Checking out before the checkout – why are mobile shoppers abandoning their carts?

25th January 2018

Surprising new research released at the beginning of this month suggests that some mobile shoppers are still wary about using their smartphone or tablet to make purchases online.

Photo by Douglas Bagg on Unsplash

Photo by Douglas Bagg on Unsplash

Despite the push towards a ‘mobile first’ web, it has been reported that small screens give cause for concern as shoppers tend to worry that they are not ‘seeing the full picture’ on a mobile app – or that they could be losing out on special offers or missing hidden costs. So, whilst they are very happy to look things up or do research on mobile devices, they often abandon their virtual shopping cart and log on to a laptop or PC to complete their final purchases.

According to figures, mobile apps are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to shop online, but in spite of this the ‘abandoned cart’ phenomenon is much higher amongst mobile users than desktop-based online shoppers. Market research firm Criteo report that the amount of ecommerce traffic from mobile devices steadily increased to 46% of global ecommerce traffic – but only 27% of mobile purchases were actually completed – and the conversion rates for mobile shoppers were much lower than those made on laptop or PC.

Overcoming the challenges for mobile shoppers

Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis of the Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia has been investigating the ‘abandoned cart’ phenomenon and suggests that it presents a big challenge for online retailers in 2018. Because the web is geared towards ‘mobile first’ retailers have been investing heavily in mobile shopping apps and responsive websites but they are not yet feeling the benefits from sales conversion – as potential customers frequently quit before checking out:

“Our study results revealed a paradox: mobile shopping is supposed to make the process easier – and yet concerns about making the right choice, or about whether the site is secure enough lead to an emotional ambivalence about the transaction and that means customers are much more likely to simply abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase.”

The data used in the study came from online shopping data from 2016-2017 from consumers in Taiwan and the US. The research team investigating the phenomenon identified the key reasons for hesitation at the checkout stage were generally the same in both settings. They also found that shoppers were far more likely to use mobile apps to research products in their spare time as they prepare for a purchase, which may also go some way to explaining why they don’t always go through with the deal.

One factor that isn’t discussed in the findings is the very nature of the device. It is used on the go – and it is a constant source of interruption. This may also have a significant impact on conversion rates. Whilst attempting to shop or research products on the move, a mobile user is more likely to be interrupted during the process by various unpredictable environmental factors, along with interruptions from texts and calls – or loss of signal.

This information certainly provides retailers with fresh challenges if they want to find a way to secure those sales or indeed find out if they have been completed elsewhere by the same user. We’d be interested to know how you might tackle the issue – let us know in the comments section below!