5 reasons your customers aren't buying on mobile

By: Michelle McSweeney

If there was any doubt about the role of mobile in ecommerce, Cyber Monday 2017 certainly settled the matter, making history as the first $2 billion mobile shopping day ever in the US.  And if you think that’s impressive, get this – 90% of online shopping that took place in China on Singles Day was through mobile devices. The total amount of gross sales made in one day? $25 billion.

Yet, in spite of this huge opportunity for ecommerce brands to drive significant revenue through mobile, there is still a major gap that exists between desktop and mobile conversions. Chances are that your website is mobile responsive. Great. You might be seeing relatively high traffic to your website from mobile devices. Even better. But, your mobile conversion rate may still be poor. How can that be?

Sure, the statistics say that although mobile claimed more web sessions than desktop in 2017 (52% mobile versus 36% desktop and 12% tablet), desktop still generates 61% of online revenue. But that doesn’t mean that brands should hang up their hats and accept that their e-shops will only be visited on mobile for ‘research’ purposes.

In reality, there are likely some simple reasons as to why customers aren’t buying your products through mobile. This article explains those.

1: Your pop-ups are affecting your SEO ranking

Laptop on desk

First things first - let’s not tar all pop ups with the same brush. In fact, pop ups on your website can be a hugely successful way to gather valuable data and gain subscribers that you can then build effective marketing campaigns off the back of – in fact, some of the most highly performing pop ups have an average conversion rate of 9.28%. But (and it’s a big but), if you want to increase mobile conversions on your site, you have to use pop ups wisely.

Since January 2017, Google has been devaluing the ranking of mobile sites that include ‘intrusive’ pop ups, specifically interstitials. So if content is less accessible for the mobile user, Google simply isn’t having it. The most common examples of intrusive interstitial popups are:

  1. When the main content on your website is covered by a pop up, either immediately after the user visits the page from Google search results, or while they are browsing your site.
  2. When a user has to dismiss a pop up in order to be able to access the main content on your website.
  3. When original content has been inlined below the fold, and the layout above the fold mirrors that of a standalone interstitial pop up.

Long story short, intrusive pop ups have a significant impact on how your mobile site is ranking in search results. And if users can’t even find your website on their mobile, how can you expect them to buy your products on their mobile?

Instead of using interstitial pop ups that could be considered ‘intrusive’, try out in-text hyperlinks that redirect to specific landing pages, or contextualised CTAs that blend in with the rest of the content contained on your webpages.

2: Your checkout process is too complicated

Retail checkout

We couldn’t possible talk about mobile conversions without looking at the checkout process. Hot on the heels of shipping fees the second and third most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment in 2017 were ‘The site wanted me to create an account’ (37%), and ‘Too long/complicated checkout process’ (28%). The same study by Baynard showed that the average large-sized ecommerce site can gain a 35.26% increase in conversion rate if the checkout process and design is properly optimised.

Frictionless checkout is equally important when it comes to desktop and mobile, but the user experience for mobile needs to be looked at from a completely different angle from that of desktop. We’re talking about the difference between designing for the thumb and designing for the mouse here. Here are some elements of the checkout process that you can easily change to get some quick wins for your online retail mobile conversion rate:

  • Add a progress bar to your checkout so users can see how close to the end of the process they are.
  • Position ‘Guest Checkout’ as the first option that appears on the checkout page.
  • Disable auto-correct to ensure that the form-filling experience is smooth for the user.
  • Make sure that auto-fill and auto-completion is enabled for the following fields: First Name, Last Name, Address, Email Address, Phone Number, and Credit Card.
  • Offer an express checkout options to users wherever possible (e.g. PayPal Express)

3: Your images are frustrating for users

40% of mobile sites don’t support pinch or tap gestures for product images. If users can’t take a closer look at the products that they’re interested in, chances are they’re not going to purchase them.

Furthermore, if a user actually does have the option to zoom a product image but is then greeted by a pixelated cluster of dots rather than a high-resolution for a detailed view, you run the risk of not only losing sales, but also compromising your brand credibility.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to product images is that bigger is better – in a study by Forbes, 50% of online shoppers said that having large, high quality product images influence their buying decision more than product descriptions, or reviews.  

Auto-rotation of images also doesn’t bode well for the mobile user. Why? Because they don’t stick around long enough for new slides to appear, and often end up tapping a CTA that they never intended to. Therefore it’s best to keep any rotating images static on your mobile site.

4: Your mobile site is too slow

Woman with mobile phone

Time is money, people. In fact, 40% of mobile users will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. And if that wasn’t enough to make you think about the need for speed, Google announced in its ‘Speed Update’ in January 2018 that mobile site speed is now being as a ranking factor in mobile search results.

The statistics speak volumes – as a page load time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds, the probability of bounce increases to a jaw-dropping 90%.

So ultimately, it really doesn’t matter if you have the best value product on the market, or if you’re running a buy one get one free promotional campaign with free shipping thrown in for good measure. If the speed of your mobile site doesn’t cut the mustard, you can probably hazard a guess as to why your mobile conversions are few and far between.

5: You’re not doing enough reporting

Computer with reporting statistics

Do you know the exact point at which most mobile users are bouncing from your website? Is it at checkout? Is it on the home page? Do you know how long visitors are spending on your site? In order to truly optimise the user experience for mobile in a bid to increase your conversion rates, you really have to dig into the data to understand the full customer journey and where your site is falling short from a mobile perspective.

For example, you notice a trend whereby mobile users are spending a significant amount of time on your website – they’re putting items in their shopping cart, they’re removing some items, and they’re going through the checkout process. Then suddenly, they bound off the site at the final stage.

That’s a completely different story than if you were to discover that the majority of users simply visit one or two pages of your online retail site before bouncing.

The first instance might signal to you that your shipping costs could be affecting your conversion rate, or that your checkout process could be frustrating for the user, whereas the latter scenario could mean that you really need to take a closer look at navigation, or CTAs, or overall UX for that matter.

Having the right reporting tools and analytics at your fingertips allows you to zero in on the key conversion drivers for mobile (and desktop too, for that matter). Because once you know and understand the blockers that exist in the customer journey, you can take actionable steps to focus on the channels that are working, as well as not working to ultimately drive more conversions.


Mobile can be a critical game changer for driving sales, and ecommerce brands have a huge opportunity to make their mark on mobile and drastically increase conversions. By assessing how your mobile website is performing and introducing some of these changes, you’ll ultimately be positioning your brand as a real contender for the next record-breaking online sales event.


Michelle McSweeney, Content Marketing Specialist - Kooomo

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