Buy on the Fly: Recent Trends in the Changing World of Mobile Commerce

Buy on the Fly: Recent Trends in the Changing World of Mobile Commerce

by Stevie Yap

As smartphone and tablet adoption continue to increase, the number of people with access to mobile internet continues to grow. As a result, mobile buying has entered the mainstream. We are not just talking about digital products either – recent research suggests that consumers are becoming more comfortable than ever buying tangible goods via mobile web. What are some of the emerging trends in mobile commerce?


Smartphone vs Tablet? Size matters

Recent data suggest that tablets are used more than smartphones for actual purchases, and smartphones are used more for browsing/researching products. However, with screen sizes on smartphones becoming larger with each generation of device, these differences are narrowing.

iOS vs. Android

Buying behavior varies across operating systems. Data suggests that iOS continues to lead Android in sales performance and conversion rates. This likely reflects several important demographic differences in people who use each OS rather than the characteristics of OS itself, with Apple users typically being younger, more educated and having higher incomes on average. Indeed, if you examine the behavior of just consumers that use high-end Android devices (e.g., Samsung Galaxy S6), sales and conversion rates are comparable to those seen in iOS users.

The importance of user interface

It is not surprising that user interface is linked to mobile commerce. For example, screen size of the mobile device has a direct linear relationship with conversion rates – the bigger the screen, the more likely a user will convert to purchase. One of the main barriers to mobile sales is frustration with checkout process – with difficulty entering credit card information and billing addresses on mobile devices leading to people leaving unpurchased products in their virtual carts. Providing “one-click” solutions to checkout – employing the use of stored credit card data (e.g., Amazon one-click and Apple Pay) reduces this friction and leads to higher rates of completed purchases.

Mobile web vs. in-App

Recent data suggest that mobile web continues to dominate mobile shopping and purchasing behavior. As such, mobile optimization is an absolute must if e-retailers wish to capitalize on consumers’ growing mobile commerce behaviors. Further, even for purchases that will ultimately happen on a desktop computer, many of the shopping, browsing and researching behaviors that come before actual purchases happen on mobile devices. In contrast, apps do offer advantages to users such as camera integration, notifications, faster log-in and checkout (reducing the checkout frustration discussed above), but are typically used by only regular customers and heavy buyers from a particular retailer or site.

The evolution of search

The way in which consumers can search for items is evolving to fit mobile, and innovations like visual search and predictive search are changing the path of mobile shopping. For example, Slyce Inc., a Toronto based company, produces technology that allows consumers to search through an online catalogue using simply a photo. Imagine walking down the street and seeing a coat you like – you snap a picture of it and without knowing the brand or the name of the coat you are able to find it or something similar to it on your smartphone. Now that’s shopping on the fly! See how this works below:

Similarly, predictive search technology like Google Now is beginning to take the guess work out of mobile shopping for consumers by surfacing products and services to consumers before they even consciously decide that they need them. Here’s an example:

Overall, this type of technology is clearly shaping e-commerce, and the way people spend money on their mobile devices.

About insighta

Insighta is a boutique research firm specializing in understanding people and using data to surface insights about your customers, clients, and larger consumer base. At insighta, we are behavioral scientists with real expertise you can leverage to answer real world questions. We combine the the rigor of true science with psychologists’ broad understanding of people, their thought processes, and their behavior to deliver data-driven insights you can trust to drive action and growth in your organization.