By David Dorf-Oracle on Feb 27, 2015
Don't get me wrong; I think mobile has and will continue to have a huge impact to the retail industry. It's just that sometimes we get swept up by the shinny new object and neglect the basics. Less than two years ago Marc Andreessen declared that stores were dead, yet they still typically represents more than 90% of a retailer's revenue. Investments may not track contributions exactly, and that's understandable. We just can't let the ratio get too out-of-sync. Put another way, a meal consists of main dishes and side dishes. If the chef neglects the side dishes the meal won't be ruined, but the converse is not true.
After the holidays I kept seeing stories about mobile traffic doubling or tripling, so retailers were upping their investments. But we need to put that in perspective. Even with huge growth, mobile is still not as big as PC traffic. MarketLive estimates PCs account for 56% of website traffic, and more importantly, 75% of the revenue. See the chart at the left from e-Marketer, which also shows average order value from PCs is higher too.
I trust actual metrics much more than the surveys that ask questions like, "have you purchased something from your smartphone in the last six months?" Few haven't, but often they're small, infrequent purchases so it tends to overweight the results.
And there's a big difference between browsing and buying. As you can see below, shoppers often are doing research on their mobile devices then completing the purchase on their PC. The PC has a definite advantage when it comes to conversion. From my own experience, I rarely buy on my mobile phone but split purchases between my tablet and PC. After all, today's tablet is basically as powerful as our PCs.
You will find more statistics at Statista
So back to the original question, is mobile over-hyped? No, its hugely important to the retail business, and customers have come to expect top-notch experiences on their mobile devices. But don't get distracted to the extent that the basics get underfunded. The "main dishes" of retail are what continue to bring in the majority of sales.