Just a few years ago, a talk by Dave Naylor at BrightonSEO discussed that while mobile was growing quickly, it had not broken into the ecommerce market. Last weekend this all changed – mobile has finally come of age.
Back in 2013, people used mobiles to find products and to read reviews, but very rarely would sales be completed. Electronic carts and payment systems were just too cumbersome for mobile purchases, so a majority of users would do their research on mobile from the comfort of their sofa or while on the daily commute, and then make the purchase once they had access to a desktop PC. This year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw a significant increase in the number of shopping cart checkouts completed on mobile devices.
There are three main reasons why we are finally seeing the shift to mobile for ecommerce. First, web developers are now putting mobile user experience (UX) first when it comes to building ecommerce sites, and the message is finally spreading that you can shop on mobile. Second, people are more mobile-aware; a few years ago many shoppers were still a little wary of using their mobile for retail purchases. Finally, desktop ownership is in decline – many people simply have no choice but to use their mobile phone or tablet to make a purchase.
In fact, talking of tablets, this is also another factor – tablet ownership has risen dramatically also, along with the screen size of mobile phones, which makes navigating around websites much easier.
This weekend highlighted another interesting change in user behaviour. First, overall it seems that footfall has fallen as more people are opting to shop online. Black Friday has become rather notorious, with reports of violence in some shops as bargain hunters literally fight over the best deals.
In America, for the first time it seems that more people shopped online over the Thanksgiving holiday than in-shop, with around 109 million online shoppers compared to 99 million hitting the stores (data: National Retail Federation survey).
This change is thought to also be partly due to the fact that many retailers are starting their sale periods earlier, and shoppers also know now that many of the deals on offer will remain until Christmas.
Not Just Shopping Cart Checkouts
However, mobile is not only having an impact on online purchases. While footfall is down overall, there has been an increase in “near me” searches. Media Post reported that online searches actually helped increase in-store visits by nearly two-thirds on Black Friday, as people searched Google for bargains that were near their location. While footfall was lower in many places compared to previous Black Fridays, Google reported that footfall was still 65% higher than on an average weekend day.
Shops know that even during the busiest shopping periods they need to find new ways to entice people into their stores. Using Google “near me” search optimisation will help deliver buying customers from the comfort of their sofas to the checkout desk. Location based search is still in its infancy, and following this news it is likely we’ll see more competition within this SEO niche over the next year.