Ace the E-Commerce Game as a Consumer or a Business Owner
There’s no denying that online shopping has become a burgeoning industry across the globe. The convenience of buying everything from school textbooks on Amazon to vacation properties on real estate sites—and all from the comfort of your home—gives us more time to handle other responsibilities. The big question that remains, however, is whether people prefer online shopping via mobile device or desktop computer.
This has implications for professionals throughout industries as varied as marketing and industrial manufacturing. As with most things in life, though, the answer to customer preference in mobile vs. desktop isn’t so black and white. Best auction sites like eBay and deal sites like Groupon
The state of online shopping in the U.S.
Before delving into which platform consumers prefer when shopping online, it’s important to understand exactly why e-commerce has gotten so big. Outside of the convenience, it simply makes sense that people are shopping online more. This is because internet access has increased exponentially in America.
In fact, the percentage of Americans with online access grew from 52 percent at the turn of the century to 84 percent when data was last collected. In fact, some groups have reached full saturation. These demographics include affluent households, highly educated individuals, and young adults.
These statistics don’t lie. This can be seen by the fact that, between 2014 and 2016, shoppers increased the number of purchases they made online from 47% to 51%. Online shopping in America is strong, but where is it strongest?
Mobile vs. Desktop Computer Usage
Knowing whether consumers prefer to make e-commerce purchases via mobile device or desktop is a complex question for a variety of reasons. To start, it’s not simply enough to look at overall purchases. This is because statistics don’t take into account ownership of certain devices. After all, an individual who doesn’t own a computer will likely only make online purchases from their smartphone.
The latest data show that 73 percent of Americans own a computer. Conversely, only 68 percent of adults own a smartphone. Someone looking solely at these statistics could say this means more adults will make purchases on their computers.
As it turns out, though, smartphone ownership increased by 33 percentage points between 2011 and 2015. Between 2012 and 2015, however, desktop ownership dropped 7 percentage points. Again, these are just small pieces of the puzzle related to mobile vs. desktop shopping. There are many other factors as well.
If you were keeping up with the news in November 2016, you saw that mobile use exceeded desktop use for the first time ever. Tablets and smartphones made up 51.2 percent of all internet traffic. Unlike the last bit of data, this would seem to indicate that mobile purchases are the soon-to-be “king of the hill.”
In some ways, this is certainly true, but again, nothing is black and white when it comes to online shopping.
What customers want in online shopping
As explored more below, you’ll find that consumers’ personal preference of online shopping can depend on several factors. Regardless of where they shop, though, there are a few things they want. First, they want to be presented with speedy and well-designed sites. A site that isn’t well designed could leave consumers thinking it’s unprofessional, and one study found that a one-second delay in page loading can reduce conversions by 7%.
Wanting to go beyond the obvious, UPS commissioned a study that found that, when asked how they’d want their online shopping experience improved, customers mentioned the following:
- Easy returns and exchanges.
- Additional delivery and checkout options.
- Use of social media.
- Ability to buy mobile.
That’s right: Consumers are demanding more mobile options. As discussed below, however, this doesn’t mean you can ignore the desktop side of things. Knowing this, forward-thinking companies have already taken it upon themselves to cater to both demographics. For instance, there is free desktop browser extension and now mobile app Piggy, a great ally for both mobile and desktop shoppers.
The program Piggy created works on Android and iOS devices. The main focus is to bridge the gap between retailers and consumers, and it does this by helping each side understand the other better. The Piggy program runs in the background and then applies discounts—sometimes upward of 20 percent—at checkout.
A program like this, since it continuously runs in the background without interrupting the shopping experience, works everywhere from retail to travel booking websites. Even with programs like this that can work for both desktop and mobile, you’re likely looking for a solid answer. Here it is …
Mobile vs. Desktop? It Depends
Research has shown that whether consumers prefer mobile or desktop depends on what they’re purchasing. Low-consideration products, such as video games, are increasingly being purchased via a mobile device. In the first quarter of 2016, the following categories were great for mobile:
- Video game products: 49 percent
- Toys/hobbies: 46 percent
- Event tickets: 36 percent
Products such as computers, office supplies, and apparel are more likely to be purchased via desktop. It’s also worth noting that consumers spend 59 percent of their shopping time on mobile devices, but only 15 percent of spending is done via mobile. This is likely because many e-commerce sites aren’t mobile-friendly and consumers aren’t given enough assurance that their data is protected. Craigslist alternatives
Since the majority of actual purchases are made on the desktop, this medium will likely remain a strong source of revenue for e-commerce sites. As companies try to appeal to mobile shoppers more, however, smartphones might take the main stage. This is why products like Piggy are so essential. They work on the desktop and mobile worlds, and both retailers and consumers benefit. It may be retailers, however, who are most excited about the program.
Consumers downloading apps such as Piggy is a no-brainer. They’re getting discounts without having to do anything. Retailers who sign up for the service, however, are gaining access to the constantly growing customer base of Piggy. This is why national retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart are already featured on the app. Corporations are always at the forefront of consumer technology, but small to midsize business owners can beat out their competition by being featured on the platform.
Even better is the analytics Piggy provides, so budding entrepreneurs can see exactly what’s working and what’s not—allowing for quick and easy adjustments. Business owners can use insights to see what their customers really care about, and customers can stay up to date on what’s happening with their favorite companies. All of this takes place on a platform that was custom-made to work on mobile and desktop, so regardless of where consumer preferences rest in the future, Piggy will already be there.