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Why Are Mobile Conversion Rates Behind Desktop?


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Mobile now accounts for the majority of visits to retailers, but mobile conversion rates lag behind desktop. We take a look at the reasons for this.

A decade on from the release of the first iPhone, mobile shopping is massive. Much of this is thanks to Apple, and the many smartphones which followed, but there are still obstacles to mobile commerce.

According to stats from Monetate, smartphone traffic worldwide to retailers is at 56.2%, and 34.5% for desktop.

traffic by device stats
However, this mobile traffic is converting at less than half the rate of that on desktop, at 2.25% compared to 4.81% for desktop. Even tablet fares better, converting at 4.06% on average.

We’ve seen the same pattern in our own stats. Around half of all visits to retailer’s sites come from mobile, but just 36% of purchases take place on mobile.

It seems that people are happy to browse on mobile, but many still prefer to buy on desktop, so let’s look at the reasons why.

There are several reasons why people prefer to buy on a laptop or PC. For one, it can be easier to navigate around a site and view images on a bigger screen, so some shoppers may browse on mobile and select products later on.

People are also more likely to buy on desktop when purchases are more complex. Travel purchases are generally more expensive and complicated – only 18% complete bookings on mobile.

Much of the issue comes down to checkout. Indeed, the add to cart rates shown above suggest this. While mobile conversion rates are less than half that of desktop, add to cart rates aren’t so far behind.

The average mobile add to cart rate is 10.4%, compared to 12.9% for desktop. This implies that people are adding items to their cart at similar rates, but many more are bailing out during checkout.

The biggest issue behind lower mobile conversions is the checkout. So how can checkout be made easier? Here are three ways to do this…

People hate registering before they begin a purchase, and it seems like hard work for mobile shoppers, so providing a guest checkout option is one way to improve conversion rates.
It’s a barrier for customers, and one that isn’t necessary, as they can complete registration after purchase anyway.

Making forms easier and faster reduces hassle for shoppers, and reduces sources of friction where people might abandon checkout.

Sites can allow users to autofill address and payment details saved on their phone’s browser, or postcode lookup tools to reduce the number steps customers need to take.

Small details matter, such as defaulting to the most appropriate smartphone keyboard, like the numeric version for entering payment card details. It’s about making it easier for customers through marginal improvements.

Payment methods matter too, and providing alternatives can make it easier for mobile shoppers. Card details take time to enter, but PayPal and digital wallet options like Apple Pay can make payment fast and smooth.
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Mobile is a challenge for retailers, but now that customers have shown they’re willing to browse and buy on mobile, it’s all about making the payment process smooth and easy for shoppers.

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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.