UEA study finds shoppers are less likely to complete an online sale on a mobile or tablet

Shoppers worry they may miss out crucial things while shopping on their phone or tablet, a UEA study

Shoppers worry they may miss out crucial things while shopping on their phone or tablet, a UEA study has found. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shoppers hoping to bag a bargain online in the post-Christmas sales are far less likely to go through with their purchases if they are using phones or tablets, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) blame this phenomenon on consumers worrying they are not seeing the full picture on a mobile app, or that they could be missing out on special offers or overlooking hidden costs.

Concerns about privacy and security can also motivate people to leave their mobile shopping baskets at the checkout.

The researchers were investigating findings from market research firm Criteo, which showed the nearly half (46%) of all global e-commerce traffic was coming from mobile devices by the second quarter of 2016, but only 27% of purchases initiated on this channel were finalized and conversion rates significantly lagged behind desktop-initiated purchases.

This presents a challenge for online retailers who are investing in mobile shopping platforms but not reaping the rewards in sales, the researchers said.


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Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis, of Norwich Business School at UEA, believes the study revealed a paradox.

'Mobile shopping is supposed to make the process easier, and yet concerns about making the right choice, or about whether the site is secure enough leads to an 'emotional ambivalence' about the transaction – and that means customers are much more likely to simply abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase,' he said.

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The researchers studied online shopping data from 2016-17 from consumers in Taiwan and the US.

Their results, published in the Journal of Business Research, showed consumers are less likely to abandon their shopping baskets if they are satisfied with the choice process, while additions such as special offers or a well-designed app would also increase the chance a sale being completed.

Flora Huang, the study's lead author, said: 'This is a phenomenon that has not been well researched, yet it represents a huge opportunity for retailers. Companies spend a lot of money on tactics such as pay-per-click advertising to bring consumers into online stores – but if those consumers come in via mobile apps and then are not finalising their purchases, a lot of that money will be wasted.'

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