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Mobile is key online purchase channel not just for browsing says new study that claims retailers not measuring properly

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Everything you know is wrong – and the adage of ‘browse on smartphone buy on desktop’ is dead. So says a new report that suggests retailers are not measuring conversion rates across devices properly and could well be undercounting conversion rates by as much as 40% on all customer journeys and that they might be misattributing up to 31% of transactions.

This is according to the latest State of Cross-Device Commerce Report from Criteo. In prior years, Criteo’s bi-annual report centred on mobile commerce; however, this edition reflects the need for retailers to deepen their understanding of cross-device consumer behaviour and align marketing strategies to maximise ROI.

And this year it finds that by not measuring properly retailers don’t know how and where people are converting, nor how well their advertising is working, potentially wasting millions of dollars and leading to creation of erroneous strategies.

Interestingly, it is mobile that comes out on top. The customer journey remains dynamic across devices, says the study, but mobile is showing a higher transaction rate with a higher average order size. Some 36% of all online purchases in the US were completed on mobile, a year-over-year increase of 20%. Order values on both smartphones and tablets are increasing. Smartphone spend increased 7% year-over-year, while tablets are approaching transaction value parity with desktops.

At 55% compared to 45%, respectively, mobile apps captured more transactions than mobile browsers, a trend first noted in Criteo’s H1 2016 report.

Fashion and luxury retailers retained the largest share of mobile transactions, at 41%, while sporting goods purchases on mobile grew the most – an impressive 30% increase year-over-year – to claim second place.

The report goes on to say that smartphones are the key device in cross-device buying. The adage “browse on your smartphone, buy on your desktop” is officially dead. Consumers now reach for their smartphones for both searching and purchasing, making it even more important for retailers to provide a synchronised experience across desktop and mobile:

This is backed up by the study, which found that nearly a third of all cross-device transactions begin with a smartphone. Top retailers in the US grew sales from smartphone transactions to 25% of all online retail sales in the second half of 2016, representing a year-over-year increase of 41%.

Cross-device buyers are fairly evenly represented across the three primary purchase devices: smartphone (28%), tablet (36%) and desktop (31%).

Marketers can no longer afford a siloed view of their customers’ shopping behaviours. Savvy retailers offer a seamless user experience across all devices to capture purchases wherever they take place – and, with a cross-device view of the customer shopping journey, they spend their marketing dollars more wisely.

“Adoption of a cross-device measurement strategy is a critical imperative for all retailers,” said Miriam Newton, Vice President, Product Marketing, Criteo. “Marketers not only need to adopt cross-device measurement to ensure proper attribution, but also to ensure their spend is optimised for the channels delivering the highest performance. Retailers who are able to deliver a seamless and personalised customer experience across devices will stand out from the crowd.”

Justin Opie, MD, IMRG added: “Understanding how consumers shop across multiple platforms – where, when and how – is no longer a nice to have for advertisers, it’s essential if they’re to effectively optimise spend. While new technologies, such as smartwatches, continue to add complexity to the cross-device journey, they also represent a real opportunity for brands to personalise every stage of the shopping experience. The retailers that account for this trend will be best placed to succeed in today’s digital world.”


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