Rising to the challenge of mobile in retail

People using mobiles

There’s no doubt that mobile has taken over the planet. There are currently more than 4 billion mobile phones in circulation, and this number is expected to increase to more than 5 billion by 2019.

This shift towards being constantly connected to one another and to the internet had a huge impact on how most people live, communicate, and, of course, shop.

Today, 51.3% percent of all web browsing is mobile, and this impact is felt clearly in online retail. This rapid change in consumer behavior has taken some retailers by surprise, many of whom are still struggling to keep up.

For most traditional retailers, online is a relatively new channel. Many many pure-play ecommerce businesses have popped up in the last decade, prompting traditional shop-focused retailers to adopt a multi-channel approach, and branch out online.

Mobile, however, is a different story and is beginning to hugely impact the ways in which consumers shop online – and it’s starting to have a negative effect for some retailers.

This blog post explores the ways in which mobile usage has impacted online retail, and what businesses must do to make sure they don’t get left behind by changing behaviors of their customers and competitors.

The mobile paradox

Mobile web traffic overtook desktop in 2016 – and many retail businesses have been slow to properly address this, continuing to prioritise their desktop site as their primary online channel, with mobile as an afterthought.

A desktop site that is mobile responsive is often considered to be good enough – but that’s not actually the case.

Traditional ecommerce websites are optimised to be used on a desktop, with the user interface designed for a larger screen, interactions with a mouse, and the option of heavier page load with imagery and videos.

This doesn’t always translate on the mobile version of the site, which is often simply a collapsed version of the desktop site.

Mobile web can be difficult for users to navigate when menus are hidden, buttons are too small to click with a finger, and pages take too long to load, even on the fastest 4G networks.

All of this adds up to mean that conversion rates on mobile web are significantly lower than on desktop sites, with latest stats showing global desktop conversion rates at 4.14% and mobile web 1.55%.

This, compounded by the fact that more and more traffic is coming from mobile, means that retail businesses are seeing their conversion rates go down and online revenue drop, no matter how much their overall traffic is increasing.

This is the mobile paradox.

How can we resolve the mobile paradox?

Mobile is going nowhere – so the only thing to do is embrace it.

Mobile use is only increasing, and those retailers who are prioritising and innovating with mobile are the ones who are getting ahead.

ASOS reported in October that mobile accounts for 69% of all of its overall traffic. In fact, since the launch of its mobile app, half of the online retail giant’s sales are made via its app.

This switch to app commerce is the solution to the mobile paradox.

85.7% of mobile time is spent in app and only 14.3% is spent in browser. This skew to apps is a huge opportunity for retailers to take advantage of the consumer behaviour.

Users prefer apps to mobile web because apps are are created for dynamic and interactive experiences. They are specifically made to be personalised and tailored to the user, and enable a smooth user experience that mobile web simply cannot.

Not only does app commerce help businesses reach consumers more easily, retail apps perform better than both desktop and mobile web when it comes to browsing duration and interactions.

Average order value is greater with retail apps too, and conversion rates on apps are twice that of mobile websites.

This means that apps are the solution to the mobile paradox – retailers should capitalise on the high conversion rates of apps and the continuing increase of mobile shopping to boost revenue overall.

The future is app commerce

With the non-stop rise of mobile changing the retail landscape permanently, it’s crucial for businesses to tackle the mobile paradox head on.

Rather than considering mobile to be an extension of the desktop, businesses ought to consider what they want to gain from their mobile channel – higher engagement, conversions, and revenue.

Apps enable retailers to reach customers where they are – on their phones – while maintaining the optimal user experience and personalisation that draws users to apps over mobile web browsing.

To stay ahead in the evolving online marketplace, the future is app commerce.

Read Poq’s report into the need for an app when you already have a fully optimised mobile site. You can download the ebook here.

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