Report: Mobile Apps Rule In eCommerce Conversion Comparison

PC sales have steadily declined, smartphone engagement continues to climb, and emerging pockets of the digital population are coming online mobile-first. But at least desktops and laptops can take heart knowing they’re still the go-to destination for all big-ticket, well-considered eCommerce purchases.

Well, not quite, according to the ad tech specialists from Criteo. In their latest analysis of 1.7 billion eCommerce transactions processed by more than 3,300 global merchants, researchers have found retail markets around the world on the verge of a mobile tipping point.

Mobile Takes Over

The correlation between mobile innovation and commercial performance is becoming increasingly clear. The average U.S. retailer studied by Criteo now attributes 35% of its eCommerce conversions to mobile, while the the top-performing quartile of those companies attributes 52% to mobile. One year ago, the gap between those two figures was just 10 percentage points (30% vs. 40%).

This ongoing mobile transformation is even more pronounced abroad. Japan, United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands all have a higher average mobile retail share than the U.S., and a total of 10 countries attribute at least 25% of their retail eCommerce to mobile transactions.

Japan and the UK were the only countries from the Criteo sample in which retailers collectively generated more than 50% of eCommerce transactions via mobile. However, separate studies have suggested that Indian and Chinese retailers may be even more advanced in their mobile maturity.

Apps Beat Browsers

All mobile shopping experiences are not created equal, however. Criteo discovered a sharp contrast in commercial performance between mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites.

According to the study, product viewers are 3x more likely to convert in a mobile app than through a mobile website. What’s more, mobile apps convert 1.5x better than desktop retail sites.

Retail customers acquired through mobile apps can have an impressive lifetime value as well. New mobile app users are 2x more likely to return to retailers within 30 days than mobile web visitors — and they usually add more than clearance items to the carts when they do. Criteo found that the average order value on mobile retail apps was 33% higher than mobile sites and 21% higher than desktop sites.

Competition Remains Fierce

Retailers eager to develop and optimize mobile shopping apps have a clear business case to do so, but their success is far from guaranteed. Brands will have to compete for attention with not just industry rivals, but the broader app marketplace as well. Combine that with a climate in which 80% of new app users churn within three months, and the odds can feel downright discouraging.

We are, however, gaining perspective on a potential recipe for success. Product views per user and new user retention are emerging as the most indicative early metrics, according to Criteo. Personalized product recommendations, simplified checkout procedures, and loyalty rewards programs were flagged as the most influential features.

If and when retailers pursue these ambitious mobile initiatives, it’s also wise to surround their investments with a proactive app localization strategy. Uptake from international users could help retailers resolve performance plateaus, accelerate ROI timelines, or even dominate an emerging market. The Criteo research has certainly confirmed Europe’s appetite for mobile shopping, and all signs point to APAC becoming the world’s most lucrative eCommerce marketplace.    

Learn More

See how Smartling helps retailers shape superior app experiences by exploring our Mobile Product Brief.