How to Close Your “Mobile Gap” and Boost Conversions

Each year, the Adobe Dig­i­tal Insights team cap­tures data on a wide range of retail met­rics over the two months from 1 Novem­ber to 31 Decem­ber. The team’s analy­sis of this past hol­i­day season’s shop­ping trends reveals some intrigu­ing shifts in how large and small retail­ers com­pete in the dig­i­tal space.

More cus­tomers shopped lat­er. In fact, at 34 per­cent, growth in shop­ping activ­i­ty on the last Mon­day before Christ­mas was near­ly four times the sea­son­al aver­age across all coun­tries world­wide. In oth­er words, large and small retail­ers are becom­ing more effec­tive at con­vert­ing their vis­i­tors.

And yet, while small­er US retail­ers are find­ing new ways to close the gap in terms of eye­balls on advertising—achieving an enor­mous 193 per­cent year-over-year leap in dis­play traf­fic on Black Fri­day and Cyber Monday—larger, more estab­lished play­ers con­tin­ue to out­per­form small­er ones, espe­cial­ly in terms of mobile con­ver­sions, which lag far behind con­ver­sions in store and on desk­top.

What’s going on behind this “mobile gap?” Why do larg­er retail­ers con­tin­ue to out­per­form small­er ones on mobile, despite an increas­ing­ly even play­ing field in the dig­i­tal space? The answers reveal some intrigu­ing behav­iour­al pat­terns among mobile shop­pers, along with some oppor­tu­ni­ties for small­er retail­ers to close the gap.

The nature of the gap

This past hol­i­day sea­son, US search spend increased 16 per­cent year-over-year on Black Fri­day, and mobile search­es dou­bled their impres­sions on both days. This sharp increase points to a larg­er trend: cus­tomers are becom­ing increas­ing­ly like­ly to per­form a prod­uct search on a mobile device before they ever open an app or vis­it a brick-and-mor­tar store.

On the whole, mobile sales held strongest on some of the biggest rev­enue days, as well as on the small­est. In the US, Christ­mas and Christ­mas Eve actu­al­ly ranked low­est in terms of total sales on mobile, with Thanks­giv­ing and Super Sat­ur­day rank­ing clos­er to the top. This hints that a grow­ing num­ber of cus­tomers are look­ing to take advan­tage of hol­i­day sales with­out brav­ing the in-store foot traf­fic, or to inves­ti­gate and/or pur­chase before ever set­ting foot in a store. Mobile pro­vides an ide­al touch­point for those types of con­ver­sions.

Yet odd­ly enough, mobile vis­its con­tin­ue to far out­pace mobile rev­enue around the world. Even in the UK, where mobile accounts for the high­est per­cent­age of rev­enue, only 41 per­cent of sales take place on mobile, even though 60 per­cent of vis­its are made from a smart­phone. In France, mean­while, mobile devices account for only 26 per­cent of all rev­enue, but 44 per­cent of vis­its. In fact, while mobile traf­fic con­tin­ues to climb, mobile con­ver­sion rates remain flat, around 1 per­cent, for many retail­ers, lag­ging far behind con­ver­sion rates on desk­top.

This “mobile gap” is a cause for concern—but it’s also an enor­mous oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Caus­es and solu­tions

One cru­cial step along the path to bet­ter attri­bu­tion is more con­sis­tent map­ping of spe­cif­ic cus­tomers’ jour­neys across mobile search, desk­top, and brick-and-mor­tar. For exam­ple, large mul­ti­chan­nel retail­ers can offer cus­tomers the option to shop and buy online at the last minute, then pick up their pur­chas­es in-store in time for the holiday—a fact that con­tin­ues to give larg­er retail­ers the advan­tage in terms of mobile con­ver­sions.

In oth­er words, a low con­ver­sion rate on mobile doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly equal lost sales. Mobile serves func­tions that sim­ply didn’t exist in the old desk­top-only world—for exam­ple, the roles once filled by phone books and spe­cial-offer mail­ers. Thus, to some degree, this “mobile gap” may boil down to an attri­bu­tion prob­lem, which will begin to van­ish as we bet­ter under­stand the ways desk­top, mobile, and in-store sup­port one another’s func­tions through­out the cus­tomer jour­ney.

Last year, Adobe launched the Mul­ti-Device Attri­bu­tion Co-Op to address this chal­lenge and give retail­ers a clear­er over­all pic­ture of how each cus­tomer uses each device through­out the path to pur­chase. With mul­ti­de­vice ana­lyt­ics, it’s pos­si­ble to gain a more accu­rate view of the true mobile con­ver­sion rate.

Still, even with that more accu­rate view, peo­ple are buy­ing less on mobile devices than they did on desk­top, even when they report that they came to the mobile touch­point with the intent to buy. This is because the vast major­i­ty of mobile shop­ping expe­ri­ences remain lengthy and cum­ber­some.

The solu­tion to this fric­tion is dras­tic sim­pli­fi­ca­tion and stream­lin­ing. US-based Razor­fish, for exam­ple, has devel­oped a “five-field check­out,” replac­ing the whop­ping 23 fields many mobile stores force cus­tomers to fill out on the path to purchase—and dra­mat­i­cal­ly rais­ing con­ver­sion rates. Even a bit of minor stream­lin­ing, such as improved inte­gra­tion with mobile wal­lets, has been shown to mea­sur­ably boost mobile con­ver­sions.

In short, while some caus­es of the mobile gap, such as the desire for in-store pick-up, are prob­a­bly here to stay for the fore­see­able future, oth­er caus­es, such as inad­e­quate attri­bu­tion mod­el­ing and cum­ber­some mobile points of sale, can be addressed with exist­ing tools and approach­es. If you’re look­ing to close your own organisation’s mobile gap, we at Adobe are here to help.

 

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