Looking at a sample of 400 ecommerce websites using Littledata, we found mobile ecommerce conversion rates vary hugely between operating systems. For Apple devices, it is only 1% (and 0.6% for the iPhone 6), whereas for Android devices the conversion rate is nearly 4% (better than desktop).

Android vs. Apple

It’s become accepted wisdom that a great ‘mobile experience’ is essential for serious online retailers. As 60% of all Google searches now happen on mobile, and over 80% of Facebook ad clicks come from mobile, it’s highly likely the first experience new customers have of your store is on their phone.

So is it because most websites look worse on an iPhone, or iPhone users are pickier?!

There’s something else going on: conversion rate on mobile actually dropped for these same sites from July to October (1.25% to 1.26%) this year, even as the share of mobile traffic increased.

Whereas on desktop, from July (low-season) to October (mid-season for most retailers), the average ecommerce conversion rate jumped from 2% to 2.5%.

It seems during holiday-time, consumers are more willing to use their phones to purchase (perhaps because they are away from their desks). So the difference between Android and iOS is likely to do with cross-device attribution.

The enduring problem of ecommerce attribution is that it’s less likely that customers complete the purchase journey on their phone. And on an ecommerce store you usually can’t attribute the purchase to the initial visit on their phone, meaning you are seriously underestimating the value of your mobile traffic.

I think iPhone users are more likely to own a second device (and a third if you count the iPad), and so can more easily switch from small screen browsing to purchase on a large screen. Whereas Android users are less likely to own a second device, and so purchase on one device. That means iPhone users do purchase – but you just can’t track them as well.

What’s the solution?

The only way to link the visits on a phone with the subsequent purchases on another device is to have some login functionality. You can do that by getting users to subscribe to an email list, and then linking that email to their Google Analytics sessions. Or offering special discounts for users that create an account.

But next time your data tells you it’s not worth marketing to iPhone users, think again.

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