The Speed of the Mobile Purchase

by Chuck Martin on May 23, 2013

By Chuck Martin

In a study that came out this week, researchers noted the difference in time spent making a purchase by mobile devices compared to by desktops.

It turns out that the mobile purchase processes took about half the time.

The study, by IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark, looked at shopping behavior around Mother’s Day. As you might expect, mobile shopping traffic increased 43% from a year ago, comprising a quarter of the holiday online sales.

What struck me was the difference in time spent based on device. Desktop users took more than six minutes per purchase while mobile consumers shopped and bought in three-and-a-half minutes.

I have to wonder if this is because retailers are getting better at packaging and selling through mobile devices or if consumers are getting savvier about how to do it. Likely, it’s a bit of both.

The average order size over the holiday was around $200, so it does matter to retailers how they approach mobile selling. To further the point, mobile accounted for almost half of online jewelry sales, as one indicator that mobile shoppers are parting with more than nickels and dimes.

Consumers and retailers have been in a chicken-and-egg situation for a while, with many consumers pushing the envelope ahead of retailers, some of whom are playing catch-up.

But back to the issue of speed of mobile buying. It’s a bit difficult to know how much product research was done before the actual shop and purchase, since mobile consumers are really shopping all the time. Mobile shopping behavior can be in bite-sized moments and just seconds at a time.

We know from other studies that consumers do, in fact, research intended purchases on mobile devices, and this study provides a bit of evidence that some relatively quick actions, if not decisions, are made during the mobile purchasing process.

This piece of research shows that marketers have very little time to influence the mobile purchase decision near the actual buying time. Certainly fewer than three-and-a-half minutes.

 Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker around the world. 

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