New research reveals mobile shopping paradox

New research reveals mobile shopping paradox

Shoppers are much less likely to go through with their purchases if they are using phones and tablets, according to new research from the University of East Anglia. This is because consumers often worry they are not seeing the full picture on a mobile app or that they could be missing out on special offers or overlooking hidden costs. Concerns about privacy and security are also key here.

The research suggests that retailers should focus on developing apps that are more streamlined, uncluttered and better integrated with payment features such as Apple Pay. According to Criteo, the share of e-commerce traffic from mobile devices increased to 46% of global e-commerce traffic in Q2 2016; however, only 27% of purchases initiated on this channel were finalised and conversion rates significantly lagged behind desktop initiated purchases.

“Our study results revealed a paradox,” says Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis, of Norwich Business School at UEA. “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.”

The researchers studied online shopping data from 2016-2017 from consumers in Taiwan and the US. They found that the reasons for hesitation at the checkout stage were broadly the same in both countries. In addition, shoppers are much more likely use mobile apps as a way of researching and organising goods, rather than as a purchasing tool, and this also contributes to checkout hesitation. “People think differently when they use their mobile phones to make purchases,” says Dr Korfiatis. “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…Retailers need to invest in technology, but they need to do it in the right way, so the investment pays off. 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.”

Flora Huang, the study’s lead author, adds: “This is a phenomenon that has not been well researched, yet it represents a huge opportunity for retailers. Companies spend a lot of money on tactics such as pay-per-click advertising to bring consumers into online stores – but if those consumers come in via mobile apps and then are not finalising their purchases, a lot of that money will be wasted.”

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