More Searches Are Carried Out on Mobile, so Why Are Most Sales Still Completed via Desktop?

More searches are made on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets than desktop devices such as PCs and laptop, but more actual purchases are made from desktops. These facts might initially appear to contradict each other, but an integrated marketing approach can shed some light on this.

Here we look at how mobile and desktop search can work together in a customer’s journey from the initial search to conversion. We also show how, for these digital marketing channels to combine effectively, a responsive web design is vital.

Searches versus Conversions

Use of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, has been growing steadily. One recent survey estimated that around 80% of people in the UK now own a smartphone, while another suggested that the average household now has more internet-connected devices than people! Research by Ofcom has also suggested that most people in the UK now regard their phone as their number one device, rather than their laptop as in the past.

It’s therefore no surprise that, according to a survey carried out in the second half of 2016, 59% of sessions on eCommerce sites are now carried out on mobile phones or tablets. However, the same study revealed that only 38% of revenue came from mobiles, with most sales – and 67% of spending – still coming via PC. So, what is the reason for this?

Searching from Different Devices

It seems the key to this apparent contradiction is that many users initiate searches for a product or service via mobile, as they start to carry out research. Then, once they make a decision to buy, they actually make a purchase or take action at a desktop. There could be multiple reasons for this:

  • Time – It’s possible to do a mobile search on the move, while on public transport or during a quick break at work. The prospective customer may not have the time to go through a checkout process there and then, so they do initial research now, then save details of the product until they get home and have more time.
  • Involving Others – Both mobile devices and PCs can have a role if you need to check with someone else about details, such as choice of colour, dates or other variables. If you want the advice of a friend or colleague, calling up an image on your phone may be the easiest way to show them what you are thinking of buying. However, if you want to carry out a purchase together, both looking at the screen, a desktop or laptop is obviously more amenable to that scenario.
  • Screen Size – Making a purchase on a larger screen may be easier, allowing you to see the product in more detail and collect more information. Another consideration is text size – customers may want to be sure they have seen all the small print before making that final purchase click.
  • Site Difficulties and Security Concerns – Sometimes eCommerce isn’t so easy to negotiate on mobile sites, so, even if a customer sets out to buy via mobile, they may become frustrated and decide to finish the transaction via a desktop. Many people are also still deterred from shopping on their phone because they are worried about possible problems with security and privacy, which is another reason why they decide to use a PC over a trusted, secure network connection.

Need for a Website that Works on All Devices

If your site is only viewable on a desktop computer, users probably will not look at you when they are doing a search on their mobile. Or they may try but then realise they cannot see your site properly on their smartphone or tablet, so they go elsewhere. Although they may go to your site on a PC, the likeliest outcome is that they will find a mobile-friendly site and buy there instead.

Looking to the future, with fast developments in mobile technology and improvements in cyber-security, it’s increasingly likely that customers will be looking not just to carry out searches on smartphones, but also to complete the purchase via mobile sites. Non-responsive sites which have thus far depended on the preference for completing sales via desktop, are likely to find their share of the market dwindling over time.

So responsive web design is becoming ever more important – and even if your site is already mobile friendly it may need further development to ensure it has the latest features and gives customers a streamlined journey. Just having a text size which can easily be read on a phone is not the whole story.  Page load speed is another important consideration, since if a site takes a long time to load on a mobile it will put customers off. If it is difficult to touch the links or buttons, or if videos won’t play correctly, these factors can be additional deterrents for would-be customers.

An Integrated Approach

The ideal solution is an integrated digital marketing strategy which offers both mobile and desktop channels to capture both ends of the decision-making process. A mobile-responsive site allows customers to easily find you when searching and browsing on a mobile, and perhaps even place items of interest into a shopping cart; but it also gives them the option of completing the purchase later on a larger screen, if they prefer.

Hughes & Co Design are specialists in responsive website design, providing great-looking and user-friendly sites which will allow your customers to find you on mobile or desktop devices, making their journey from research to purchase as simple, and as flexible, as possible. Follow the link  to contact us.