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Exploring the Mobile Shopping Habits of US Consumers

The Mobile Series | Infographic

Are Consumers Transacting via Mobile?

This year, mobile commerce sales in the US will account for 39.6% of total retail ecommerce sales—reaching $208.1 billion.

By 2021, mcommerce will represent the majority of ecommerce spending.

This week, we're looking at mobile habits—how consumers shop, how they bank and other ways they transact via mobile. Yesterday, we looked at mobile coupons. Next up: mobile commerce. 

Which Mobile Device Do Consumers Lean on More?

Although sales made on smartphones continue to exceed those made on tablets, consumers are still converting at higher rates via tablets. Of the 185.5 million mobile users who browse, research or compare products on their smartphones this year, just over half (53.7%) end up buying there.

"While browsing and researching products on smartphones is very high, not all consumers are totally comfortable making a complete purchase yet," said eMarketer forecast analyst Cindy Liu.

But that behavior is changing. Smartphones now account for roughly three in every four mcommerce dollars, even though the overall number of buyers by platform is similar. That's thanks in large part to bigger screen sizes, more responsive mobile websites and apps, as well as streamlined mobile checkouts.

Mobile App or Mobile Web?

Retailers have long debated the relative value of these two touchpoints for driving their ecommerce business, wrote eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman in his Mobile Retail Apps in 2018 report.

"With search serving as the starting point for so many mobile shopping visits, retailers saw mobile web driving the lion’s share of their visits and understandably focused their energy there. With a different level of investment required, mobile apps often took a back seat," he said. "But ignoring mobile apps altogether is in most cases short-sighted, given the wide disparity between mobile app and mobile web usage."

Indeed, mobile apps are driving an increasingly significant portion of consumer shopping and buying behavior. Data from App Annie found that 150 million US shopping apps were downloaded in Q1 2018, an increase of 35% year over year.

Separate data conducted last year from Button and App Annie found that across various generations, US smartphone users prefer to shop via a mobile app than a mobile site—with millennials more inclined to feel this way than their older cohorts.