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6 Key Mobile Trends Shaping this Year's Holiday Shopping Season

By Ajay Kapur
Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Mobile holiday shopping traffic is predicted to be higher than ever this season. Here are six trends to be aware of as 2015 comes to an end.

The holidays are approaching, and mobile is going to play a bigger role in eCommerce than ever before.

Last year, mobile holiday shopping traffic surpassed desktop for the first time.

Retailers are expecting even higher mobile traffic this year.

Below are six key mobile holiday shopping trends we’re seeing take shape for 2015, and how to optimize your mobile site for the forecasted web traffic.

Related Article: Mobile App Marketing: How Apps Contribute to the Consumer Journey

1. More Holiday Purchases Will Be Influenced by Mobile Than Ever Before

Consumers are turning to their mobile devices during all steps of the shopping journey, from inspiration to product research to purchase.

More than 40 percent of online activities are cross-device. And over two-thirds of emails are opened on mobile.

Net-net: Customers expect seamless experiences across all channels and devices.

2. Mobile Moments Will Drive Online Shopper Behavior

Consumers expect to get what they want in the moment they need it.

They expect their mobile experiences to be frictionless.

And they’re less concerned about where they buy their products (brand loyalty) than factors like price and fast, mobile optimized experiences.

  • 64 percent of smartphone users expect a site to load in 4 seconds or less
  • 1 in 4 online shoppers abandon their carts if a site’s navigation is too complex
  • 41 percent of holiday shoppers purchased from a new retailer last year
  • 36 percent of online shoppers abandon their carts because they find a better price elsewhere

The expected growth of mobile traffic this holiday season means this in-the-moment mindset will play a larger role in online shopping behavior than ever before.

And brands that fail to meet their customers’ needs during their mobile moments will lose out.

This means not only delivering fast, mobile-specific experiences but also paying close attention the nuances of online consumer behavior.

3. The Line Between Online and In-Store Has Blurred

Ninety percent of retail shoppers use smartphones in stores. They’re looking up everything from reviews to product information to pricing comparisons. ‘Mobile showrooming,’ the practice of evaluating a product in the store only to buy it on mobile, is now mainstream.

Consumers are using their smartphones even when they have access to in-store resources. The Consumer Electronics Association, for example, found that 58 percent of shoppers preferred to look up information on their mobile devices while shopping rather than speaking to store employees.

And not only are consumers turning to their smartphones while in stores, the path from mobile screen to brick-and-mortar is also shortening.

  • 90 percent of retail shoppers use their smartphones in stores
  • 50 percent of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphones visit a store within a day
  • 18 percent of local searches on smartphone lead to a purchase within a day
  • 47 percent of online holiday shoppers will opt for buy online, ship-to-store or pick-up-in-store options

Brands with a brick-and-mortar presence are no longer thinking of their online presence and physical storefronts in silos.

From easy-to-tap store locator features on mobile sites to easily clickable pick-up-in-store options in mobile checkouts, it’s now easier than ever for consumers to easily navigate between their in-store and online holiday shopping experiences.

4. Mobile Checkout Conversions Will Improve but Remain a Challenge

Over 2 out of 3 online shoppers1 abandon their shopping carts.

On mobile devices, the shopping cart abandonment challenge is even greater, as mobile conversion rates are about 70 percent lower than desktop.

Although the gap between mobile and desktop will remain this holiday season, there are a number of UX best practices retailers can implement to reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase their mobile checkout conversions.

Some examples include:

  • Auto-detection of a mobile shopper’s city and state based on their zip code
  • Auto-detection of credit card type (Visa, MC, AmEx) based on card number
  • Testing form fields to ensure compatibility with the autofill capabilities of today’s popular mobile browsers
  • Hiding option fields such as promotion code fields behind an accordion. User studies show that shoppers fill out all visible fields.

The mobile checkout process offers countless opportunities for driving higher conversions on mobile. It also, however, remains one of the most challenging aspects of converting mobile shoppers.

Unfortunately, one-touch payment options such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and PayPal One Touch are not widely deployed within the top eCommerce sites. Shoppers will still need to peck in sixteen-digit credit card numbers in the 2015 holiday season.

This holiday season, check out conversions may well be higher than last year, however, the gap between mobile and desktop checkout conversions remains.

5. The Mobile Web Will Continue to Dominate as Apps Play a Supporting Role

App usage accounts for 54 percent of the time spent using digital media.

A closer look at the comScore data, however, reveals that 8 out of every 10 minutes of smartphone app time is actually spent on an individual’s top 3 apps.

And according to Forrester, mobile shoppers prefer mobile websites to native apps for all mobile shopping-related activities except using stored-value cards in-store.

It’s therefore not surprising that for most retailers, the mobile web plays a larger role in mobile commerce than do apps.

While apps excel at cultivating customer loyalty, the web remains the main engine driving mobile traffic and revenue, with the mobile web contributing 95 percent of traffic growth to retail sites, versus just 5 percent by apps.

Using comScore data, Morgan Stanley says the web is winning:

Related Article: Marketing to the Mobile Man and the Mobile Woman

Apps versus mobile web: Web winning?

Thus the vast majority of retailers, even those with popular apps, are continuing to focus on optimizing their mobile web experiences this holiday season.

6. Retailers Who Are Not Optimizing All of Their Mobile Experiences Will Lose Out

Tablets burst onto the scene in 2010 with the launch of the iPad. Quarter after quarter, sales of tablets were on the rise.

Earlier this year, however, Forrester Research found that tablet sales reached a plateau.

Forrester Research World Tablet Adoption Forecast, 2013 to 2018 (Global), Q4 Update

According to Forrester Research, tablets are becoming increasingly critical for business. More than half of employees use a tablet for work purposes at least once a week, the study says. While those aren’t near the same numbers as laptops and smartphones, it shows a critical presence.

Based on our analysis of over 300 million mobile sessions in Q32015, we found that tablet shoppers convert at more than 2.4 times the rate of smartphone shoppers.

And tablet shoppers generate over 2.2 times as much revenue per visit as consumers shopping on their smartphones.

Related Article: A Hand-Held World: The Future of Mobile Advertising

Recap of Trends

The 2015 holiday season is no doubt going to be filled with many milestones for mobile commerce, with both new and continuing trends:

  • More holiday purchases will be influenced by mobile than ever before
  • Mobile moments will drive online shopper behavior
  • The line between online and in-store will continue to blur
  • Mobile checkout conversions will improve but remain a challenge
  • The mobile web will continue to dominate over mobile apps
  • Retailers who are not optimizing all of their mobile experiences will lose out

It’s an exciting year for mobile commerce. Marketers face more opportunities to engage holiday shoppers on mobile than ever before. Is your brand ready?

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