The Year of Mobile — Again — Mobile Now Dominates e-Commerce Sales

Feb 05, 2019
By: Jonathan Harrop

It was just a few months ago that all eyes were turned to e-commerce projections around the holiday shopping season, with high expectations that the numbers would match the behaviors we’re seeing all around us: Consumers using their phones for pretty much everything, including shopping.

e-commerce mobile studyA Clear Lift in Smartphone Use

We found from our own study that nearly half of the U.S. population uses their smartphone to make online purchases, with 6 out of 10 surveyed admitting to shopping on their mobile device most or all of the time (compared to desktop). This is a far cry from the previous year, when Forrester found that smartphones are used just over one-third of total U.S. retail sales transactions, for research, price comparisons, and purchases. Google, too, said the limit for online transactions made on mobile was around 40 percent, and less than half (46 percent) prefer to use smartphones for the entire purchase process. So in just one year, mobile shopping has been elevated from minority status to now being the majority.

In-App Shopping Continues to Grow

Another significant shift we’ve seen in the past year is from mobile web to app. In 2017, consumers preferred mobile web to apps for researching and comparing products, but by 2019, it’s far more even, with most consumers not having a preference, and 35 percent choosing in-app if they did have to choose. App users are the most satisfied with their mobile shopping experience, Retail Dive reported.

The Real Question (of Conversion)

Still, that’s just behavior, like product research, in-store price comparisons, etc. The burning question that marketers want to answer is, Will they convert? And when you compare apps to mobile websites, that’s one thing – but what about to desktop, the traditional e-commerce king? According to a study from Nosto, when it comes to online fashion, mobile is definitely challenging that incumbent. Traffic to fashion retailers is dominated by mobile, with 58 percent share, almost twice that of desktop. Nearly half (46 percent) of e-commerce sales were made on mobile devices, compared to 44 percent on desktop and 10 percent on tablets. However, consumers spend 30 percent less time on an e-commerce website when they use mobile devices compared to desktop, and conversion rates are still higher on desktops (2.4 percent) compared to mobile devices (1.32 percent).

e-commerce graphicThe 90-Day Conversion Challenge

There are many reasons why consumers are visiting more e-commerce destinations on mobile and doing more sales transactions, but spending less time and less money overall on their phones. On a small mobile screen, there is less on-page real estate to work with, as well as having less time to woo the customer, notes the Nosto CEO. However, one way to overcome that challenge is through personalization, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically show shoppers the most relevant selection of products and items, their preferred brands and styles, in real-time. To all brands who either rely on e-commerce or as a significant portion of your business (which today, is likely nearly all!), this is your 90-day challenge. This quarter, talk to your ad partner today to explore how you can boost mobile conversion rates, whether it be through use of AI or another strategy or technology you have seen emerge in the past year.

By Jonathan Harrop
Read more by this author