In 2015, 52% of eCommerce site traffic was attributed to mobile along with 15% of site sales. Though these numbers speak volumes about the adoption of mobile and the turn that e-commerce shopping is taking, mobile hasn’t eclipsed desktop as the shopping device for every consumer by far. Studies show that desktop and mobile both have very specific roles in the e-commerce purchasing funnel. Understanding these roles and how they relate to e-commerce strategy is key.

Mobile still used primarily for upper-funnel activities

Desktop is still on top (alongside in-store purchasing) in terms of where shoppers ultimately go to actually close a deal. According to one emarketer report, “evidence abounds that mobile phones are still for upper-funnel shopping activities, with users more likely to close the deal in person or on a PC.” These upper-funnel shopping activities are happening both in-store and on-the-go. They include:

  1. Comparison shopping
  2. Product research
  3. Browsing and product discovery

Though some desktop users certainly can be found taking the same actions above, desktop is still reserved for actually completing a purchase.

Why the delineation between mobile and desktop?

First, mobile is no longer simply just the pocket version of a retailer’s site. It is becoming more and more of a real-time tool emarketers are using to more precisely leverage each moment of a buyer’s shopping journey. Mobile coupons, cross-platform promotions, and melding the in-store/online experience are just some of the ways marketers are leveraging mobile to fuel upper-funnel campaigns.

Secondly, there are still usability and security concerns surrounding making mobile purchases. Though many are adopting mobile design best practices, many marketers still struggle to recognize and adapt. In their 2015 follow-up to an extensive usability study, Baymard Institute notes that even two-plus years past their original findings, it’s not uncommon for mobile e-commerce sites to have a significantly poorer conversion rate than their desktop counterpart – in some cases converting fewer than half as many visitors into customers.

Though the Baymard report worked with test subjects who identified 1,000 + usability issues, some of the most common eCommerce site usability concerns cited globally (not necessarily in this report) center around:

  1. Responsive design
  2. Ease in completing tasks like adding to cart and inputting information
  3. Prominence of call to action
  4. Ability to include deep, multi-level menus
  5. Ability to return to homepage
  6. Searchability of site
  7. Suitability of forms to virtual keyboards

All these issues aside, security is still by far the biggest barrier to mobile purchases. And security comfort level seems to differ across mobile devices. According to one study, Roughly 30% of respondents across devices said increasing security would encourage them to shop more from their phones — 26.7% on Android, and 21.5% on iOS.

What does this mean for your mobile e-commerce shopping strategy?

First and foremost, recognizing that both desktop and mobile devices play significant, yet separate rolls in the e-commerce purchasing funnel is critical for informing your campaign strategies. Second, that your shoppers are becoming an increasingly segmented bunch. Device preference, technology comfort level and the exact moment in buying journey all play a part in determining who will click, where and when.

If you are interested in optimizing your e-commerce strategy with tools that can quickly make sense of these complexities, improve mobile usability and profitably engage customers regardless of where they may be in their buying journey:

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