Mobile shopping

Although holiday sales are expected to show a modest year-over-year gain this season, online sales are pegged to soar 17 percent, according to one recent report.

Jimmy Duvall, chief product officer at BigCommerce, said in the second-quarter e-commerce sales rose 15 percent year-over-year, and said “sales projections for the 2016 holiday season are expected to be similarly impressive.”

Duvall noted that the National Retail Federation said national e-commerce sales “grew almost three-times the rate of total retail sales during last year’s holiday season. And if we look at the data from BigCommerce merchants during last year’s Cyber Five — the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday — [gross merchandise volume] processed increased 43 percent as compared to that same period in 2014.”

Duvall said, based on this, “we expect this holiday shopping season to be the biggest in history.”

He said mobile devices are the driving force behind sales. He noted recent research that showed that more than 90 percent of consumers who conducted a product on a smartphone made a purchase within 24 hours. “But it goes further than research,” Duvall explained. “People are increasingly making more in-context purchases at the point of research. As such, retailers need to optimize their online stores for mobile in order to better capture the consumer in this moment and drive instant conversion. New technologies like Apple Pay for web will likely play a key factor in improving mobile conversion for many retailers this holiday season.”

Duvall said data from his firm for last year revealed an 116 percent increase in mobile purchases year-over-year, compared to a 35 percent increase on desktops and a 31 percent increase in a physical store. “This narrative aligns with ongoing industry assumptions about the proliferation of mobile commerce,” Duvall said. “In fact, mobile commerce sales are expected to reach more than $123 billion in 2016, a 39 percent increase over 2015 and more than double the growth from 2014. It’s expected to account for nearly one-third of all retail e-commerce sales for the year.”

The data reveals trends that shouldn’t be surprising, Duvall said noted that it aligns with a consumer desire to “purchase whenever, wherever they want” — but has experienced low adoption “due to poor or inconsistent mobile experiences.”

“Now, as more retailers think mobile first, and create responsive, mobile-friendly and easy-to-navigate online stores that enable simpler purchase paths through integrations with companies like Apple, Amazon or PayPal, the barriers to mobile purchase are rapidly being eliminated,” Duvall said.

In regard to conversions, Duvall said shopping car abandonment rates remain high at about 68 percent — “proving that retailers still have to expend considerable effort to convert shoppers into buyers.” Duvall said Millennials in particular “intentionally abandon carts to see if retailers will subsequently e-mail them an offer in an effort to save the sale.”

“As a result, retailers have had to rethink their ‘win-back’ strategies for e-mail campaigns,” he said, adding that checkout processes remain challenging and can sour a consumer’s online shopping experience.

“Across our customer base, we’re seeing merchants employing a number of strategies to make purchasing as frictionless as possible,” Duvall said. “These include reducing the number of clicks or form fields required to checkout, integrating ‘one-touch’ payment options through PayPal and Apple Pay and enabling customers to checkout natively on third-party channels like Facebook and Pinterest.”