I was giddy. I had just gotten ahold of my yearly bonus and, like any red-blooded person in their mid-twenties, I could not wait to spend it. There was a laundry list of items I wanted to purchase – a new lamp, a good pair of sneakers, a pair of tickets to a local concert. Before I got ahead of myself, I honed in on the first item on my list – the lamp. I reached into my purse and eagerly pulled out my smartphone, immediately heading to a popular department store’s mobile website. Once I was there, I attempted to navigate my way through the mobile site, running into roadblock after roadblock. From slow load times to unintuitive layouts, this mobile site was preventing me from purchasing the lamp of my dreams. What started out as an innocent online shopping trip turned into a personal vendetta. Fed up, I opened up my laptop, made the purchase and thought, “Isn’t mobile shopping supposed to be easy?”
Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good online deal and I might even download a store’s app, but this experience made me reconsider everything I knew and loved about mobile shopping. Could I be the only person who prefers to make a purchase on a laptop instead of on my phone?
We’ll get to that in a minute.
First, let’s set the stage.
Looking ahead to 2018, mobile shopping will account for 27 percent of US retail e-commerce sales. These statistics indicate that mobile commerce, sometimes referred to as “mCommerce,” is going through a period of rapid growth. In terms of frequency, smartphone users lead the way, accounting for 60 percent of mobile transactions.
If you go into any brick and mortar store this month, chances are you will see Halloween decorations on the shelves. Just like that, the holidays have arrived, and that means mobile shopping will have its time to really shine. In 2016 alone, shoppers made approximately $12.7 billion in purchases using mobile devices. This year, Invesp estimates that 56 percent of smartphone or tablet owners will use their device to search for and/or buy gifts for the holidays.
There’s no doubt that mobile shopping is steadily on the rise, but what makes it so appealing to shoppers? A 2016 study by Criteo found that mobile devices provided a combination of “better transaction ability, ubiquity, big bright screens and fast wireless broadband.” If you’ve been following mobile trends over the last year or two, chances are you were around to witness the dawn of the “phablet.” If not, you’re about to learn about one of 2016’s biggest buzzwords. The phablet, essentially a combination of the words “phone” and “tablet,” is pretty self-explanatory. It combines the user-friendliness of a tablet’s large screen, bright lights and legible fonts with the convenience and portability of a phone. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 7 were big sellers in the world of mobile and, with their big screens and conspicuous icons, these devices definitely classify as phablets. IDC notes that smartphones with displays of 5.5 inches accounted for 30 percent of all phones sold in the U.S. this year. This 2.5 percent jump in sales indicates a trend — users are looking for all-in-one mobile devices that can streamline all of their wants and needs, including online shopping.
Speaking of iPhones, iOS users are a force to be reckoned with in the world of ecommerce, equating to 69 percent of US mobile shoppers. Trailing behind are Android users with 28 percent and Windows with 2 percent. And with more mobile comes more apps. Invesp predicts that 50 percent of smartphone and tablet users will use a store-specific app to shop this year.
We’ve heard about apps, we’ve heard about convenience and better lighting, but what exactly makes for a great mobile shopping experience? User Experience designers, often abbreviated as UX, have skyrocketed in demand among mobile developers. It’s this person’s job to define a user’s path to purchase. UX designers decide how a person interacts with a site, highlighting when and where the conversion will happen. According to research collected by Google, mobile users are all about instant gratification. To facilitate speedy navigation and, in turn, speedy conversions, Google recommends creating a mobile site that makes user action as simple as possible with large click-to-call buttons, GPS-powered driving directions and one-click functionality. The one-click trend is especially relevant for mobile ecommerce sites, as companies like Amazon and eBay have already started using this option to make the buying process faster and more streamlined than ever before.
So, with one-click check out, speedy mobile apps and exceptional user experience, mobile shopping must lead the way in online shopping right? This year, mobile usage equated to 55.79 percent of online traffic, accounting for the majority of digital media consumption. Comparatively, desktop usage percentages have been steadily declining over the last three years, now making up 44.21 percent of online traffic. But before we chalk this up as another win for mobile, let’s explore these statistics a little more.
Yes, mobile is the most popular way to go online, but in terms of engagement, desktops take the cake. While mobile usage is still the most used form of online shopping, desktop drives more conversions – 2016 desktop conversion rates in the U.S. amounted to 4.31 percent while smartphone conversions came in at 1.50 percent. According to a 2016 survey by Business Insider, U.S. adults spent a whopping 85 percent of their dollars on desktop. Why? Frustratingly poor user experience on mobile. Slow Wi-Fi and LTE connections and lack of mobile optimization drew people away from their mobile device and onto their desktop. Interestingly enough, people also noted that they felt more secure entering their payment information on desktop rather than mobile.
No matter where you stand in the great mobile versus desktop debate, it’s clear that both platforms have their perks. Whether its convenience, speed, legibility or something more, desktop and mobile each have something to offer and that’s why they are both integral components of any response-driven marketing strategy. Optimizing your brand’s presence on mobile and desktop will only widen your audience and, in turn, expand your customer base. And, while you may be a staunch mobile user or an adamant desktop fan, the overwhelming majority of people use both platforms in their online shopping experience.
I have a secret to tell you, while I prefer to shop on desktop, the truth is, I’m really a multiplatform user just like everybody else. I love my smartphone and, even though I had an unfortunate experience on mobile, I still might use it for online shopping from time-to-time. That’s the beauty of living in the age of technology, we have options and, in the world of response marketing, sometimes the “winning” answer is all of the above. Just as we found in Clicks vs. Bricks: Is Brick and Mortar Dead?, the key to success lies in a multiplatform marketing plan that caters to the users’ ideal shopping experience. Maybe the question to consider here is not “Which platform do I pick?” but, rather, “How do I use each platform to their full advantage?”