Mobile eCommerce Guide: Understanding the Mobile Consumer

Mobile eCommerce Guide: Understanding the Mobile Consumer


What if you were told that your mobile eCommerce store is more important than your desktop counterpart? Well as we look to the near future and analyze the numbers, believe it or not, it's true.

In 2014, we saw global web searches from mobile devices surpass desktops and more than half of all eCommerce traffic come from a smartphone or tablet. Indeed in 2015, Shopify reported that global sales from mobile devices reached forty-six per cent(46%) of all eCommerce transactions. And by 2019 U.S mobile retail sales are predicted to hit nearly $150 billion, nearly double that estimated in 2015.

With the mass adoption of smartphones and growing accessibility of data, we’re seeing the highest number of mobile web traffic and sales in history. This shift in consumer buying behavior is changing the way retailers look at the digital experiences that they’re offering their customers. It’s urging retailers to get online if they aren’t already and it’s pressuring eTailers to adapt their digital offerings to cater more towards the mobile consumer.

Unless something unexpected happens over the next 5 years, we’ll see global sales from mobile devices surpass desktop sales. Is your store ready for that paramount shift?

With this version of the future of eCommerce in mind, let's start a series of posts dedicated to optimizing mobile eCommerce websites and apps. Kicking things off with understanding the mobile consumer.

Understanding Your Current Mobile Customer

Start by taking a look at your analytics to uncover valuable insights into your own mobile consumer behavior. While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to slice and dice your data in Google Analytics (or similar tools), here are some foundational reports to help you start better understanding your mobile customers.


In Google Analytics, start by creating a unique segment for mobile traffic. Segments allow you to quickly isolate data. Google already has preconfigured segments set up for mobile, tablet, and desktop, combinations of both, and conversion traffic. Select the ones most pertinent to your business and hit the apply button.


From here you’ll be able to view your data with a side-by-side comparison of your new data segments.

Once your segments are set up, look at relevant reports (see examples below) to help build out your mobile customer buyer persona. Gain key insights into which customers are buying on mobile, who they are, where they’re coming from, what they’re buying, where they’re bouncing, and what devices they’re using. 

Open the Demographics > Age report. 


Now that you can easily see what age group is most popular among your mobile traffic, you’ll be able to better understand who’s coming to your mobile store and make more informed decisions around your mobile eCommerce design and user experience.

From here you can start to dissect even further and uncover areas of opportunity and improvement. For example, if millennials are the target demographic for your latest line of products, but you notice that 18-24 year olds is your highest traffic bracket, you should kick off an awareness campaign for millennials. Alternatively, you could think about bringing in more products geared towards 18-24 (your highest traffic age bracket) and look increase your sales.

Tip: You can also add another segment around conversion traffic. This will help you understand, at a glance, what percentage of your store’s traffic is mobile, what age group they’re in, and what age group converts at the highest rate on mobile. That can start as a your blueprint for improving your mobile digital experience.

Open the Demographics > Gender report.


Using the gender report can uncover interesting insights that lead to further investigations. In this particular example above, males account for seventy per cent (70%) of all traffic and have nearly double the amount of mobile visits. However, females are 2x more likely to convert on mobile.

Open Geo > Location report.


With geographic information, you’ll easily be able to analyze where you’re receiving the highest amount of mobile traffic and which countries are the highest converting on mobile. This can help you hyper-target your marketing campaigns and aid in future marketing budget allocation.

Open Interests > Affinity Categories report.


The affinity categories report can be super insightful when combined with the other aforementioned reports to help build out your buyer personas. If you gather that your most predominant group of mobile users are Male Technophiles aged 25-34, who live in the United States, that gives you a solid starting point for mapping out your buyer persona and targeting your digital advertising efforts.

With segmentation and the right reporting you can access endless information about your mobile customers, you’ll be able to easily access and analyze data that can help optimization your mobile experience, including reports like;

  • Number of smartphone and tablet visits
  • Number of mobile page visits
  • Average mobile visit duration
  • Average mobile page load time
  • Mobile vs. desktop bounce rate
  • Most popular mobile devices (ie. iPhone v.s Android, etc.)
  • Mobile organic keywords
  • Mobile conversion rate
  • Most popular screen resolutions

While analyzing your Google Analytics is a great place to start, there’s a multitude of other analytics and marketing tools available to the modern marketer today that can help you dig even deeper. Marketing Automation providers like Hubspot are bridging the gap between anonymous website visitors and actual prospects and paying customers. In addition, these tools are making marketing reporting and analyzing much more simple and automated for marketers and team leaders.

Being able to dig that extra bit deeper into consumer behavior is that much more important for understanding consumer behaviour. Marketing software enables you to looks beyond the foundational page views and visit duration metrics, and answers the tougher, more integrated questions. It allows you to dig deeper into data around which leads become sales, which channels leads are coming from, which efforts are producing the biggest ROI, tracking online and offline behavior, and incorporating all your other mobile marketing channels like, email and social media to gain a more holistic view of your mobile consumer.

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The Gender Gap

When you start to analyze mobile eCommerce traffic and consumer buying behavior it’s important to understand which gender is the driving force behind the growth. As you’ll see when you check out your analytics following the above steps, gender popularity is very industry-specific. So firstly, trust your customers. But it’s also important to look at the broader trends and eCommerce landscape.

Women are leading the charge for mobile eCommerce. In 2015, 2x more women made a purchase online using a mobile device than men.



The Age Gap

Millennials, ages 18-34, are the golden ticket of online shoppers. Spending nearly US$2,000 a year, the most online out of any other age group. Even though their incomes are less than older generations, they’re stilling spending more online.

An interesting point to note is that the generation X (Gen X), ages 35-44, spend just US$70 less a year than the leading millennials. Considering their high population rate and higher incomes, Gen X proves to be a promising target.

While millennials make up the majority of online shoppers, 1 in 4 mobile eCommerce shoppers in the US is over the age of 55. Proving that boomers and seniors are catching on to the mobile trend and proving to be another area of opportunity and growth for online retailers.

Understanding mobile consumer motivations


As defined by Google, mobile customer motivations fit into 4 categories; I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy. As they describe it “(...) these moments are becoming the new battleground for brands (...)”

It’s important to be there for your prospects and customers at all stages of the buying cycle. While there are a million different ways and uses for why people turn to their mobile devices, these four moments are a solid starting point for understanding your mobile consumers motivations and behaviours.

The “Know”: consumer wants information. They turn to their phone to find out things like store hours, store locations, product pricing, product info, etc. In fact, eighty-two per cent (82%) of people consult their phones on purchases that they’re about to make in store. If they don’t find you, they’ll find your competitors. Did you know that companies with an optimized mobile website are favoured by search engines and will show up higher in the search results? And it’s not just search engines that favor a good mobile website, forty per cent (40%) of users switched a competitor's website after enduring a poor mobile experience.

The “Go”: consumer is looking for a store right now. They use their phone to find out where to go for dinner, where to buy a new jacket, where to find a wedding photographer, or where to buy their favorite book. This is the moment when you get to become a part of their buying considerations. Eighty-two per cent (82%) of smartphone owners use their phone to search for a local business. If you don’t show up here, you’re out of the running.

The “Buy”: consumer is ready to pull the trigger. They’ve done their research and they’re ready to buy. They’ll be looking for how and where to do it. It’s your turn to help them out and provide them with the right buying experience. Fifty-seven per cent (57%) of users said that they wouldn’t recommend a business that has a poorly designed mobile website.

The “Do”: consumer wants to know how. Maybe they’ve made the purchase and want to know how use it or they’re simply wanting to complete a task and need help doing so. Or perhaps, they need a how-to video to finally finish building their new Ikea bed frame that their wife bought two years ago.

As you prepare for mobile eCommerce to surpass desktop, it’s important to get a handle on consumer buying behavior, motivations, and demographics. Better understanding the mobile consumer will help make your digital experiences delightful for your customers and prospects.

What other key insights about the mobile consumer have you found most helpful with your online store and marketing efforts? Share in the comments.

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