2d: …………………………………………………………………….
e Do you think shopping online using your mobile is different from shopping
online using your PC/laptop? Why / why not?
Answer 2e: …………………………………………………………………….
Social media and m-commerce 83
3 Phase of deepening
Topic 1: Mobile and DSN
a What do you think is important to use your mobile for apart from making calls
and sending SMSs?
Answer 3a: …………………………………………………………………….
b What represents a DSN/social application which you have found rich,
captivating and pleasant to interact with on a mobile?
Answer 3b: …………………………………………………………………….
Topic 2: Emotions and feelings felt following the consultation of a commercial
mobile website
a Could you describe the feelings that you associate with a DSN or a social
application when using it on your mobile?
b User called his friend:
“Yesterday, I was walking on a street and I received a SMS on my mobile
phone, indicating that the restaurant of the X brand in the same street was
offering me a free aperitif if I turned up within the next hour. I must say that I
am a fan of the X brand on Facebook. I have left the location based application
of my Facebook account activated, in order to be located anywhere anytime. At
the same time, the restaurant has learnt that I was also fan of a particular wine,
and that my friends were also fans of the food they cook, and the wine they
serve, so invitations have been sent to my friends as well.”
(To be read again several times if necessary)
Your opinion?
a Do you think you have already experienced these states?
b If so, could you speak to me about an experience of this kind by describing
a DSN or social application for example?
c Did you actually accept the offer or follow the suggestion made?
d According to you, why did you live these states?
Topic 3: Antecedents of the behavioural approach
a What encourages you to trust a particular DSN/social application and not
another?
b What factors would make you trust a DSN/social application?
c Why/for which use would you trust a DSN/social application?
d According to you what makes you spend more time on a DSN/social application
than on another?
e In your opinion what makes you switch to a m-commerce website from another?
f What are the factors which encourage you from revisiting a particular website
on your mobile?
g What are the factors which discourage you from revisiting a particular website
on your mobile?
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Phase of conclusion
a What makes you say, after having visited an m-commerce website: “I will stay loyal
with this website”?
b Can you think of any ideal m-commerce website? What makes it ideal?
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... Not only buyer but FMSA helps manufacturers, designers reach directly to the seller, thereby saving the retailer, distributor margin, making it easier for them to offer competitive pricing. These apps not only make user browse or buy products but also raise a discussion regarding the products; by enabling the viewers to check and recommend products to peers via social networks etc. (Pelet & Papadopoulou, 2015). ...
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