When Browsing Starts On Mobile, 64% Of Buys Happen There; Web Visit Starts Purchase Meter

The days of a shopper making a purchase in only one way are long gone.

The good news for retailers, whether physical or online, is there are a lot of shoppers.

For example, more than 150 million people said they shopped either in stores or online during one holiday weekend last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

But the continuing challenge is not to determine if they shop but rather how they shop, which is evolving.

Mobile obviously has had a major impact on the path to purchase, with consumers tapping into their phones all the way from the research phase to an in-store purchase, with maybe a little price check at the end just to make sure the person is getting the best deal.

With all of this shifting purchasing activity, there are now enough data points and surveys that provide some insights into what commerce is looking like today.



To start with, consumers aren’t in agreement on where to shop. For example, about half (51%) say online shopping is best and the other half (49%) prefer shopping in a store, according to one recent study.

But the money is spent in a physical store, according to the survey of more than 1,000 nationally representative U.S. consumers who made an online purchase in the past six months.

By share, 64% of a consumer’s budget is spent in a store compared to 36% online, according to the survey conducted by the research firm Kelton Global for ecommerce platform company Bigcommerce.

Countless studies show that most retail purchases are made in physical stores rather than online or by mobile device.

For example, total retail online sales in the U.S for the first quarter of this year accounted for just 8% of total retail sales, according to the most recent quarterly e-commerce sales report from the U.S. Census bureau.

However, those online sales total $93 billion, not an insignificant number and one that keeps growing each year.

And globally, online sales account for somewhere around 30%, based on numerous tallies. And the mobile percentage of those sales also continues to grow.

One of the most insightful pieces of research I’ve come across actually drills down into which devices are most used and when.

With enough online data, it now can be determined when a person will buy from the time they start, based in the new Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly, published every quarter for the past four years.

Technology from Monetate is used for campaigns created by integrating disparate pieces of customer information on the fly, which is used by retailers including Macy’s, Best Buy, Office Depot, QVC and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The study is based on an analysis of more than 7 billion online shopping sessions that took place during the first quarter of this year. Here’s a look at times relating to purchases:

  • 42% of a purchases happen within the first 60 minutes following a shopper’s visit to a website
  • 9% of all purchases happen in the six hours following a website visit
  • 16% of purchases happen about a day after a visit
  • 5% of all purchases happen nearly two days after the website visit

Another set of findings has to do with time of day.

As might be expected, the height of desktop popularity is during work hours, 8 to 4, with a peak at 2 p.m.

Mobile kicks in with 40% to 45% of page views during early morning commuting hours.

And here is the big key: when browsing starts on a desktop, 99% of those purchases occur on the desktop.

When browsing starts on mobile, 64% of those purchases occur on mobile. And that matters, since, even though lower than desktop, the average order value of sales via mobile is $81.

Once a shopper sees a website, the purchase meter starts ticking. And if it’s on a smartphone, the person is likely on the move.


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