eCommerce: The Move to Mobile

Penelope Sowden Associate Consultant

Mobile usage overtook desktop in 2014. Over the last three years, mobile usage has increased at a faster rate than traditional methods of online browsing. So why are the online shopping conversion rates of smartphones (3.31%) lower than those of desktop (5.96%) and tablet (4.52%) in the UK?

Users spend the majority of their ‘online’ time on smartphones in apps. However, when looking at retail products on mobile, web browsers are more popular than apps, perhaps because users are simply checking prices.

Customers like to check prices on their mobiles, whether in store or at home, but are more likely to undertake a more detailed product review and convert the purchase in person or on a larger device such as an iPad, desktop or laptop computer.

Most users are ‘multiplatformers’ – not exclusively using mobile, tablet or desktop, but rather a combination – sometimes using multiple devices at once.

omnichannel phone in shop

The Future of Mobile Shopping

To provide a consistent experience for multiplatformers retailers must take an omnichannel approach, making shopping experiences between stores, desktop and mobile devices seamless.

Retailers should also target improving user experience in Mobile Shopping. Customers value ease of use and will buy from the point of purchase which is least painful. Replacing long form fills with one-click checkout will go some way to help user experience.

To capitalise on the changing consumer demands, retailers should make serious investments in mobile-friendly sites. They should do this to make their mobile platforms highly performant, improve user experience and boost their mCommerce conversion rates and revenue.

Site interactivity can enhance user experience with exciting capabilities like being able to drag and drop clothing onto a model. However, complex interactive sites are harder to manage on mobile and if your site is not performant it will detract from the user experience, sending customers to desktop or away.

Three Reasons Why mCommerce Continues to Grow

1. Millennials

The typical primary computing device for a millennial is their smartphone.

You might consider millennials too lazy to go to the shops. Or perhaps they are smart and simply use online shopping as an efficient use of their time. Either way, the proportion of the key spending demographic they make up is set to increase over time as the digital space and use of technology develops.

2. Shopping Habits

Peoples’ shopping habits will continue the shift towards mobile as the point of purchase as smartphone usage increases.

User habits are being shaped by retailers making online shopping easy with mobile sites and apps which incorporate PayPal or one-click checkout options.

In late 2017, Retail has also seen an innovation to utilise social media as a consumer channel; not only to source and direct consumers to retail sites but as a form of purchase and additional revenue streams. Instagram was the latest social media platform to support the mobile commerce transformation, allowing customers to purchase items without ever having to leave the app with a clever integration of the disruptive eCommerce brand Shopify.

Major value transactions, such as housing and banking, are likely to be the last frontier for mCommerce to conquer.

3. Screen Size

With the increased screen sizes of popular new phones such as the iPhone X and the Galaxy S8 Plus there has been an increase in the number of purchases made from smartphones.

Small screens have been an obstacle to customers making purchases on mobile. Mobile Marketer found that users are 31 percent more likely to complete a purchase or form-fill when their mobile device has a larger screen. So, if the trend for smartphones with large screens continues then continued mobile commerce growth is to be expected.


These three factors for mobile commerce growth should help bring up the smartphone conversion rates over time from 3.31% towards tablets and desktops, at 4.52% and 5.96% respectively. Conversion rates across all devices could converge in the future as retailers take up an omnichannel approach.

To learn more about the move to mobile and how to improve eCommerce conversion rates join our Monitoring Black Friday 2017 webinar which looks at the online performance of the top 450 UK retailers across Black Friday Week.