Ecommerce in the Mobile Age: How Shoppers Want to Browse and Buy in 2015

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As mobile devices grow more and more ubiquitous every year, it makes sense that mobile would also be the way that many online shoppers expect to interact with your business. For the most part, businesses have jumped onboard with mobile-based sites or responsive design, which is great news for users (and if you haven’t – what are you even doing here? Get on that!). But there are still major differences between the most effective buying process for a mobile user, and the process for a shopper browsing on a desktop computer.

mobile shopping

Recognizing the habits and idiosyncrasies of mobile users who choose to shop on their devices can go a long way towards tightening up your sales funnel and increasing conversions on mobile – assuming that you take the steps to address their needs, desires and frustrations. Here’s a look at some trends (and lessons) for those who are riding the mobile eCommerce wave as it continues to rise.

Huge Increases in Mobile Shopping and Browsing

eCommerce platform Shopify recently released an interactive report/infographic detailing their year in review. While Shopify is just one slice of the eCommerce pie, the trends they’ve seen are happening across the board on a grand scale. Shopify’s eCommerce shops saw huge growth in mobile visits, and mobile traffic finally surpassed desktop traffic for the first time ever in August 2014. A third of total Shopify orders were made from mobile devices, up 175% from 2012.

It’s big growth, and it’s not just in eCommerce land; Cisco’s annual report tells us that average smartphone usage increased 45% in 2014, with global mobile data traffic rising 69% overall. Basically the growth is twofold: more and more people are getting smartphones or mobile devices (nearly half a million added in 2014 alone), and then individual usage on those devices is increasing as well. Using your device for just about everything is easier and quicker now then ever before, mostly due to faster data speeds (thanks 4G!), better network coverage, and better browser functionality since mobile or responsive sites are essentially the norm now.

Mobile Buying Still Lags Behind

So with all those staggering statistics about mobile browsing, why aren’t most of our sales and conversions coming from mobile traffic? The answer seems to be that, even for those who often shop online, it’s more of a window-shopping spree than a buying spree. It’s common for users to browse and shop on their mobile devices, and then actually purchase from a computer. This isn’t news to me since I absolutely fall into that shopper category.

mobile ecommerce

I’m the stereotypical “on-the-go” mobile shop browser, since I often shop on the bus home from work, in a cafe waiting for a meeting, etc. Because of this, I’m really unlikely to buy on my device unless it’s very, very easy and quick to do so. Amazon, for example, keeps my card on file so I don’t need to take out my credit card if I’m mobile-shopping at a coffee shop (over public wi-fi, I might add). Online shops that take PayPal are also a lot more likely to get a purchase from me because it’s convenient and quick.

But that’s just me – this article from ConversionXL has some great insights on what difficulties cause mobile users to abandon their carts before purchase. My MVP (Most Valuable Point) in the article? Because mobile sites are simpler and more pared-down, many users feel like they aren’t getting the whole picture on a product and can’t commit to buying; whether it’s more images, product specs, descriptive text or user reviews, they need to see more. ConversionXL suggests giving users the option (a simple link on the product page) to view the full desktop site instead, and I think that’s a smart and simple solution for users who need more to go on (I definitely fall into this category too!). Just make sure that link routes users to the desktop version of that product page – not your desktop homepage – or you’ll definitely lose them.

Reverse Show-rooming On the Rise

Show-rooming, if you’re not familiar with the term, is when shoppers come into a brick-and-mortar store to see or perhaps try on an item, but then use their devices to purchase online at a cheaper price. It was a big hazard for retailers losing out to discount eCommerce shops or Amazon-type marketplaces, but now the trend is toward the opposite practice: reverse show-rooming, when shoppers browse for and research products online, and then visit a store to purchase. A Harris poll reports that 69% of people reverse showroom now, whereas only 46% showroom.

The two major advantages of shopping at a retail location are the ability to try on/try out the item, and the ability to take it home immediately. For those who want that mobile conversion (instead of just browsing and researching) it can help to offer faster delivery, in-store pick ups, and free returns by mail or in-store. A discount coupon on your mobile site for first-time visitors wouldn’t go amiss either!

mobile shopping

Boosting your mobile sales can be a tricky undertaking, but the trends are, after all, on your side. Users are largely becoming more comfortable browsing and buying on their mobile devices, so as long as you are smoothing the path toward a final purchase in every way you can, the only direction for sales to go is up!

This article was written by Emily Everett from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.