44% of Top Retailers' Online Sales Move To Mobile

For online shopping, smartphones continue on a tear while tablets fade.

Smartphones now account for 60% of all mobile transactions in the U.S., compared to 52% just a year ago.

However, while the actual purchase may occur on a smartphone or desktop, it doesn’t necessarily mean all of the shopping activity occurred on that device, according to a new study.

More than a third (37%) of desktop transactions occurred after shoppers visited the same retailer’s website on at least one other device before purchasing, according to the State of Mobile Commerce study by Criteo.

The study is based on an analysis of 2 billion transactions over 3,000 online and travel businesses globally, accounting for $720 billion in annual sales.

Of online shoppers who completed a purchase on a smartphone, more than a third (35%) had shopped on multiple devices.

This behavior is similar to those of consumers who shop in stores, where most of the overall shopping transactions take place. Numerous studies have shown that before and during a shopping visit in a store, consumers increasingly are using their smartphones throughout the process.

A large number of shoppers even would rather look for product information on their phone than talk to a salesperson, as I wrote about here last week (45% of Beauty Consumers Prefer Mobile Over Salespeople In Stores).

Interestingly, U.S. retailers already active with mobile shopping are moving more transactions to mobile.

For example, those not as active, based on the percentage of transactions occurring on a mobile device, only grew mobile market share from 27% to 30% of transactions in a year. Those more active grew it from 35% of transactions on mobile to 44% during that same timeframe, nearing the number of desktop transactions.

Some of the reasons shoppers are moving from tablets to smartphones are obvious, such as larger screens and faster connections, at least in many places.

But another is behavioral.

With any new technology, it takes time for consumers to adapt. Making a purchase from a small, handheld device did not necessarily come natural to the majority of consumers.

But as they dabbled a bit more, perhaps making a small mobile purchase, consumers came to see that a smartphone purchase had pretty much the same outcome as one from a desktop.

In the early stages of mobile commerce in the U.S., making a smartphone purchase could be painful, with the tedious typing of credit card and shipping information having to be entered on a small screen. Some early efforts would fail midstream, frustrating many a shopper.

Along with bigger screens and faster speeds of smartphones came advances in apps and mobile websites from retailers. And then one-touch buying entered the mobile picture.

The other things online shoppers learned is that their smartphone could be used pretty much exactly like their desktop, except it was available with them in all locations all the time. This helps explain why most smartphone commerce in the U.S. occurs via a retailer’s mobile website rather than their app, no matter how good the app is.

There is no learning or downloading for a consumer to use a smartphone to make a purchase from a website.

However, the Criteo study found that consumers using apps globally convert higher, with apps even 20% higher than desktops, where app usage is slightly higher (54%) than mobile browser (46%).

There also are differences in the mobile share of mobile online commerce based on country. For example, Japan leads and Brazil is last. Here, in order, are countries by share of retail online commerce mobile transactions:

  1. Japan
  2. U.K.
  3. South Korea
  4. Australia
  5. Netherlands
  6. Spain
  7. Germany
  8. U.S.
  9. Italy
  10. France
  11. Russia
  12. Brazil

The other plus for apps globally is that the number of products viewed on a mobile browser is six, compared to 22 for those viewed on an app, with app users spending slightly more per order.

While there are differences by geography, smartphones are on a path to take over online shopping.

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