The state of mobile ecommerce

The state of mobile ecommerce

We all know that mobile optimisation is important for any online activity, especially in ecommerce. Year on year, mobile ecommerce has grown and this year it’s set to rise to being responsible for 44% of ecommerce revenue

While the pressure to develop better mobile shopping experiences has been put on ecommerce brands, there are still fundamentals missing from the majority of mobile commerce sites.  

Varying from brand to brand, usually you’d expect to see well over half of user traffic coming from a mobile device. While the growth of m-commerce is rapidly on the incline, it still doesn’t match up with the traffic from mobile devices. 

In fact, you’d expect to see a much lower conversion rate from mobile browsers than from desktop based sessions. In this article we’re going to look at why ecommerce for mobile users is failing and what you can do to improve your mobile store. 

What's wrong with mobile ecommerce?

With the obvious deficit in conversion rates in mobile vs desktop, there are clearly consistent errors that need to be addressed. When doing any kind of CRO exercises, it’s good practise to analyse common pain points that a user may encounter when using a mobile device. 


By far, trust is one of the most important elements to an online store. Without trust your users will likely abandon their shopping carts on both mobile and desktop. Ensuring you have clear and obvious trust signals throughout the site is an important factor to improving your conversion rates. 

While a lot of merchants may get this right on their desktop experience, often it’s neglected on the mobile design. This is usually due to prioritising various design elements for a smaller screen. 

Of course, it’s important that call-to-actions and content is accessible as early on in the mobile user journey. But the design of the site should also tie in trust signals that are just as obvious on mobile phones. 


Reviews from real customers can help swing a purchasing decision. Reviews offer impartial advice to the user, this is especially true if you’re using a branded review platform that the user recognises.  

In ecommerce you’re unable to convey what the product feels like unlike in a brick and mortar store where the user can experience it for themselves. Being able to experience the product via a review can help improve the user experience. 

By neglecting or not putting a focus on the reviews on your mobile product pages, you’re potentially harming your conversion rates. By moving the review section on your product page to be more obvious, you’ll encourage more customers to write reviews too; creating a powerful feedback loop. 

User Generated Content (UGC) 

As social animals, we can’t help but love social proof. Social proof is a physiological response that can influence our own decisions based on the decisions of our social circles. 

User generated content is a form of social proof and therefore can be very powerful in ecommerce. UGC is often not optimised to work as well on mobile and it’s rarely a main feature of the mobile site. 

By utilising UGC in product pages and across landing pages on the mobile design, you’re naturally increasing the trust signals of the site. This can, in turn, lead to much higher conversion rates. If you improve the usability of UGC blocks, you’ll get the user to the product quicker too, improving their overall user journey. 

Contact & Communication

Having clear contact information is a must in ecommerce. Without obvious contact information available, the user is likely to not trust the site, and rightly so. In a world where anyone can set up a website and take payments, it’s always comforting to the end user when there is genuine contact information. 

Making FAQs and communication channels available to mobile shoppers can help improve the conversion rates and average order values. Utilising live chat on your mobile site will help you get the information the user needs to them in a timely manner. 

Proposition Drivers

Proposition drivers sit on the site and give an overview of your brands selling points. These are unique to each brand and used throughout the user journey to help stand out amongst their competitors. While it’s common practise to use these throughout the desktop experience, it’s often neglected on mobile. 

Mobile websites have lots of information that need to be displayed in a smaller viewport than a desktop one. One of the first elements to be removed or have less focus on is the proposition drivers. Priorities are usually taken over by CTAs and content. While this is important for users to make a seamless checkout, without the proposition drivers, the user is missing out on key decision-making information. 


Speed is obviously important to any website, but especially for ecommerce. A slow ecommerce site causes huge problems in every part of the sales funnel; from lead generation to conversion rates. The issue of a slow site is magnified when you look at the effect it has on a mobile device. 

Smartphone users are often relying on 3g or 4g for their internet connection. Often much slower traditional internet connections, these wireless networks can cause issues for users wanting to shop online. 

5g is due to be launched nationwide in the near future, but until that happens, the only way to combat slow internet connections is to improve the speed and accessibility of your site. Certain elements of an ecommerce store are often not optimised for speed or mobile. 


Mobile devices have a limited viewport size, so loading the same size images that you would for desktop on a mobile device will hinder your loading speed. Resizing the images so you’re not loading unnecessary pixels will help improve the speed of your site, especially if you do this on all the images on your site. 

Most images contain EXIF data, across your site, this can slow the speed of your site. It’s always a good exercise to remove this data before uploading images to your store. You should also compress images as much as possible without losing any quality.


The code that makes up your Shopify store will likely require some form of optimisation every now and then. While compressing the code makes very little difference by itself, combined with an optimisation strategy where the code may need re-writing, it can have a profound effect on the speed. 

Some Shopify apps will leave behind traces of code, even after they’ve been uninstalled. Over time this can cause a lag in the page speed. Having a professional developer audit the code and remove anything unnecessary can give a new lease of life to your site.


Improving the user experience and user journey is absolutely paramount to improving the conversion rate on a mobile device. A bad user experience will leave online shoppers feeling frustrated and cause unnecessarily high bounce rates. 

Of course, making your site responsive for devices is a given, but optimising that can make a huge difference to your conversion rate. 


Having hundreds or even thousands of products can prove troublesome on a mobile device. Being able to intelligently make your collections accessible without hindering the user journey requires a creative approach. 

One way to optimise this part of the user journey is to streamline how many collections you have and build out better collection pages. 


Because navigation can extend the user journey, users will often opt to use the onsite search instead. Making the search a prominent feature in the mobile UX can lead to much better conversion metrics. Optimising the search to provide intelligent results will help improve the user journey and also allow you to perform visual merchandising exercises. 


Because space is much more of a commodity on the mobile design, making sure the right upsell and cross sell products are available is important. Adding personalisation to your site will help you show the right product to the right customer at the right time. Improving not only conversion rates, but also average order values. 

Upstream Marketing 

Often overlooked, upstream marketing allows your customers to see the benefits of the customer experience before they’ve purchased. Similar to proposition drivers, upstream marketing can help improve conversion values and average orders. If you offer deferred or split payments, don’t wait until the checkout to advertise it. Instead, shout about it throughout the entire user journey. 

Payment Gateways

Payment gateways on mobile devices can be clunky and can be a leading cause of abandoned carts. Opting for a better mobile gateway experience may improve your conversions and revenue. 

Shopify and Shopify Plus now support accelerated checkouts on mobile. This gives the user the ability to purchase from the product page using their Google Pay or Apple Pay wallet. This can massively improve the user journey and shorten checkout times, which in turn, will improve conversion rates. 


The Halo Effect

Qubit did a study of 1.2 billion user journeys to determine the reasoning behind low mobile conversion rates. This study found that while the conversion rates on mobile were low, discovery on mobile was high. On average 19% of desktop transactions started as a mobile discovery. In some industries, this rose to as much as 24%. 

This kind of statistic is important because it allows us to understand more about how the general consumer feels about mobile ecommerce. The state of mobile and the reasonings behind low conversion rates boil down to: 

  1. The user doesn’t trust mobile.
  2. The UX on mobile isn’t good enough. 

The lack of trust in mobile is real and is a leading reason why most mobile conversion rates are low. Optimising the mobile site to include better trust signals is paramount to a successful mobile ecommerce store. 

While mobile ecommerce is taking big steps as a whole to improve UX, it’s still not as good as the desktop, in general. Investing in proper UX exercises, A/B testing new designs and measuring the results will improve conversions across mobile devices. 

The Future of Mobile ecommerce

Year on year, mobile ecommerce is growing and with growth comes innovation. We’ll likely see more tech companies investing heavily into their mobile experiences and optimising mobile user journeys. 


Being able to serve a seamless experience across different platforms online and offline helps businesses retain customers. We’ll likely see bigger ecommerce merchants investing in full omnichannel strategies, that will inevitably affect the way that mobile ecommerce works. 

Whether that’s being able to redeem online loyalty points in a brick and mortar store via the customers mobile phone or something more complex. Omnichannel will affect the way that we see mobile ecommerce in the near future.  


AR is the perfect solution for mobile ecommerce shoppers. It allows them to visualise what having the product in their environment will look like as well as be able to look at the product in more detail. With big named brands already taking to native browser AR in their mobile ecommerce stores, it won’t be long until the feature becomes standard across all ecommerce brands. 

Shopify announced in 2019 their native Shopify AR feature. While it’s only available to users on iOS12 at the moment, we can predict that AR will soon be available to all the major browsing platforms. 

At Underwaterpistol we’re constantly researching and developing cutting edge processes & technologies to drive a better mobile experience. Get in touch now for more information.