Are Merchants Ready for the Mobile Commerce Revolution?

by Monica Eaton-Cardone on Apr 1, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce

Are_Merchants_Ready_for_the_Mobile_Commerce_Revolution-494294-edited.jpgWhile home computers have always maintained the upper hand when it comes to online shopping, mobile devices are quickly overtaking them as the dominant ecommerce platform.

According to figures released last month by IMRG, mobile sales accounted for 51 percent of all UK online sales during the 2015 holiday season. As mobile’s domination of ecommerce becomes increasingly solidified, merchants need to be sure they’re doing all that they can to stay ahead of the curve.

The Current Mobile Commerce Market

Q4 2015 saw mobile overtake home computers for the first time, with desktops and laptops accounting for 49 percent of sales, while tablets represented 33 percent. Smartphones lagged behind with just 18 percent of sales, but that is changing quickly.

As explained in the report, the number of smartphone sales during that period nearly doubled over the previous year, growing at a rate seven times that of tablets. What this suggests is that, while tablet sales may be leveling off, smartphones will continue to grow dramatically and capture more and more of the market, likely becoming the preferred shopping device before long.

The same trend is present in most parts of the world as well. For example, U.S.-based retailer Walmart reports that over 70 percent of its site’s traffic comes via mobile devices, and half of the company’s sales in the last week of November were mobile. Amazon saw similar figures, with about 70 percent of its customers using mobile devices.

Despite this, some merchants continue to take a dismissive attitude toward mobile ecommerce. A study conducted back in November suggested that 1 in 5 merchants didn’t even believe measuring mobile sales was important.

Now, more than ever, it’s essential for merchants to not just embrace mobile, but to do so wisely.

Poor Mobile Optimization Kills Conversion

There may be some anxiety about mobile technology among merchants, owing to the platform’s famously high rate of shopping cart abandonment (still well above 90 percent). However, that anxiety and refusal to embrace the platform is what’s largely responsible for mobile’s atrocious conversion rates.

Some of the most common reasons why mobile shopping carts are abandoned include:

  • The website, shopping cart, or checkout process is awkward or difficult to navigate using a mobile device.
  • Checkout is not seamless—order details are not saved if the customer has to leave the page.
  • The process takes too long—mobile users are often on-the-go or in a hurry.

In order to turn those conversion rates around, merchants need to come to terms with mobile’s growing role in ecommerce. By continuing to ignore the problem, it will only keep getting worse as mobile shopping becomes increasingly dominant.

Reducing shopping cart abandonment is largely a matter of reducing friction. For merchants who experience overwhelmingly high rates of cart abandonment with mobile shoppers, these quick tips could work wonders:

  • Make your payment form quick and easy, with as few required fields as is necessary to guarantee security.
  • Auto-populate fields whenever possible.
  • Don’t force shoppers to create an account, as it creates extra barriers between yourself and your customers. Instead, try and capture emails early in the checkout process, then send an email later to try and recover the sale.
  • Simply ask for the ZIP code, then auto-populate the city and state.
  • Design fields and buttons that are big enough to accommodate “fat fingers.”

Mobile Technology and Fraud

When it comes to making fraudulent purchases, fraudsters will naturally gravitate toward the path of least resistance. Card-not-present fraud, especially since the EMV liability shift took hold in the U.S. last October, is now much easier to perpetrate than card-present fraud.

Every dollar in fraudulent transactions ultimately costs merchants $3.34 due to fees, lost merchandise and revenue. With mobile on the rise, merchants who do not give any thought to fraud stemming from mobile technology are putting themselves at serious risk.

Friendly fraud, in particular, is a risk factor for mobile devices. For example, consider how often kids are able to access their parents’ phones or tablets. If a parent has payment information saved on his or her device, kids can easily make unauthorized purchases, for which the parent will probably later request a chargeback.

Customers will also often shop using public WiFi networks, leaving them more vulnerable to fraudsters looking to intercept cardholder information.

With all of these various, very real fraud risks, merchants need to be diligent about putting measures in place to deter criminal fraud, as well as differentiating between criminal and friendly fraud.

Balancing Mobile Risks and Rewards

Merchants need to understand that mobile shopping is no longer something they can simply ignore or treat as a niche element of the ecommerce environment. Sellers would be foolish to allow all of those potential customers to slip through the cracks as a result of poor website optimization.

At the same time, capitalizing on the rising tide of mobile shopping will require careful, responsible risk management, or else merchants can expect an m-commerce fraud nightmare.

Mobile technology is not going anywhere, so merchants will have no choice but to adapt to the times.

Photo by patrisyu/

Monica Eaton-Cardone is co-founder and COO of

Monica Eaton-Cardone's blog
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The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.