M-Commerce Usability: Exploring the Mobile Shopping Experience

One of the 705 images from our new M-Commerce Usability study.

Everybody is talking about mobile. Some e-commerce sites are venturing into it. The potential for mobile e-commerce is enormous: ComScore predict the number of mobile users online will surpass desktop users online in 2014, while eMarkter reported an industry wide 81% growth rate in mobile sales from 2011 to 2012 ($25 billion) and forecasts it to account for 24% of all online commerce by 2016.

This is why we decided to invest the better part of a year at Baymard Institute to conduct a large-scale usability study focusing specifically on mobile e-commerce (or M-Commerce). We set out to explore the entire mobile shopping experience, from the user’s conceptual understanding of m-commerce sites, to how users interact with form fields. More specifically, we tested category navigation, product search, filtering and sorting of results list, the layout of product list, product page design, cart functionality, the checkout process, the homepage, privacy concerns, mobile payments, account steps, shipping selection, booking processes (rentals, aviation and tickets), as well as help pages, error messages, basic mobile form field usability, and technical performance.

After completing the most exhaustive m-commerce usability study done to date, it is easy to understand why some researchers cry out for caution. SeeWhy reports a staggering 97% mobile cart abandonment rate, and IBM has documented m-commerce conversion rates to be around half of what the full-site e-commerce equivalents are seeing. And despite testing the mobile commerce sites of 18 multi-million dollar businesses, including Walmart, Amazon, Avis, and United, numerous of the test subjects were unable to complete their purchase at the majority of the sites they tested. Note the word used is unable, not unwilling. The usability issues were that disruptive.

We’re therefore excited to release the findings of this study in our new M-Commerce Usability report with 147 research-based design guidelines that will help you steer clear of the many pitfalls of mobile shopping and overcome the design challenges introduced by smaller screens and new interaction methods.

Learn more about the M-Commerce Usability report.

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Authored by Baymard Institute

Published on March 12, 2013

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