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Smartphones shown to curtail online impulse buys

18 January 2018 - 12:54 by Paul Tissington

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People who carry out safe shopping online via a portable device are usually less willing to commit to a purchase than desktop users because of the way sites are displayed, according to a new study by researchers at the University of East Anglia.

Retail Times reports that this difference in habits has been identified in the wake of the festive period where sales and offers are rife, meaning that bargain hunters are willing to take a little more time to check they are getting the best possible deal.

Less than a third of people who began the process of placing an order from a portable gadget ultimately went through with the transaction, analysts discovered. This is in spite of the fact that almost half of all e-commerce site visits are now carried out using a mobile or tablet.

Study spokesperson, Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis, said that while m-commerce was portrayed as making safe shopping online simpler, the reality is that consumers are actually more cautious about making purchases due to a phenomenon known as ‘emotional ambivalence’. In effect, this means that a combination of factors, including questions over the security of buying from a smartphone, make cart abandonment much more common.

The compact size of modern devices means that there is a lot less screen real estate for sites to use. This results in a minimalist approach which works from an aesthetic perspective, but means many visitors feel like there is information missing.

Shoppers become concerned not only that they could be missing an offer, but also that they might end up facing steeper fees for things like delivery that are not obvious on a mobile platform.

This could help desktop sites to remain relevant going forwards, even as smartphone ownership grows and mobile traffic comes to dominate.