Our permanent connection to social media and the internet serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it’s a bit of escapism when we’re waiting for the bus or the train; on the other, it’s a physical tether to the things we care about, from friends and family to jobs, favourite TV shows, and music collections.
And we haven’t quite got used to being disconnected yet.
e-Commerce in the bedroom
We take our phones everywhere with us. According to Ofcom, mobile is now the preferred device for browsing the internet to the extent that people will search for information on a phone even when a desktop computer is nearby, such as in the workplace or at home.
It’s not just down to ownership or cost – 80% of consumers have mobiles while 91% also have PCs or laptops – so why do phones attract such a significant share of web users?
The soaring popularity of mobile e-commerce in particular is due to mobile phones providing a more comfortable and private environment for browsing. To put that another way, you can use your iPhone in bed or in the bathroom. A good quarter of UK shoppers have bought something while in bed, while research from Voucherbox indicates that 77% of the population take their phone with them on bathroom breaks.
It’s not just a UK phenomenon either. Up to 90% of all smartphones sold on the Japanese market are waterproof so that they can be used in the shower or bath. It’s ‘private browsing’ taken to its logical extreme but it also serves a serious purpose – in a society as crowded as Japan, the bathroom is one of the few places people can find privacy.
According to a study by credit card firm, MasterCard, 2% of mobile users in the United States have even bought goods via their phone while at a funeral.
The numbers are – or should be – striking for anybody with vested interest in what people are spending their money on. However, a quarter of UK websites still aren’t optimised for mobile, a situation that has serious repercussions for any businesses included in that segment. As of 2015, Google ranked optimised sites higher in its rankings than un-optimised ones.
Given that mobile users also have a very short attention span (the average person won’t tolerate loading times longer than three seconds), a poor or non-existent mobile website means that businesses effectively can’t reach a portion of their potential audience. It’s true that desktop sites are still the king as far as conversion – or buying – is concerned (0.92% to desktop’s 3.41%) but it’s no excuse for not being prepared for a majority market.
There’s also the question of apps. Perhaps the most damning statistic about the need for a functional mobile website, and the slow crawl to implement them (remember, Google didn’t begin punishing sites until recently, a long time after mobile internet became mainstream) is the fact that the vast majority (90%) of web browsing on phones is done via apps.
Consumers don’t want to spend time on awkward and potentially broken websites – they want to browse in comfort, in the bath.