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The Relationship Between Your Daily Commute and mCommerce

Marketers have always sought to use every opportunity available to them to increase their selling power. This can often be to a campaign’s detriment, but when properly considered, any window can be expertly exploited. One area that many campaigns look to target is the daily commute, as in the UK alone there are over 3 million people who spend more than two hours commuting every day.


It doesn’t take a marketing expert to realise that the commute is a great opportunity to advertise to consumers who are essentially on autopilot. The statistics support this theory too, as last year it was reported that commuters would spend £9.3 billion using smartphones and tablets. The convenience that mCommerce offers is the key to its success, and Criteo recently reported that 13% of people in the UK had made a purchase whilst on their commute.

Consumers are more than willing to make purchases during their commute, and it is up to the transport providers to give commuters the platform, as 31% of commuters who research a product will complete the purchase during the journey. After introducing WiFi to the London Underground, it was reported that 39% of passengers had made purchases on the tube.

Here we take a look at a few key points for marketers who are looking to develop mobile commerce to target this daily ritual.

Commuter Convenience

The companies who stand to profit the most from commuter mCommerce could be those who provide the commute. A growing number of public transport companies are seeking to develop mobile-optimised technology to help commuters purchase tickets and organise their journeys.

Transport For Greater Manchester has developed an app called Get Me There which allows commuters to purchase tickets for tram journeys. The app makes it simple for users to buy tickets, and weekly or monthly passes can also be stored on your phone. Developers around the world are following suit, and there are already similar ticketing systems in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Chicago.

The deployment of such an effective tool on a local scale – compared to the similar yet nationalised use of apps such as Uber – is a sign that by optimising the purchase journey, public transport companies could stand to make a significant impact in the field of mCommerce.


Out-of-home advertising (OOH) has traditionally been the modus operandi for marketers looking to engage with commuters. However, recent research shows that two-thirds of smartphone owners will use their device whilst on public transport, with this figure increasing to 80% for the younger 18-24 demographic. As more people are looking down rather than up, there is a huge opportunity for mobile commerce to take advantage of this changing trend.

Several companies have created apps which presents commuters with discounts and offers tailored to their commute. Xerox has created an app called Shop and Ride which is available in New Jersey and a similar app called Loka is available in Norwich and Jersey. Users can add their preferences to ensure that the app displays relevant offers, and there is also an element of machine learning in the app as the more the app is used, the better its recommendations will be. This localised form of personalised marketing is a fantastic example of how to offer incentives and products to consumers and create a platform for small businesses to advertise.

Beacon technology plays a significant role in mCommerce as far as commuting is concerned, as it is these beacons that communicate with the app when the user is nearby. Fox and Shazam teamed up using this technology and created content to advertise the film Kung Fu Panda 3 on board London buses. This content contained links allowing users to directly purchase tickets for the film. This technology allows marketers to deliver messages in a relevant, understated way that engages with consumers.

OOH can still play a role for marketers though, as 48% of commuters will research a product that they have seen advertised during their journey, with 37% of them conducting the search on a smartphone whilst still on the commute.

Mobile Optimisation and Analysis

If any marketers are hoping to take advantage of the mobile browsing time that commuting offers, they need to consider the context of why someone may be on their site during this period. The reasons for visiting the site during a commute may be very different to those when browsing on a desktop in the evening.

For this reason, having a mobile website that performs largely the same functions as its desktop counterpart may not meet the needs of commuters. To see a significant ROI from an mCommerce strategy, marketers need to consider the demographics and contexts before deciding how to construct the mobile website.

Furthermore, although mobile commerce offers a quick and easy way for consumers to make purchases, it is often only part of the purchase journey. Many consumers will use their mobiles to research a product before completing the purchase later on another device, so cross-device tracking and attribution is crucial for any marketers hoping to reveal the impact of their campaigns targeted towards commuters.


In the coming years the impact of on mCommerce on the daily commute will continue to grow. The driverless car is fast becoming a reality and could open up a previously untapped pool of consumers who currently drive to work. As the way people consume media changes, marketers need to remain agile and adapt promptly to new consumer behaviours.  

Could your business benefit from marketing to commuters? To find out get in touch with us on social media or speak to one of our team.

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