Friction In Mobile Checkout Costs Sales

Smartphones drive search. Search drives shopping. And shopping drives… not as much in the way of sales as it should.

Mobile commerce has a terrible problem with friction. From sites that aren’t optimized for mobile, to mobile apps that rely on nutty checkout processes, shoppers have to work too hard to buy online.  If only the buying experience could be as simple and fast as the search experiences that led to the desire to make a purchase in the first place.

While nearly 56 million mobile users shopped online in the U.S. in 2011, only about 27 million actually completed a purchase via a mobile device, according to eMarketer. With the exception of flash shopping sales at places like Fab and Gilt, and ticket purchases via services like Eventbrite, most e-tailers aren’t closing deals as well as they might on mobile platforms.

Though major online retailers have dramatically improved their mobile offerings in the last two years, introducing better mobile sites and apps for smartphones and tablets, the pace of retrofitting is surprisingly poky given the revenue at stake.



Commerce on mobile platforms is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 55% between 2012 and 2015, according to eMarketer, including a 73% growth rate this year alone.  While there will also be impressive sales growth from these increases, the numbers might be much larger if only the mobile shopping experience weren’t so kludgey at the virtual checkout counter. 

In my experience, mcommerce is pretty speedy at checkout when Paypal is an option, but it’s far too rare that Paypal is offered, unfortunately.  Smaller etailers lag particularly, despite the availability of services like PaySimple, which cater to the small- and medium-sized business segment.  These businesses, I suspect, fail to make the necessary investments to create frictionless shopping experiences online because they assume it will be too expensive for them to make the leap.  It’s particularly ironic, given that this same segment is finally getting savvier about leveraging SEO and search marketing to drive more business. 

Mobile adoption -- particularly smartphone and tablet adoption -- is growing a blistering rate globally. It’s projected that Google could exceed $4 billion in mobile revenues in 2012, or nearly 10% of its revenues. Which means the opportunity for etailers who really “get” mobile will be the big winners in the near future. 

The hassle of filling out “bill to,” “send to” and credit card fields, particularly when combined with less-than-ideal mobile keyboard sizes, is just too much for most people. And by the time they get to a desktop computer or a brick-and-mortar location, they may have lost that zest for a purchase. 

Make a resolution in 2012 to optimize your mobile sites and apps for frictionless checkout. The easier it is to buy in the moment, the better conversion rates you’ll see.

1 comment about "Friction In Mobile Checkout Costs Sales".
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  1. Kevin Bullard from ILFUSION Creative, January 9, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.

    Wow is this ever dead on. If SMB owners really had any idea about how much business turns away (OK, potential business) just b/c their site is NOT optimized for mobile...oof dah!

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