Igor Faletski is the CEO of Mobify, a web platform that optimizes ecommerce and publishing sites for mobile and powers more than 20,000 sites.
Remember when it took 23 clicks to find movie showtimes on your mobile phone? While that may seem like an eon ago, in reality it???s just been a few short years. The mobile evolution has been advancing at a break-neck pace.
???Mobile is ramping up faster than any other technology we have seen in the past,??? says Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins. Mobile web adoption is happening eight times faster than traditional web adoption in the late ???90s.
With that growth comes a new set of user behaviors and consumer trends. What???s the reality when it comes to the new mobile commerce landscape? Here are five facts that will have striking implications for the future of mobile commerce.
1. Customers Spend More Time on Their Mobile Devices Than Desktops.
My company powers about 20,000 ecommerce sites. The average desktop order in 2011 was $95.19, and the average mobile order amounted to $96.92. The difference of $1.73 per order may appear small, but that 2% increase in average cart size can dramatically affect a company???s bottom line.
While multiple factors contribute to this data, the most important may be the power of the tablet, which has quickly emerged as the third digital screen in consumers??? lives, in addition to desktops and smartphones.
Adobe???s Digital Marketing Insights report looked at data from 16.5 billion visits across more than 150 retailers to find that the average order value when shopping on a tablet was $123, compared with $102 on a desktop.
IPad users generally have higher education and higher income than general internet users. The same Adobe study found that tablet owners more often fall in the 18-34 age demographic, and that 29% have an annual income over $75,000. The group has proven a lucrative customer segment for retailers.
Beyond the demographics, the iPad???s interactivity (aka touchscreen) may make shopping easier than desktop, despite the smaller screen size. A 2011 study reported that 52% of tablet owners prefer to shop online using their tablets, while 40% preferred using a traditional computer.
The moral of the story for retailers? Tablet users are a key customer group and their influence will surely grow through 2012 and beyond.
2. Mobile Shoppers Are More Focused.
But searches don???t take longer on mobile because the devices are harder to use, but rather, because mobile searchers and shoppers are task-focused and more specific in what they???re seeking.
Microsoft reports that 70% of PC search tasks are completed in one week, while 70% of mobile search tasks are completed in one hour. Mobile searchers have a sense of urgency not seen as often in traditional search methods.
This difference has very real implications for both multi-channel retailers and ecommerce retailers. Mobile users are looking for information or assistance to help them make sourcing and buying decisions right at the point of sale: 88% of consumers searching on a mobile device will make a purchase within 24 hours.
As savvy retailers understand, mobile shoppers need to be able to simply research products and quickly make a purchase. Therefore, there should be as little extraneous content included on mobile commerce websites.
In contrast, a full desktop site is packed with brand-related content, community interaction, company information and detailed research methods. Mobile, on the other hand, is lean, mean and clean.
3. Click-Through Rates Are Higher on Mobile than Desktop.
While smartphones and tablets are still in the relatively early stages of adoption, they are already showing persistently higher click-through rates for search advertising.
A Marin Software study found that consumers are more likely to click on search results ads when using smartphones or tablets than when using a desktop or laptop. Actual click-through rates in Q4 2011 measured 1.25% for smartphones, 1.31% for tablets and 0.95% for desktops and laptops. Performics reported that mobile click-through rates were 45% higher than desktop through the end of 2011 and January 2012.
Click-through rates on search advertising are tracked closely because they???re important indicators of the intention of the searcher. Higher click-through rates are associated with searches of a commercial or consumer nature and translate into a more valuable consumer for both advertisers and retailers.
That more valuable consumer is now on mobile and tablet.
4. Mobile Shopping Peaks at Night.
We tend to think of mobile as synonymous with ???on-the-go,??? and picture the mobile shopper browsing or shopping during commute times. However, it???s social media activities and email, not online shopping, that dominate commuters??? time.
When we consider mobile vs. desktop, we see that hourly trends vary based on device type. According to data from Google Mobile Ads, searches from computers mirrors time spent at work, while tablet usage spikes dramatically at night. And people searching on their mobile phones overlaps both periods, growing steadily throughout the day and peaking at 9 p.m.
While both tablets and smartphones can viewed as ???lean back??? devices, smartphones alone are used on-the-go throughout the day and evening, including time at work and time at home.
5. The Importance of the Mobile Web.
Yes, we???re living in an app culture. Yet the power of the mobile website (i.e. a site reached by browsing, not via an app) tends to get overlooked amidst all the hype.
Consider that 30% of all social media traffic originates on mobile devices. Of that traffic, over 42 million people accessed social networks via their mobile browsers in 2011, while 38.5 million accessed via mobile apps.
Marketers need to see that, with the exception of certain niches like gaming, the mobile web is still essential and apps additional. The mobile web is bringing in business for all customers, whereas apps can be viewed like loyalty programs for repeat customers.
Apps can be a big part of a mobile strategy, but are best for repeat customers who already know the brand and have downloaded the app. Unless your business exclusively deals with repeat customers, it???s best to start by tackling your mobile web presence and augment your mobile strategy with apps.
Looking Down the Road
By 2015, more U.S. Internet users will access the web through mobile devices than through PCs. And sales of smartphones continue to exceed all other types of computing devices combined, including tablets. Canalys reported that 488 million smarthphones were shipped worldwide in 2011, compared with 415 million ???total client PCs,??? including 63 million tablets. Finally, tablet ownership in the U.S. nearly doubled this past holiday season (mid-December to early January).
The macro trend is clear: The variety and complexity of connected devices will continue to grow. There???s no doubt that 2012 will be an fascinating and innovative year for mobile commerce.
Time to take heed.