Key Takeaways from Criteo’s State of Mobile Commerce

Confession time. Despite living and breathing online marketing and e-commerce, I never really shop online. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of it, it’s more that (a) I rarely shop, (b) I don’t really like shopping and (c) I don’t really know my own address. However, I recently decided to try out m-commerce in a few different sectors and was quite surprised by how convenient is. To me, tackling m-commerce has always been one of those typical important-but-not-urgent problems, but my recent experiences and the publishing of Criteo’s new State of Mobile Commerce report forced me to give it some thought. Here’s the most important stuff:

#1: The ‘only iOS matters’ approach is dangerous

Whether I’m speaking to fellow marketers or app developers, the old myth of iPhones and iPads driving the bulk of all mobile conversions is still predominant. While there is some truth to this, it’s worth noting that the Southeast Asian mobile device landscape is shifting in many ways that will, and are, challenging this assumption:

  • Android devices are getting better as a whole, resulting in easier mobile shopping and wider adoption among wealthier, more demanding consumers.
  • The total amount of mobile devices increasing rapidly, with most new consumers in Southeast Asia joining via mid-tier large-screen Android smartphones.

While Criteo’s report uses mainly US data, the fifth slide adds another fresh perspective to this. As it appears, the conversion rates of Android devices are, if not higher, then on par with iOS devices:

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.16.53 pm
Slide 5. See Slide 15 for additional information.

Add to that the fact that developed Asian markets like South Korea and Japan boast world-wide record Android adoption rates, and it’s safe to assume that focusing on iOS just won’t cut it anymore. Do as my app entrepreneur friend and switch the high-end smartphone out with an Android phone so slow and crappy that you’ll optimise the hell out of your product without even thinking about it. I think it’s a Xiaomi.

#2: The era of 50%+ mobile conversions is near

It is coming, the only question is how soon. On a website-by-website level this comes down to the impact of the two fundamental drivers of this trend; existing online shoppers moving from desktop to mobile and new online shoppers entering the marketing arena through their first smartphones. Mass-market apparel will experience this tipping point before luxury apparel and so on. But it’s coming, and that’s going to change the way online companies approach nearly every business decision. Here’s a few:

  • As the general rule, mobile sites are currently technically and UX-wise inferior to the full desktop versions. As we surpass 50% mobile conversions, how will we reflect that in the way that e-commerce products are produced? Will we code from tablets and serve our m-sites to desktop users?
  • While big data and multi-channel attribution are buzz words with merit, most online companies are still struggling with the fundamental across-digital-channels-for-one-device tracking. As the multi-device journey becomes the new status quo, how will that affect Business Intelligence decisions (and budgets)?
  • Most online marketing is made for desktops and sort-of-okay on mobile devices. As we move towards a mobile-first landscape, how will that change channels like Email marketing, Display advertising and Content marketing?

Although the above concerns might sound very, er, concerned, there’s also a lot of reasons to be optimistic. Although developed country Asia and emerging market Asia are two completely different things, the following slide speaks for itself:

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.40.16 pm
Slide 19. For Japan data see Slide 29, for South Korea data see slide 31.

It’s hard to say if the above data is skewed by large regional differences in conversion rates for all e-commerce, but the slide provides some good alternative explanations (see the text).

#3: These changes won’t happen without your hard work

In a lot of the large, quantitative studies like the one I am referencing in this post, market and landscape shifts are worded almost as if they are going to happen solely because consumers suddenly decide to change behaviour collectively. While consumer-side variables like mobile user experience definitely play into these market changes, the true winners will be the online companies that start this trend by taking mobile seriously and innovating.

By taking a quick look at the handful of e-commerce website I have Google Analytics access to, it quickly becomes clear that year-on-year mobile commerce growth rates vary wildly from high double-digit percentages to negative growth. While sector innovation speed (see the slide below) definitely count as an important factor in this, it’s also safe to assume that more mobile traffic and revenue comes to the ones who truly embrace that platform, both on the product side and the marketing side.

Slide 6. For mobile/tablet share breakdown see Slide 11.
Slide 6. For mobile/tablet share breakdown see Slide 11.

In summary, it’s safe to say that mobile commerce will continue to dominate e-commerce in the coming years. While the consumer adoption rates depend on sector, device type and region, the numbers are only going one way. The myriad of decisions that follow that technological wake-up call are too diverse to touch upon in this blog post, but there is no doubt that they’re worth your time and effort to really think through.

Download the report here: Criteo State of Mobile Commerce

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