Mobile eCommerce: a valuable traffic source

Omnichannel Commerce

Mobile eCommerce plays an interesting role in internet retailing. If merchants look solely at conversion rates, they may walk away with the impression that smartphones actually don’t contribute that much to the bottom line. In fact, recent data from comScore even supported that notion, finding mobile devices accounted for only 11 percent of total eCommerce sales in the first quarter of 2014.

However, several retailers have noted that smartphones are still critical for engaging shoppers. Even if they don’t make a purchase from their phones, many people will still do much of their initial research from these devices.

A look at mobile utility

The problem wasn’t site speed or mobile site design, people just don’t like making purchases on their phone.

71 percent of respondents were simply using their phones to “just check stuff out.”

One could point to the successful outdoor retailer Moosejaw, found through mobile devices, as an example of why smartphones are important to the overall shopping experience. Moosejaw observed a significant portion of its customer base using phones to browse the retail website, but conversion rates were much proportionally lower. Moosejaw polled more than 19,000 customers and found that while many of them had made purchases through their smartphones,  71 percent of respondents were simply using their phones to “just check stuff out.”

The problem wasn’t site speed or mobile site design, people just don’t like making purchases on their phone.

“Clearly speed and usability are still critical to the 30 percent of mobile visitors that are intending to buy,” explained Eoin Comerford, the CEO of Moosejaw. “But just addressing these areas will not close the conversion rate gap with desktop. The mobile experience has to be viewed as part of the overall retail experience that frequently ends in a sale on a desktop or in a store.”

One reason for this may be because of the difficulty of punching information into form fields on the digital keyboards of smartphones. Entering credit card numbers and billing information on cramped digital keyboards may not be worth the effort for customers, particularly if all they need to do is fire up a computer and do the same thing in less time.

Why smartphones are a good thing

As Moosejaw discovered, while smartphones may not be the conversion channel of choice for many customers, smartphones still bring a lot to the table.

“Clearly speed and usability are still critical to the 30 percent of mobile visitors that are intending to buy.”

For Moosejaw in particular, smartphones are pivotal for generating customer traffic. The retailer uses email newsletters to promote new items and sales, and half of customers say they read these emails from their smartphones. These newsletters spur potential purchases, and because people are reading emails from these devices, that means a significant portion of Moosejaw’s traffic stems from smartphones.

Although other retailers may drive traffic from different sources, there is no denying that smartphones are valuable and irreplaceable sources of traffic. There will be times when people simply cannot access a desktop computer and if merchants want to engage these individuals, they will need to have a mobile website.

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