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Is the future of e-commerce mobile first?

The short answer to this question is a resounding yes. The long answer is, the trend for mobile-first environments for retail commerce is growing fast, and if you’re not ready to make the move now, you’ll very quickly fall behind.

Let’s take a look at the ‘fun facts’

Since 2016, mobile commerce growth has seen an average year-on-year increase of 33.8%. Even before COVID hit, mobile commerce sales were projected to reach USD $2.91 trillion in 2020, 25.4% more than 2019. Now, the growth of mobile commerce is expected to continue, and looks set to increase by 22.3% to USD$3.56 trillion in 2021. That’s trillion with a capital ‘T’.

The total time spent on mobile devices is also rising, doubling to 48% between 2014 and 2019. Likewise, the share of mobile e-commerce sales in total e-commerce sales has increased 28.2% from 2016 to 67.2% in 2019.

Around 80% of us have used our phones to buy online, and far from reducing this, COVID is likely to have skewed those numbers even higher as forced isolation means consumers shop from home.

Statistics aside, designing a retail commerce website to be mobile-first is simply common sense for any retailer serious about staying afloat. Let’s break down a few reasons why:

Smartphones have become extensions of ourselves

Because the smart phone has advanced so quickly, the need for laptops and desktops has significantly declined. In fact, Shopify’s analysis of Black Friday/Cyber Monday in 2018 revealed mobile accounted for 66% of sales over the Black Friday weekend, and only 34% of sales took place on desktop.

And we might not wish to admit it, but our smart phones have now become ‘extensions of our bodies.’ They go everywhere with us, into our meetings, on our meal tables, into the bathroom (ick), they sleep next to us in bed, they are present as a third wheel during dates – they are with us all the time and are what we now do the majority of our browsing on. 

As of March 2020, 52.03% of overall web traffic comes through mobile phones. So if you’re not mobile-optimised, then you’re missing out on a significant market share of online browsers.

Google prefers mobile-optimised sites

As Chrome accounts for 65% of browser usage, Google tends to be leading the market on consumer browsing. In fact, Google recently announced it will be indexing all new websites mobile-first, ranking them before the desktop version. So in order to rank on Google, mobile-first is a must.

Shifts in consumer behaviour

As we all know, consumer behaviour is a constantly moving target. But a few things have always remained true when it comes to customers: You must be where they are, you must make it easy for them, and they want information and to be able to engage with your brand before purchase. As the line between physical, instore experiences and online, virtual experiences becomes thinner, mobile is where most of your consumers will end up, sometimes even when they are standing in your shop.

Social media shopping

Instagram has emerged as a powerful platform for online selling. In fact, recent data reveals 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every single month. This means a mobile-first e-commerce solution that can be integrated with social media platforms is critical to ensure customers enjoy a seamless purchasing journey from the moment they engage with your brand or brand influencer, to the moment they receive their product and become ‘raving fans.’

Getting it right from the get-go

Becoming a mobile-first retail brand doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth either. Take a look at leading lingerie connoisseur Honey Birdette,  that leveraged Shopify Plus partner The Working Party to completely customise its site for mobile, improving site speed, checkout, search, and search filtering. 

As a result of the company’s mobile optimisation, 80% of Honey Birdette’s customers now visit the brand’s site on mobile.

Anecdotally, the performance has significantly improved overall as a mobile-first site, with videos and mobile-friendly imagery bring the site to life.

So if you’re serious about boosting sales and customer experience, don’t fall behind the competition. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few final tips to get your mobile-first strategy right.

ShopifyPlus simplifies the complex with commerce technology that’s both powerful and easy to use. We make the tools you need to evolve, scale and thrive – fast. We give you the freedom to experiment and expand your brand in game-changing ways. 

You know retail, we know tech. We’re Shopify Plus

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