The State Of Mobile Commerce Search: Preparing For 2017

0aPavanSondur UnbxdMobile commerce has reached its tipping point. Mobile-optimized sites and shopping apps are no longer a “nice to have” for e-Tailers, but an absolute must in order to grow profitability and GMV from mobile channels. This is because e-Commerce has grown to be mobile-first, with the majority of users opting to shop on mobile devices over desktop, accounting for 61% of total e-Commerce traffic.

However, this isn’t the complete picture when it comes to understanding this shift. It turns out that despite the significant shift to mobile, conversions are lower by 63% for mobile as compared with desktop shopping.

By analyzing the site search behavior of mobile shoppers across 500 million sessions and transactions worth $1.1 billion, we sought to understand what factors are specifically holding mobile back. It turns out that mobile shoppers are indeed adding items to shopping carts, but ultimately not placing orders. The share of cart additions on mobile has grown 2.6-fold in the last two years — nearly on par with desktop at 43% — but order volumes remain much lower compared to desktop. Mobile users are choosing to add products to cart, but ultimately not completing transactions.


Perhaps this is due, in part, to the fact that the nature of mobile shopping is biased towards short, ‘snackable’ sessions. With constant notifications and alerts drawing shoppers away to messaging, calls and other apps, attention spans on mobile are very short. Our research indicates that mobile shoppers browse in multiple, separate sessions for this reason, with repeat sessions clocking in at 43% shorter in duration compared with desktop sessions.

Given these tendencies, how can e-Commerce retailers work to increase mobile sales and capture more revenue from potential mobile shoppers? A key strategic approach to combatting these hurdles is to enhance the mobile site search experience. Our studies demonstrate that 70% of mobile shoppers prefer to use site search over category browsing or organic search, for its ease of use and shorter path to purchase. However, this preference means the search experience is particularly susceptible to drop-offs; mobile shoppers are 74% more likely than desktop shoppers to bounce because of a poor search experience.

Personalizing the search experience is the key to successfully engaging and re-engaging users, and increasing the potential lifetime value of those shoppers. The likelihood of purchase is directly proportional to the number of visits, so if a shopper is returning to you for the 10th time, they are 5X more likely to purchase.

When it comes to session duration, mobile shoppers who cross the 10-minute mark are your most valuable. The largest cohort of mobile shoppers spends between one to five minutes shopping, but getting shoppers to spend more than 10 minutes on your site can yield over 10X higher conversion rates, and 21% higher average order value.

By understanding user product discovery behavior and how it varies across verticals, retailers can tailor the mobile search experience to individual segments of users. Personalized search requires a number of considerations, the simplest of which are device screen size and location. Not all mobile devices provide the same user experience, and therefore, the same potential to drive sales — we’ve seen that search on phablets converts at 6X higher as compared with smaller-sized phones. In this case, it’s absolutely worth considering how you might distinguish the search experience on large versus small phones in order to maximize opportunities.

Similarly, shopper location can affect product discovery behavior and be used to better structure and present search results. Shoppers who view products via site search on mobile often have a local purchase intent, with 76% visiting a nearby store on the same day. 28% of these visits result in a purchase, and six out of every 10 shoppers check product availability in their nearby stores on mobile.

Now that mobile traffic has crossed the tipping point, e-Commerce retailers must take advantage of on-the-go shoppers and leverage intelligent, machine learning site search to drive them into the purchase cycle and raise mobile conversation rates. A smarter approach to search will enhance the experience for your shoppers and pave the way to cultivating loyal customers!

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The Co-Founder and CEO of Unbxd, Pavan Sondur is the architect of its global growth story. Sondur was previously a developer at NetApp and Gluster, where he built GlusterFS, its multi-petabyte open source file storage system. Sondur is passionate about technology, the Internet and consumer behavior. His views on the e-Commerce industry are frequently covered in the international media.

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