How smartphones are changing buying patterns

Smartphones have become an integral part of online purchasing processes. Here's a look at what has to be considered and which trends are important

How smartphones are changing buying patterns

According to IntelliAd Media, almost one in three purchases (32 percent) is made via a mobile device in Germany. The share of purchases via smartphone continues to rise, while purchases using tablets and especially PCs are continuing to drop year after year. However, the shopping basket values for purchases made on desktop computers is still significantly higher than those of smartphone orders (€129 compared to €87) and the number of goods ordered per purchase transaction is also likely to be lower for mobile commerce. In 2018 mobile e-commerce traffic passed desktop traffic. By now at the latest, every online retailer should have focused their attention on the mobile channel.


Responsive or not? The main thing is fast and lean

The fact that a web shop has to be optimized for mobile devices and their smaller displays should no longer even be a point of discussion. Even if responsive web design has been criticized by some experts as overloaded and in most cases unsuitable, a responsive version for smaller shops and projects is absolutely better than nothing. Even Google recommends responsive solutions for mobile displays and provides tips on how to further optimize your own mobile site. The royal road in terms of usability, however, is and remains an individually designed mobile site.

In the ideal scenario, this type of independent mobile web shop solution is more than just a slimmed down version of the classic online shop. You should take care to rethink the design and information content of the concept. Product descriptions should be shortened without losing the data relevant for a purchase decision. The rule of the early years that image-oriented descriptions should be reduced due to the limited volume of data and that moving image content should not be used at all has been reversed. On the one hand, mobile data plans have increased in volume and, on the other hand, mobile devices are increasingly being used on the sofa at home (i.e., via Wi-Fi), especially in the online shopping environment. And videos can be an excellent means of stimulating sales, especially in mobile commerce. Nevertheless, videos in e-commerce should be optimized for smaller displays (image detail, font sizes, etc.) and compressed file formats are also useful.

Loading times remain important, however. Fast servers and short response times are a real plus because every added second contributes to higher bounce rates. By the way, Google considers this within the context of its specific mobile index, which has been gradually being rolled out since last September. Fast web shops are ranked higher here, as are websites, the metadata of which is well maintained in terms of SEO technology. The relatively new Google My Business (GMB) entry deserves special attention, especially if you want your branch shops to be ranked well in local search results.


Mobile advertising is still inexpensive, but no longer the bargain it once was

It is also advisable to specifically use mobile ads. Even though the difference between online and mobile advertising is no longer as big as it was five years ago, the cost per click for mobile SEA is still significantly lower for desktop advertising (0.05 to 0.1 cent according to the IntelliAd study). In addition to search engine ads, Amazon is also a good place for certain forms of advertising. The ad formats that have been marketed since last autumn under the collective term Amazon Advertising often have a more favorable cost-per-click ratio than comparable Google advertising formats. This is the right place for you if, for example, you sell private label products or are a manufacturer yourself. The Advertising Console (formerly Amazon Marketing Services AMS) is particularly suitable for retailers, while Amazon Media Group and Amazon DSP are more suitable for large branded companies.

In the mobile shop itself, it also makes sense to optimize the checkout process. Because it is often only at the end that it becomes apparent how good a mobile website really is. Many people cancel their purchases at the last moment. A smooth customer login, understandable and user-friendly steps in the checkout area and, if possible, a one-click checkout, as offered by Apple or Amazon, make valuable contributions to ensuring the customer is not lost right at the end of the purchase process.

It is also helpful to know as much as possible about the customer. The customer journey with its numerous touchpoints not only has to be tracked across different devices, but in some cases even between the online and offline worlds to gain a 360-degree view of the customer. After all, the purchase situation is not always optimal. The customer may be interrupted, on the go or just want to check the price of a product quickly to compare it with the price at the local shop. This makes it all the more important to remind customers from time to time that they still have a few items in their shopping cart, that they are interested in a particular item or have recently purchased an item, for which you are now offering them accessories. The best possible targeting and sensible (not excessive stalker-like) use of the customer journey is an important element for m-commerce success.

Thanks to various sensors, smartphones can do more than notebooks and you should make use of this. Especially GPS and the compass, but also the integrated camera or communication channels like Whatsapp allow you to address the customer in a concrete way that is appropriate to their situation. By the way, this is also a good reason for using and issuing a retailer app. Once a company has made it onto the user’s home screen, it is more likely that purchases will be made and the smartphone-specific features can be used much more extensively. The advertising network Criteo has found that merchants achieve three times the conversion rate through their customers in the app than users who arrive via the mobile website. In addition, some of the features require the customer’s consent within the framework of the GDPR and it is much easier to acquire this consent within the framework of an app.


The bottom line: business is increasingly mobile

Mobile commerce is more than just one channel among many. Retailers can no longer work without a mobile web shop and anyone who can recognize their customers and detect repeat visits can draw valuable conclusions from the customer journey. That’s why an app can help boost sales and the brand image. In general, it remains important, particularly in the mobile channel, to position yourself well with Google (and the customer) through fast loading times and good mobile SEO.