Mobile commerce has grown so much globally over the years that there’s now a treasure trove of data that can be used to derive new insights about mobile shopping behaviors.
Early studies tended to simply detail the hockey stick growth of mobile, sometimes with a focus on app vs. Web site usage or smartphone adoption rate.
Some of the newer studies are becoming more interesting, especially since there is now such a large installed base from which to gather data.
The migration to mobile from desktop commerce has been gradual, with many consumers simply transferring their desktop online behavior to mobile, fueling overall digital purchasing.
As a stark reminder of the significance of online purchasing, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is now expected to pass Walmart as the world’s largest retailer based on sales revenue.
Mobile sales transactions grew 79% last year, largely driven by a robust holiday shopping season in the last quarter of the year, according to one new study.
And by country, mobile growth varies widely. For example, mobile grew 138% in Brazil, 58% in Italy and 29% in France, according to the Mobile Performance Barometer, which is based on mobile shopping behaviors in 11 countries with data from 4,300 advertisers across retail, travel, finance and travel, conducted by marketing network Zanox.
A quarter (25%) of sales in the U.S. came via mobile device, which is consistent with other studies. Sales in the U.K. lead globally, with 41% of them generated by a mobile device.
Which device a consumer uses also seems to make a difference. Apple devices remain the global leader in driving sales even though Android penetration is higher. In the U.S., for example, Apple smartphones account for 45% of revenue compared to 11% for Android.
But sales by mobile can be a bit more complex than meets the eye.
For example, many of the shoppers -- whether new or returning visitors -- tend to move around more on mobile, according to Monetate’s latest quarterly ecommerce report. That study is based on a random sample of 7 billion online shopping activities.
In a bit of not-so-good news for mobile, its bounce rate -- the rate at which online shoppers navigate away from the site and go to another site -- is worse than on other devices. For example, the bounce rate on desktops is the lowest at 26%, compared to 28% for tablets but 37% for mobile.
And getting consumers to finish a purchase they start on mobile looks to be somewhat of a challenge, with the conversion rate on mobile found to be lower than on other devices.
Although they’ve increased across the board, mobile conversion rates are only 2%, half the 4% rate of desktops. Part of this could be due to the small screen or that shoppers are in transit and more flexible to switch tasks at that moment.
An interesting insight relating to U.K. shoppers is that with its robust mobile commerce as a percentage of sales, consumers are spending less per order. This may or may not be a future indicator for other markets.
The average order value by platform also differs, with orders from iOS devices at $114 compared to Android at $95. At $108, the order size from tablets tops smartphones at $89.
Despite all the mobile and online shopping activity, the physical store still is the place where most purchases occur and where most people prefer to shop.
All shopping obviously won’t be moving to mobile, but the shopping that occurs via mobile devices is getting easier. Mobile technology has evolved enough for many merchants to have learned what works best for them and what doesn’t.
The challenge going forward to is to keep pace with the steady growth of mobile commerce while keeping an even closer eye on the overall impact that mobile is having on those sales that happen in-store.
This column was previously published in MobileShopTalk on March 23, 2016.