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While it remains to be seen whether mobile devices will turn into indispensable purchasing tools or maintain their status as impulsive, always-there resources used mostly for research and inspiration, sometimes for buying, one thing is clear: Retailers must optimize their websites for mobile. A study conducted by NetElixir, an online and mobile marketing firm, found that mobile shoppers converted 160% more often on sites optimized for their smartphones.
According to eMarketer, US retail mcommerce sales will increase from $58.07 billion in 2014 to $133.35 billion, more than double, by 2018. Yet many companies, even online-first retailers, do not have mobile-optimized sites.
NetElixir studied 180 million shopping sessions on 53 of its retail clients’ sites—some optimized for mobile, others not—in Q2 2014. The results highlighted the importance of optimizing for mobile, especially for smartphones—the go-everywhere, do-everything device for consumers. The smartphone conversion rate was 23% of the overall site conversion rate for those not optimized for mobile; this rate increased to 60% of the overall site rate when measured for mobile-optimized sites.
Not only do more orders convert on mobile-optimized sites, but the size of those orders grows. The average order value for shoppers on nonoptimized sites was 70% of the average order value for shoppers on PCs of those same retailers’ desktop sites. That number rose to 102% of the average order value when shoppers came in through mobile-optimized sites.
Consumers also use these sites to research retail items at home, work and even while shopping in-store. A Burst Media study conducted in June 2014 found that US shoppers, women to a larger degree, accessed coupons on their mobile devices while in-store; their male counterparts took the lead in comparing store, brand and product prices via mobile while standing in retailers’ stores. And if they make it to a retailer’s mobile site during these quick bouts of research, but that site isn’t ready to receive them—it doesn’t have the store location readily available, the navigation bar is hidden, or worse, doesn’t fit the smaller screen—they’ll just bounce and spend their money elsewhere.
This practice—cross-referencing prices and researching in-store—runs rampant, and is popular among customers of goods from automotive gear to sporting goods. Ninth Decimal took stock of the types of stores in which US mobile device users were most likely to pull out their devices. One-third did so in clothing stores, over one-quarter in big-box retailers and nearly 20% in electronics stores.
Optimizing for mobile permits users to experience shopping without much friction, supporting the possibility of impulse buys because, along with a wallet, so many people keep mobile devices at their sides at all times. With the mobile payments market on the upswing—and garnering attention among media and marketers alike after the announcement of Apple Pay—focusing energies on mobile is a must-have, not just a should-have or a could-have.
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