What’s Standing in the Way of More Mobile Shopping?

May 18, 2018

Here’s an unexpected finding: the percentage of e-commerce sales made using a mobile phone decreased last year. That’s according to a report from Forrester Research [download page], which says that mobile phones accounted for 36% of online retail sales last year, down from 43% in 2016.

The Forrester report highlights several reasons why mobile shopping is “stalling.” Among them, survey data indicates that some shoppers continue to prefer the larger screens offered by desktops, for example. Additionally, mobile page speeds in the US lag: in fact, Google data suggests that mobile pages in the retail sector take more than twice as long to load as the best practice recommendation.

Meanwhile, mobile conversion rates are still lower than desktop conversion rates – which explains why Adobe data shows that retailers earn 4 times more from a desktop than smartphone visit. (It is worth noting, however, that there are indications that the mobile shopping experience is improving, leading to higher conversion rates.)

There are also fewer people making purchases on mobile phones, per the report: 46% of mobile phone owners in the US last year said they never purchase physical goods on their device, up from 41% the year prior.

Why Use A Desktop Instead of A Mobile Phone?

As part of its report Forrester looked at why online shoppers avoid using their smartphone to make purchase. In revealing the results of a survey of US smartphone users who had purchased products/services online but without using their smartphone, Forrester found that the two leading reasons were that respondents:

  • Found it easier to make a purchase on a computer than on a mobile phone (51%); and
  • Are used to making purchases on a computer (46%).

There were other reasons given, ranging from data and security concerns to the content displayed on mobile screens. But clearly inertia and the overall experience are the leading reasons why some people choose to stick with purchases on desktops rather than mobile phones.

Mobile Commerce to Grow in Hospitality Industry

Forrester’s report points out that growth in mobile commerce could come from the apparel and hospitality areas. That’s because clothing and accessories, hotel reservations, event tickets and airline tickets were the leading categories that online adults had purchased online on their mobile phone.

These are important, as some are not captured in Forrester’s mobile commerce estimates. For example, Forrester does not include airlines and hotels in its figures suggesting that mobile commerce has stalled.

Likewise, although car services such as Uber and Lyft are enjoying strong growth on mobile devices, these too aren’t captured in the mobile retail estimates.

This suggests that the total mobile shopping landscape is broader than what is captured in current mobile transaction estimates.

Nonetheless, Forrester does caution that there are some persistent issues that mobile shopping will need to overcome, recommending that retailers “focus on customer experience, not your mobile commerce number.”

The report is available for purchase here.

About the Data: The survey data included in the article above is derived from the Forrester Data Consumer Technographics® North American Retail And Travel Benchmark Recontact Survey 1, Q3 2017 (US). The online survey had 4,509 US adult respondents between the ages of 18 and 88.

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