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Shopper Experience

4 Reasons Mobile Lost Holiday 2016 To Desktop

How was your holiday?  For most eCommerce sites, it was fantastic.  Adobe Digital Insights recently reported that retailers pulled in $91.7 billion in holiday sales, a 11% increase over last year.  But not all retailers or eCommerce teams are celebrating.  Most notably, mobile commerce teams have to consider how they read these results.  

Smartphones were responsible for 41% of traffic, but only 21% of sales.  In other words, shoppers flocked to mobile devices more frequently, but converted to sales at a mere 1.5% rate (vs. 3.6% on desktop).  Customers that visited a retail website on their desktop were 2.4 times more likely to purchase than those on a mobile device.

The study concludes that this gap created an opportunity cost of $4.5B for retail eCommerce.  That’s $4.5B in sales that eCommerce teams would have generated if mobile and desktop conversion rates were the same.  Granted, this ignores truly incremental new business pulled in through mobile devices, or visitors that may have left and then purchased on desktop.  But that’s not a behavior you want to gamble on.  

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What could be causing this?  Here are some ideas.

  • Ease of mobile browsing experience – When customers don’t have an exact product in mind, they want to browse and compare products.  These type of shoppers would convert at a higher rate on desktop with its larger images and greater functionality.  
  • Speed of mobile shopping experience – In this era of shrinking attention spans, shoppers don’t have patience for delays in the loading and presentation of mobile websites. Yet as eCommerce teams embrace responsive web design and continue to ask mobile devices to render more rich, complicated web experiences, delays continue to happen.  Which could account for why visitors are abandoning mobile sites before completing a purchase.  
  • Less physical store visits – Adobe did not measure physical store visits.  But mobile devices are often used by shoppers in stores to conduct research (read reviews, compare prices, etc.).  Did retailers offer a better store experience this year (e.g. lower prices, shorter checkout, more sizes) to compete better with eCommerce?  If so, this could have reduced the incentive for store visitors to purchase on their mobile device rather of buying the product in front of them.  
  • Security concerns – Despite the high mobile adoption rates of this blog’s readership, many customers still don’t trust  purchasing on mobile devices.  They are still concerned about the security of their personal information on these transactions.  It’s possible that these customers are doing everything on the mobile website (hence the higher visits) but using alternative means to purchase.  

We need more data before we can draw strong conclusions about why mobile shoppers aren’t purchasing.  But it is clear that there is a real division between mobile and desktop conversion rates.  The eCommerce teams that win in 2017 will be those that identify and address the reasons for this gap, and deliver a mobile experience that more effectively motivates these visitors to purchase.  

To view the summarized Adobe data, please click here

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