May 26, 2017
The digital data and research firm eMarketer.com estimates that one out of every three dollars spent on ecommerce purchases in 2016 traced to a mobile device (phones and tablets), as compared to only 19% just two years earlier. They expect that figure to climb to 43% by 2020, when mcommerce sales will approach $295 billion. Much of the gain traces to consumers’ embrace of smartphones boasting 5-inch screens and larger.
Even though Mobile’s share of ecommerce sales has been growing steadily, some industry analysts have been on trend, but off target. They expected rapid adoption of mobile devices would revolutionize ecommerce. As it turns out, while mobile traffic has been growing about 7 percent annually over the past few years, sales triggered over mobile devices have been growing only 2.7 percent per year, according to data aggregators Statcounter and Comscore.
ComScore reports that during the first quarter of 2017, mobile’s share of all digital commerce was 22% - (notably, far off eMarketer’s 37 percent estimate for the whole of 2017), whereas mobile devices accounted for about for 47% of online traffic. The generally accepted theory is that consumers like small screens for researching purchases they are contemplating and for browsing product offerings, but when it comes time to click the Complete Purchase button, they resort to larger-size screens. Surveys suggest this is due to the constraints which small screens impose and perhaps online merchants historically giving their mobile sites short shrift (although this is rapidly changing).
There are, however, many categories of products where mobile sales exceed sales racked up on desktops. For instance, Comscore reports that during first quarter, 60% of online sales of video games, consoles and accessories traced to phones and tablets; as did 57% of toy and hobby sales and 55% of jewelry and watch sales. In sharp contrast, mobile devices landed only 9% of computer/peripheral/PDA sales and 11% of consumer electronic purchases.
Another meaningful measure is mobile’s share of transactions, as opposed to share of dollar sales. Global ecommerce trend tracker Criteo reports that mobile devices now account for two-thirds of all online transactions. In a company release, Criteo posited that consumers are more comfortable using their phones to buy smaller, less expensive items where there is little need for product information and the risk of making a bad purchase decision is rather low.
It remains to be seen whether larger screens and further improvement in display resolution will ever be enough to convince consumers to complete big-ticket purchases on mobile devices or whether desktops and tablets will continue to dominate.
This ecommerce industry news is presented by Butcher Block Co., a leading online seller of kitchen furniture, countertops and kitchen accessories.
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