Shoppers hit stumbling blocks when trying to buy on smartphones, leading them to abandon shopping carts in high numbers.

The numbers are in and it’s staggering. Not only did Black Friday 2016 cross the $3 Billion mark in online spending, it was the first time in retail history where over $1 Billion was spent via mobile devices. For many consumers, it was not necessary to go out and brave the retail shopping crowds. As people finished their Thanksgiving leftovers, they were tapping away on smartphones and purchasing in the comfort of their own homes.

One stat however, was eye-opening in how mobile performed so far this holiday season. Despite driving the majority of visits to retail websites on Black Friday (at 55 percent), mobile accounted for 36 percent of sales—a gap of 19 percent. At the same time, conversion on smartphones was 2.4 percent compared to 5.5 percent on desktops.

Despite the tremendous growth in both mobile browsing and shopping, it’s clear that consumers are hitting roadblocks. The data shows us that not only are mobile orders smaller compared to desktop, more carts are abandoned as well. Although the challenges are apparent, this is really a story about opportunity. For the retail industry, both large and small improvements can be made to close the gaps and capture the big potential presented by mobile shopping. Here are a few to share.

Design for Speed and Context

With mobile conversion, every millisecond counts. If a page takes just a bit longer to load, many shoppers will abandon. To accomplish speed, retailers must distance themselves from what they deliver on desktop and ensure the mobile Web experience is not bloated with unnecessary bells and whistles. Shoppers also do not have time to scroll through numerous pages, nor do they have patience for images that are too small. Retailers have to make pinch-and-zoom functionality available on apps, or size graphics large enough; Pages should be simplified to minimize cumbersome navigation. Although seemingly basic, survey data shows that consumers rate “pinch-and-zoom” (32%) and small screen size (38%) as common frustrations.


Fix the Shopping Cart

On one of the most critical pages for conversion, shoppers are hitting stumbling blocks. During the holiday season, 19% of smartphone carts result in an order compared to 30% on desktop. Retailers should aim to fix the cart navigation so that shoppers don’t have to leave the page to add additional items. Data should be better integrated where payment information does not have to be re-entered, while looking to bring in technologies like mobile wallets (be it Apple Pay or Android Pay) to make for a more seamless experience.

Leverage Data to Better Personalize

It’s difficult sometimes for consumers to assess personalization because when done well, it should be largely invisible. However, many indicators point to the value proposition. Millennials for instance, cite irrelevant push notifications (33%) and non-personalized ads (22%) as common frustrations on mobile. When executed correctly, personalization can both address qualms and enhance the experience. Retailers should look to leverage data in producing better recommendations on the cart page (and elsewhere) to drive larger orders. Depending on shopping behaviors and preferences, promotions can be better personalized to what individual shoppers will respond best to.

Bridge App and Web


For most retailers, the decision is not whether to invest in web or app; both channels are valuable. Web should be seen as “top-of-the-funnel”, used to attract new and casual shoppers. They can find you online without having to install anything. For the most loyal customers however, retailers should drive them to the app. The most committed fans will be receptive to it. Once they are there, brands now have an ongoing presence on their phone and a means to engage with them on a consistent basis. What they will find is that a small base of loyal app users—when nurtured correctly with the right level of personalization and incentives—will convert at higher levels and drive a disproportionate amount of revenue.

Blending Online and Offline

The undercurrent of the boom in online shopping is the threat it poses for physical retail. However, the proliferation of mobile can actually be a primary lifeline for brick-and-mortar. One of the big opportunities that mobile provides is the ability to blend the digital and physical worlds. This is not only about mobile conversion but in-store conversion as well. For instance, if an item is not available in-store, retailers should provide an easy way for shoppers to have it sent to their home via mobile without incurring any additional cost. They should also provide a way to suggest other items to add onto the mobile cart, since the shopper is already there. Leveraging location technologies, smartphones can also be tapped to deliver personalized, in-store promotions. If a shopper has opted in, they can receive a customized discount when they enter the store. It can be personalized based off their past shopping activity, for instance.

Adobe provides web analytics technology to 254 of the Top 1000 online retailers in North America, according to