Brands And Retailers: If You Don’t Get Mobile Right Soon, You’re Screwed

  • Multiple data sources show how mobile is now central to consumer shopping.


    If nothing else holiday 2014 drove home the importance of mobile as a shopping tool. Mobile traffic numbers and even mobile e-commerce sales beat expectations, according to data from multiple sources.

    As one example, IBM reported the following US holiday traffic and sales figures:

    • Mobile traffic: 45 percent of all online traffic for the 2014 holiday season
    • Mobile sales : 22.6 percent of all online sales for the 2014 holiday season; smartphones drove 31.2 percent of total online traffic vs. 13.4 percent for tablets
    • Tablet accounted for 13.4 percent of online sales vs. smartphones, which accounted for 9.1 percent of total online sales

    IBM holiday data

    Source: IBM (2015)

    Flurry (now part of Yahoo) also reported earlier this week that apps in the shopping category saw the most growth of the many app categories the company is tracking. Smartphones in particular are now hugely influential on buying behavior, although the ultimate transaction usually occurs on a PC or even more often offline.

    Flurry mobile shopping

    According to Flurry most mobile shopping happens when people are “out and about,” though there’s still heavy mobile usage at home:

    Based on this analysis, our mobile shopping behavior is perhaps what we might expect. We shop on our phones when we are out and about during the day, with Shopping app use spiking during the commute time of 9 a.m. and lunchtime at noon. We’re focused on things other than shopping in the afternoon hours (perhaps working to support that shopping habit), but mobile shopping spikes again during prime time at 8 p.m., at home. There are some of us that shop all night into the wee hours of the morning!

    In 2014 mobile surpassed not only the PC but the TV as the top “attention medium” according to Flurry and other sources.

    time spent on mobile devices surpasses tv

    Despite all this information and documented consumer behavior, most brands and retailers have yet to deliver satisfactory mobile experiences. App retention is a major problem but so is general mobile web presence. The Search Agency recently found for example that most mobile sites scored the equivalent of a “D” in terms of performance. While this study was about news publications in particular, there have been similar findings about retailer mobile sites.

    While there’s a clear opportunity cost in not delivering against consumer mobile expectations, a late 2014 Netbiscuits survey shows that poor mobile experiences can have major brand consequences and drive consumers to competitors.

    All this should light a fire under those publishers, retailers and brands that are still dragging their feet when it comes to mobile. If it doesn’t they’ll have to deal with the consequences.

    About The Author

    Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association.


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