Graham Charlton
Graham Charlton 9 May 2018
Categories B2B, B2C, Ecommerce, Mobile

How retailers can drive more mobile commerce conversions

Mobile traffic is now close to, or higher than desktop for many retail sectors, but there's often a gap between traffic and sales on mobile devices. So what can retailers do to convert more of these mobile visitors into customers?

The chart below, from our ecommerce stats report,  illustrates the issue. Almost 49% of all traffic is mobile, but mobile accounts for just 36.8% of sales.

The number of sales via mobile have grown significantly over the past few years, but there's still room for improvement. 

Indeed, it’s only the fashion sector in which mobile sales more or less keep pace with traffic. Travel sites may have more of an 'excuse' as longer research phases and more complex buying processes can mean people prefer to browse on mobile and book on desktop, but it's clear that retail can do better. 


Why do shoppers prefer to buy on desktop?

The mobile traffic figures show that many customers are happy enough to browse on mobile, but the sales stats suggest that they prefer to checkout on desktop. 

There are several possible reasons for this: 

  • Ease of navigation on desktop ecommerce sites. A bigger screen means tasks can often be completed more easily than on mobile, while the cursor can be a more precise tool than the finger, meaning fewer mistakes. 
  • Bigger product images. Larger images mean customers can see products more clearly to make a decision on a purchase. 
  • Complexity of the buying process. Purchases which require more work to checkout – holidays, insurance etc – are often tricky on a smaller mobile screen.
  • Checkout. Perhaps the biggest barrier to mobile sales. Entering address and payment details is harder on mobile and can be a turn off for shoppers.
  • Willingness to buy on mobile. Just like in the early days of ecommerce, shoppers often had concerns about payment security. These are likely to reduce over time.

The common theme here is good user experience. Mobile sites have to overcome the limitations of the device and create a browsing and buying experience which works for mobile users. 

Some retailers are doing better than others on mobile though, and this is generally down to a greater focus on the mobile user experience.

Why do fashion sites perform best on mobile? 

As fashion sites seem to be doing the best job in converting mobile shoppers, it's a good idea to take a look at some good practice in this sector. 

Yes, fashion sites have some advantages here, perhaps a younger more mobile-savvy demographic, as well as a relatively simple product and purchase process compared to other sectors. 

However, there are still lessons to be learnt which can apply to any retailer, especially from how many fashion sites make checkout nice and easy. 

Guest checkout

An easy barrier to remove is forced registration before checkout. It's annoying on desktop, and even more on mobile, where form-filling should be kept to a minimum. 

Guest checkout options allow shoppers to go straight through to checkout, removing friction from the process. Shoppers can always be prompted to create an account later on in the process anyway. 


Well designed forms help as well. They make it easier for shoppers to enter details without making mistakes, and reduce the potential for cart abandonment.

Here, Monsoon has large form fields for touch screen users, and also adds a postcode lookup tool to provide a shortcut. Both of these features help to minimise user error and frustration. 


Shortcuts for mobile users

Any features which save customers effort during checkout can help to improve conversions.

Here, Monsoon's  payment page is also well designed for mobile, with input types adjusted for touch screen users, such as showing the numeric keyboard for the card number field. 

Little details like this make a difference for users and they save them the effort of changing the keyboard type, speeding up the process.

There's also ‘scan credit card’ option which uses the smartphone camera to grab the card number and expiry date, reducing the effort required by the shopper.


Payment options

Payment options (as well as the ability to log in and use saved details for repeat shoppers) can help to reduce effort. 

PayPal, and newer services like Visa and Amazon checkout, provide a way to skip much of the checkout process altogether.

These services have saved user address and payment details so that customers only need to enter an email address and password to checkout. 


In summary

While many shoppers may prefer to checkout on desktop, there's still a lot that retailers can do to convert more mobile visitors into customers. 

It's about giving them a great browsing experience, and making that all important checkout process as smooth as possible on mobile. 


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