Monetate study: Everyone’s on mobile, but no one’s spending money on it

Everyday, we’re hearing more and more about how customers are abandoning other devices to spend most of their time on mobile, but that doesn’t mean brands are seeing big revenues from it.

According to a recently released E-commerce Quarterly report from web optimization platform Monetate, mobile phone usage is predictably on the rise, but it’s still far less of a revenue generator than everybody thinks. Despite the fact that 16% of e-commerce traffic is coming through mobile, it is responsible for less than 4% of the total e-commerce revenues. And conversion rates from mobile remain abysmally low, only 0.83% compared to 2.37% for tablets and 2.65% for desktops.

Monetate VP of product management Bruce Ernst says its mostly because people use mobile for social media, browsing and for getting instant information, which makes it an unlikely place to make a purchase. 

“With mobile, customers are untethered, with only a couple of minutes to spare in a short attention span,” says Ernst. “People haven’t necessarily made the shift from browsing to buying.”

Ernst says mobile, (much like social) is more suited to top-of-the funnel activity such as brand awareness and product discovery. That’s why brands need to optimize their mobile experiences for moving a single customer along in their journey towards an eventual sale, rather than blanket campaigns looking for instant sales results.

Having said that, the report recognized some new developments that would make mobile e-commerce far more effective:

– Apple’s new iOS8 operating system will eliminate the need for customers to manually type their credit card information for e-commerce purchases. Instead, users will be able to upload their card information through a snapped photo, which the device can then save for future purchases.

– Amazon’s Firefly technology for its recently launched smartphone allows users to scan a real-world image and then find the item on Amazon’s site for purchase.

– Direct purchase options on social media such as Like2Buy on Instagram, as well as “buy buttons” from Twitter and Facebook.

The report does issue a word of caution on the new technology:

Though these changes aren’t silver bullets for long-standing issues like poor conversion rates and low Average Order Value, they’ll likely help. And since they’re geared toward eliminating some of the main hurdles customers face on mobile—product discovery, checkout page frustrations, paths to purchase—these changes should have e-commerce teams thinking more about how to further improve the shopping experiences.

Click here to download the entire Ecommerce Quarterly Report from Monetate. (Registration required)

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