Don’t Mourn the Desktop’s Demise Just Yet: Look at Conversion Rates


Has the whole world gone mobile? Are the desktop and the laptop really dead for ecommerce companies?

According to eMarketer in its 2015 forecast of key marketing trends, folks are spending less time on their desktops and laptops, and increasingly hanging out on their mobile devices — consuming content on whatever screen is most handy at the time. Not only that, consumers are using multiple devices simultaneously.

This trend necessitates paying more attention to audiences, rather than to channels, whether its desktops, mobile devices, or connected cars and home devices in the growing Internet of Things. And yes, that does mean that omnichannel marketing is absolutely critical to your success.

But wait, before you get ready to eulogize the dearly departed, stop and think for a moment: Where are your customers actually converting? How likely are they to purchase on their smartphone, on their iPad or other tablet versus their desktop or laptop?

The data still show that desktops/laptops are a force to be reckoned with. According to recent data, sales on mobile devices did in fact rise by an impressive 27% in November and December over the previous year. The kicker? Only 23% of overall online sales were made through smartphones and tablets, while the remaining 77% of sales came from consumers’ tried and true desktops and laptops.

Unsurprisingly, as we’ve seen this trend around for quite a while, tablets still lead the pack when it comes to mobile conversions, with consumers using their smartphones are browsing devices and eventually converting on tablet or desktop.

Why are the conversion rates so much lower on smartphones? Many people are still most comfortable making a purchase on a larger screen, with an optimal view of the product in question and accompanying details. They might also be less likely to make a purchase on the go, and use their mobile device for product discovery and price comparisons.

There’s also a distinction in mobile conversion rates by product category and by device type, notes Practical Citing 2013 data from Mobify, a table in their Nov. 2014 report shows that the highest conversion rates (3.65%) were on tablets for purchases of food and drugs conversions.

As consumers become more comfortable making purchases on mobile, there’s a strong argument for optimizing your mobile sites, creating apps where appropriate and making the buying experience seamless, regardless of the device used to make the purchase.

No matter what, your customer is likely to use more than one device before converting and take multiple steps in her journey – starting perhaps on a smartphone, following up later on a tablet and perhaps completing the purchase on a laptop. Disregarding the power of desktop conversion would be a mistake for any ecommerce or brick-and-click retailer to make.

 —Marielle Hanke, Sr. Manager of Analytics and Optimization at Sailthru