Going Mobile - A Year Later
I just finished up a lunch meeting with our ad agency talking about some campaigns and design concepts. We were able to do the meeting on a couple of iPads tied into an iPhone hotspot. Pretty incredible progress in the last few years on the technology front if you think about it. Four people able to easily access websites and login to production tools on a $400 device with no keyboard in a restaurant with no WiFi.
It made me wonder about how our mobile traffic and revenue is growing over the past year or so in our online stores. You certainly can't go a day without some type of newsletter or email promotion about how you should optimize your website for mobile eCommerce, but it's not something that we've ever wanted to invest our precious cash in. Really, how many beaders (the market we serve) shop with their iPhone? Is it worth building and supporting a full eCommerce website for thousands of very, very tiny parts that you can barely see on a full size screen? An iPad really offers the same screen resolution as a laptop, so why do something special for it?
Look Back at May 2010
I blogged about Going Mobile in May of last year. At that time about 1% of our traffic was coming from mobile devices. Base on some real growth at that time, I projected that this year, 2-5% of our visits may be from mobile devices. The iPad was relatively new, and I noted that was the platform to watch as we were seeing just as many page views there as on standard laptop and desktop computers, though only a few visits per day. Revenue was very, very small from mobile devices at that time.
Jumping ahead to today, I was pretty good at my predictions. Year to date, approximately 4% of visits are from mobile devices. Overall, about 2.5% of our revenue is now "going mobile". The iPad accounts for about 79% of the revenue and has about 50% of the total visits. Page views and average order size on the iPad are almost identical to that of desktops and laptops. The conversion rate is a slightly lower on the iPad.
The iPhone has 25% of the traffic, but as I would expect, a much lower conversion rate and about 50% of the page views. But those shoppers who muddle through the small screen actually spend about the same amount per order.
Other mobile devices make of the rest of the traffic, but account for very little revenue.
All in all, we see about a 2,600% increase in traffic from mobile devices in 15 months. It would be a new product sales curve to die for!
Impacts and Conclusions
We simply don't have enough traffic originating from iPhones and similar mobile phones to warrant an investment in a mobile website. If we had one would we see more visits? Not sure, love to hear from someone who built one out, but it seems to me that we would see those visits anyway and a higher percentage would simply result in a bounce.
Would a shopping app make sense on an iPhone? If you could fund one as elegant as Amazon.com, it sure would, but short of that, I don't know. Once again, that would be a big investment for us with a fairly narrow target market we would have to reach with our app. Since we'd have to give it away, we'd have to fund the app from incremental revenue from the app. At this point, its tough to see an ROI in the black in that scenario.
The thing I do know is that he iPad growth is incredible. By all appearances, we do NOT need to do anything special on the iPad to be successful. Most shoppers in our stores seem to behave the same on that device as they do on their other computers. Hopefully, we can just sit back and see revenues continue to grow there with no need to do further development.
If you haven't done so already, GET RID OF FLASH ON YOUR WEBSITE. That will lead to bounces and drive people away from your store!
From an eCommerce point of view, It almost seems silly to bundle the iPad into "mobile" devices to me, but that's where tablets get to live. On the other hand, after doing a lunch meeting a iPads, I certainly think of it as a mobile device. It's one that I am very to have in my toolkit and at my lunch table for a business meeting, in an airplane, and at my kitchen table!