Growing Mobile Traffic Underscores Importance of Mobile Friendly Sites and Apps

According to data from comScore, 13 percent of U.S. Internet users that visited retailers online did so only using mobile devices, including both mobile web and mobile apps. Meanwhile nine out of the ten largest online retailers in North America are seeing at least one-third of their digital traffic in the mobile channel, and at least 50 percent of digital traffic is from smartphones or tablets for five of the top ten. With the increase in mobile-only Internet users and total mobile traffic across all Internet users, it is as important as ever for organizations to leverage mobile optimized sites and/or mobile apps as sales conversion tools.


More and more consumers continue to transact and complete tasks from their mobile devices they used to have to do on a computer or in-person. This goes across many industries, from banking and financial services, to insurance, retail and beyond. Consumers are able to do so much from their mobile devices many are opting not to even use computers anymore. According to data measured by comScore in January of this year, 10 percent of U.S. Internet users only went online from mobile devices. Additionally, 13 percent U.S. Internet users that visited, browsed or shopped retailers in January 2015 only did so from a mobile device, whether using a mobile web browser or a mobile app.


In addition to the 13 percent of U.S. Internet users that visit retail sites using their mobile devices only, there are many desktop Internet users that use mobile as well. Looking at the ten largest merchants based on online volume according to Internet Retailer’s Top 500 list, all but one of these organizations has at least one-third of their total digital traffic (including all site and app visits) coming from the mobile channel while more than 40 percent of digital traffic is mobile traffic for eight of the top ten and more than half is mobile traffic for five of the top ten.


While mobile traffic is continuing to grow there is still a significant disparity between conversion rates in traditional eCommerce and the mobile channels. Multiple studies show that tablets tend to have conversion rates closer to that of computer-based eCommerce, but smartphones lag far behind. For example, data from Monetate’s Q4 2014 eCommerce Quarterly estimates the global conversion rate for traditional, desktop- or laptop-based, eCommerce is 3.41 percent compared to 2.86 percent on tablets and 0.92 percent on smartphones. The value of the mobile channel should be measured beyond just sales conversion, as the many consumers start in the mobile channel before completing the purchase from their tablet or PC, or even purchasing in-store.


Still, for most organizations it is worth considering the potential ROI from developing or better leveraging a mobile optimized website and/or a dedicated mobile app.The decision to offer a mobile app or optimized site should be based on several considerations and criteria, but with the continued growth and development of mobile commerce most merchants that sell online would benefit from offering at least one of these options, if not both. According to data from the third annual Mobile Payments and Fraud Survey, 48 percent of merchants have a dedicated mobile website while 52 percent offer an online app for mobile shopping.


Developing a mobile app is an investment, but has several potential benefits. On the sales side the mobile app can encourage more browsing which in turn can lead to more sales. Additionally, mobile apps may allow a merchant to send push notifications notifying users of sales and promotions. Another consideration is ease of payment within mobile apps. Keep in mind payment platforms like Apple Pay and Android Pay enable mobile users to make payments directly within an app as well. This means the consumer can quickly provide their fingerprint or password and all of the needed payment and shipping information is provided to the merchant.


Even if a merchant offers a mobile app, they should also consider a mobile-optimized site. Not all consumers will download an app, especially if they have not done business with the merchant before. Mobile optimized sites are important because they tend to result in consumers spending more time on the site, and even if the visit doesn’t result in a sale it can lead to one in another channel. Many consumers visit a merchant’s website to see if items are on sale or in-stock with the intent of purchasing in-store. Often times the consumer may already be at a competitor’s retail store but they want to check the price or availability of this product elsewhere.


Data from comScore shows mobile traffic is continuing to grow, and in 2015 consumers have less patience for websites that are difficult to navigate or use from a mobile device. Optimizing websites for mobile will help keep consumers engaged and on track to finish what they planned to accomplish (whether that’s completing a transaction or researching a transaction they plan to make later or in another channel).


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