2016 was the first year that Facebook saw more mobile conversions than desktop conversions for the entire Holiday Season.1 The upswing in m-commerce started on Black Friday, with the mobile portion of online transactions growing by 55% year over year. And it continued throughout the Holidays, with mobile making up 51% of total online transactions—more than a 10 percentage point increase compared to what we saw during the 2015 Holidays.2
What does this mean for marketers now and in preparation for the year ahead? In short, when it comes to shopping, the thumb is in charge, and it’s up to marketers to move at a mobile minute to keep up with where people are.
The thumb is in charge, and it wants to shop
Our smartphones are with us at all times—during our commutes, in the check-out aisle, on the couch during commercial breaks—and increasingly, we are turning to them to research products and services, compare prices, check availability and get information while in-store. It’s where we discover new things, follow brands and are exposed to ads.
Thanks to mobile, “I’m going shopping” has evolved to “I’m always shopping.” 38% of retail shoppers say they wish they could do even more shopping on their smartphone than they already do.3
Mobile conversions grow when people are off the clock4
Facebook data shows that mobile conversions rise and desktop conversions fall when people are on the go. At a time when many people are commuting (between the hours of 4–6pm), mobile conversions begin growing and peak around 8–9pm, perhaps when people are watching TV. By contrast, desktop conversions peak around 10–11am, when people are likely to be in front of their computers.
Time seems to move faster on mobile
It’s not just people’s consumption and shopping habits that change when they pick up their smartphone. According to a recent Facebook IQ study, people’s perception of time changes, too.
We showed participants two videos with different subject matter (one neutral and one entertaining) on a desktop computer or on a smartphone.5 We then asked the participants to tell us how long they thought the videos were. People who viewed the videos on a smartphone estimated them to be 30% shorter in length than the desktop viewers did, even though the videos shown on each screen were equal in length.
What that tells us is, regardless of whether content is informational or humorous, people perceive time to move faster on their smartphones.
We also shop faster on mobile.
Shoppers who saw a retail or ecommerce ad on Facebook mobile and then converted on mobile took 1.08 fewer days to convert than those who saw the same type of Facebook ad on desktop and then converted on desktop. In effect, mobile-to-mobile conversions were 13% faster than desktop-to-desktop. This trend holds true for mobile-to-desktop conversions, as well.6
In another study, we found that, on average, people browse fewer products on their smartphone than on a desktop before making a purchase. When shopping for themselves or for a friend, our study’s participants browsed 24 products on a smartphone. On desktop, they browsed 29 products.7
Efficiency is the new competitive advantage
The very device that has made us more patient while waiting at the check-out aisle and in the doctor’s office has also made us impatient when our experience doesn’t match expectations for speed, ease and convenience. Case in point: almost 40% of mobile website visitors abandon a site at three seconds of delay in loading.8
In this age of impatience, it’s human nature to look for shortcuts. We’ve learned that people are doing just that to address friction points along their mobile shopping journeys. For example, 65% of people surveyed say they use retail aggregators to research and shop on their smartphones, perhaps as a workaround on the smaller screen.9 The top three reasons people say they rely on retail aggregators relate to the ease of purchase and the ability to compare prices and access multiple brands at once.9
90% of people we’ve identified as frequent mobile shoppers* say a smooth check-out experience will motivate them to buy again with the same provider.3 Simply saving payment information is quickly being supplanted by a desire for one-click buying or express check-out. Reducing the length of a transaction can pay dividends.
What it means for marketers
Know the journey: People are turning to their smartphones more than to any other device, opening up new opportunities to capture their attention, be it on the go or on the couch. It’s time to get comfortable with playing with different types of content to reach and engage people on mobile.
Design for the thumb: Time flies on mobile, and so do people. Think of time as the new success metric, as saving people even a second of time can be a competitive advantage.
When designing for the thumb, build content that is not only engaging but also addresses people’s need for speed and convenience.
Experiment with the experience: Creating micro-efficiencies for people is essential—and not just on mobile. This extends to products, merchandising and the in-store experience. With more savvy shoppers using their smartphones in-store, consider experimenting with how you blend online and offline experiences.
* A frequent mobile shopper is defined as someone who made six or more purchases in the preceding three months and also made their last purchase using only a mobile device.
1 Facebook data, US only, Dec 2016. Analysis of conversion pixel data and apps events data for ads that were shown to people ages 18+ on Facebook. The gaming vertical is excluded from this analysis.
2 Facebook data, US only, Nov 1–Dec 31, 2015 (Holiday Season 2015), and Nov 1–Dec 31, 2016 (Holiday Season 2016). Analysis of conversion pixel and apps events data for ads that were shown to people ages 18+ on Facebook. The gaming vertical is excluded from this analysis.
3 “Internet Shopping Behavior” by Qualtrics (Facebook-commissioned online study and opt-in panel of 3,231 people ages 18+ in the US who have researched online and bought 1 of 6 key categories in preceding last three months) conducted to quantify key differences in shopping behavior, Sep–Oct 2016.
4 Facebook data, US only, Jun 15, 2015–Jun 12, 2016. Analysis of conversion pixel data and apps events data for transactions in the Retail and Ecommerce verticals.
5 “Value of Time” by Jehan Sparks and Jeffrey Sherman (Facebook-commissioned study of 249 people ages 20–65 in the US), Nov 2016.
6 Facebook data, US only, Sep 1, 2016–Oct 6, 2016. Analysis of conversion pixel and app events data for ads that were shown to people ages 18+ on Facebook. The gaming vertical is excluded from this analysis.
7 “Marketplace Media Platform Comparison” by Neurons Inc (Facebook-commissioned study of 65 people ages 21–50 in the US), conducted to quantify key differences in shopping behavior across channels using EEG and eye-tracking and fielded Dec 12–19, 2016.
8 “The Very Real Costs of Bad Website Performance” by Aberdeen Group, Aug 2016.
9 Facebook data (based on survey of 1,261 randomly selected respondents ages 18+ in the US), Dec 5–8, 2016.