Last week represented the first time in history that more people used mobile phones and tablets to visit online stores than using computers. Looking at data from over 100,000 ecommerce stores that use the Shopify platform, we saw 50.3% of traffic coming from mobile (40.3% from mobile phones, 10% from tablets) and just 49.7% from computers.
We have been watching and talking about the mobile commerce trend for years, but now there’s no disputing it: mobile commerce is now the default way that people shop online.
The rise in mobile phone traffic to online stores is partly being fuelled by the overall trend of social-fuelled discovery becoming a major marketing channel. For example, while Facebook accounted for less than 5% of traffic to ecommerce sites on desktop, that number jumps to 7% when looking at mobile phones. In comparison, search based traffic from Google represented 18% of traffic from computers, but just 12% on mobile phones. This data seems to show that computers are being used to search for more commodity-type goods, while social media and mobile are used for more spontaneous, discovery-based purchases.
The rise in mobile shopping also brings about another fascinating trend, what we’re calling “always-on shopping”. Computer-based traffic to ecommerce sites traditionally peaked between Monday and Friday and trailed off during the weekend. Mobile traffic has somewhat opposite behaviour since shoppers use their phones most during the weekends. So when you combine mobile, tablet and computer traffic to ecommerce sites, you no longer find any discernable spikes when people are shopping online. In other words, shopping is no longer something people go and do anymore; it’s something they are always doing.
How Shopify pivoted to being mobile first
A few years ago we began tracking the rise of mobile shopping and drastically changed how we operate at Shopify. We acquired a mobile development company, released two major iOS applications (Shopify Mobile and Shopify POS), released a mobile phone optimized checkout and overhauled our storefront themes to be responsive. This September we will be launching a new fully-responsive checkout, more free responsive themes and the beta version of Shopify Mobile for Android.
We also began to work closely with major mobile operating system providers to try to address a current shortcoming of mobile: conversion rate. While the majority of online store traffic now comes from mobile, the majority of purchases still happen using computers. This is because entering your credit card details and personal information on a small screen still causes a lot of friction. We believe this is a very solvable issue.
Similarly we also began to work closely with major social networks to bolster the trend of discovery-based shopping on mobile phones and tablets. We believe social is soon going to be a major traffic driver and the largest marketing opportunity for small to medium sized businesses that want to sell their products online.
Despite mobile commerce’s insanely rapid adoption, I believe we’re still in its infancy. And I’m looking forward to Shopify playing a big part in its future.