It’s perhaps fair to say that the hype surrounding mobile commerce has been somewhat overblown, and the heady predictions around the value of trade conducted via our phones has not really materialized. A recent study from the University of East Anglia sheds some light on why that might be so.
The study found that shoppers are less likely to go through with their purchase if they’re using their phone to do so. This is largely due to the challenges inherent in the technology. For instance, they might not be able to fully see the picture of the item they want to buy, or they might miss special offers or hidden costs associated with the purchase.
High abandonment rates
Mobile shopping is undoubtedly on the rise, but rates of shopping cart abandonment remain a concern for the industry as they are considerably higher than when shopping via a desktop device. Data suggests that just 27% of purchases that are initiated on mobile devices make it through to checkout.
“Our study results revealed a paradox,” the authors say. “Mobile shopping is supposed to make the process easier, and yet concerns about making the right choice, or about whether the site is secure enough leads to an ’emotional ambivalence’ about the transaction – and that mean customers are much more likely to simply abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase.”
US online shopping data from 2016-2017 was analyzed by the team to explore reasons why consumers would hesitate at the checkout stage, as well as other parts of the buying process. It emerged that shoppers are much more likely to use mobile apps to research goods than they are to buy them.
“People think differently when they use their mobile phones to make purchases,” the authors explain. “The smaller screen size and uncertainty about missing important details about the purchase make you much more ambivalent about completing the transaction than when you are looking at a big screen.”
The team believe this represents a significant opportunity for savvy retailers. Huge sums are spent attracting consumers to the website and encouraging them to buy online, but if they abandon their carts and fail to check out, it’s a largely wasted investment.
This abandonment is much less likely to occur if the consumer is happy and satisfied with the choice process. As such, the power is in the hands of app designers to make sure the checkout procedure is as clear and smooth as possible. They can minimize clutter so as not to take up valuable screen real estate unnecessarily, for instance, or ensure that sites are organized so that products are effectively categorized.
“Retailers need to invest in technology, but they need to do it in the right way, so the investment pays off,” the researchers say. “Customers are becoming more and more demanding and, with mobile shopping in particular, they don’t forgive failures so offering a streamlined, integrated service is really important.”