The Role of Mobile Shopping for the 2015 Holiday Season

For years, analysts have been telling us that mobile access will be the key to online retail success. We might have finally reached the point when mobile shopping has overtaken shopping on computers. According to a report published by Shopify in August of 2014, 50.3% of all online shopping occurs on mobile devices. Interestingly, consumers have not been buying on the mobile devices. According to an IBM report that covers the Thanksgiving weekend sales for 2014, mobile devices are only responsible for 32% of completed transactions. This implies that mobile devices allow consumers to shop and look, but not necessarily complete a purchase. In fact, 68% of online sales are completed on PCs, even though consumers started shopping on a mobile device. Entrepreneur Magazine released a report on November 4, 2015 that quotes eMarketer as saying that mobile commerce (mcommerce) will be responsible for $79.4 billion in sales. Sales are expected to grow 32% over 2014. There are a number of factors that are helping this increase and some of these factors can be controlled by retailers to increase their online sales.  

Larger Screens

Firstly, many mobile phones and tablets have larger screens and better capabilities. This is leading consumers to use their mobile devices to make sales. While a company can't control for the size of the screen, their apps and websites can be designed to be usable on every screen.  

Responsive Web Design

Websites that automatically adjust to the user's screen (Responsive Web Design  RWD) are far more likely to help the customer complete the sale. Magento advises corporate leadership to plan their website from the ground up to be more responsive. In a recent Magento-sponsored Internet Retailer webinar, guest speaker, Forrester Research, Inc. Analyst Mark Grannan stressed that, like most projects, a successful RWD implementation begins with aligning business and development goal the site reports. Taking time up front to analyze mobile traffic patterns, create device priority lists, and review your information architecture and content will allow your teams to move faster.

Mobile Apps

A Paypal report gives some insight into the habits of consumers from around the world. “Incidence of shopping via an app is higher than via a browser on smartphones in most countries the report states. Mobile apps are the key to significant success in mcommerce. Apps on mobile devices started out as simply fancy bookmarks that took the user to the companies websites. Today, consumer are expecting much more. Criteo.com, in a report from the first quarter of 2015, points out the mobile sales funnel, the way that consumers buy on mobile devices, is very different from ecommerce on a PC. For example, in Japan, where the mcommerce market is about two years ahead of the US, consumers buy many more of the items that they put in their cart that US consumers. The report goes on to say, Add-to-basket rate and purchase rate is lower on mobile. This suggests that completing a purchase is often not sufficiently simple. Mobile apps appear to be the bridge that will make the process simple enough for consumers to want to complete their purchases on their mobile devices.  

The Future

Mobile shopping will continue to grow and there are things that companies can do to improve the odds that consumers will embrace their mcommerce efforts. Responsive web designs, mobile apps, and a simple checkout process will play a huge part in a consumer's decision to purchase from their handheld device. The 2015 holiday season in the US is almost guaranteed to be the largest mobile shopping season yet. It remains to be seen if it will be as large as some analysts hope, but all indications are that it will massive.

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