A new “year in review” report from e-commerce platform ShopVisible offers some interesting insights and confirms consumer behavior patterns seen in earlier data. In particular, mobile devices are generating an increasing amount of traffic to e-commerce sites; however, the online sales they deliver are half that volume.
Overall, mobile devices were responsible for 30 percent of traffic but only 15 percent of online orders in 2013. And, if you consider tablets to be more like PCs than smartphones (as Google does), then “mobile” orders were only 4 percent of the total.
StatCounter data for the US market are in agreement with ShopVisible. The chart below shows that “mobile” (non-PC) traffic now represents about 30 percent of the total.
As suggested by the data above, conversion rates for smartphones are much lower than PCs, though mobile ad CTRs and other engagement metrics are often considerably higher. This is well established in multiple studies and data sets. Rarely are the reasons explored or discussed thoroughly in these types of reports.
One major reason that online smartphone purchases are much lower than their traffic is the cumbersome nature of the mobile checkout experience (sites like Amazon are an exception). However, that should improve over time.
In addition, most people shopping on smartphones are either “on the go” (and will buy in stores offline) or they’re “higher up in the funnel” conducting research that may not lead immediately to a purchase. Accordingly, mobile devices are both a great brand/awareness medium and a powerful direct-response medium — though mostly for offline sales.
The ShopVisible report also shows the degree to which Q4 and holiday sales are make-or-break for most e-tailers. According to the company’s data, 54 percent of 2013 conversions/sales took place in Q4. The other three quarters saw roughly equal sales volume although Q2 was slightly higher than the first and third quarters.
The good news for online merchants is that conversions tend to go way up in Q4 and December, in particular.