There’s a whole lot of hype surrounding mobile and smartphone use lately. However, we need to separate the hype from the facts in order to make a wise business decision about investing in a mobile website.
American Express Open Forum first published this article, Take Your Site Mobile on October 5, 2012. The story was also picked up by Mashable shortly thereafter which of course, started a social media sharing frenzy.
In the article, author Lauren Indvik makes some pretty compelling statements, but are they THAT compelling?
Well, let’s look at the claims and compare apples with apples.
First the article states:
Mobile traffic currently makes up 10 percent of global Internet traffic, and next year more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online, according to Gartner.
That 10% statement is a bit misleading. Yes, it’s true that the current mobile traffic is 10% of the global Internet traffic, but have you looked at where all that global traffic is coming from?
Here are the sobering stats according to MobiThinking, the collector of mobile data.
We see that the biggest cellphone users globally are located in China. So how many mobile sales do you think you’ll get from those users?
In order to make the statistic really compelling, you need to break down the amount of mobile traffic per country and equate that to the amount of mobile sales or users. Lumping the global Internet traffic is misleading – especially in the U.K. where the mobile use is lower than in the U.S.
Additionally, the second half of the quoted sentence states a guess made by Gartner. Maybe they are very good guessers but I’ve seen them be wrong a few times. But let’s assume that they are correct and more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online. Is that again globally? If so, are the majority of those new users going to also be in China?
In the sentence immediately following the guess, you read:
Purchases made on mobile devices amounted to $6.7 billion in the U.S. last year—about 8 percent of total online sales—and are expected to nearly double to $11.6 billion this year. By 2015, U.S. mobile sales are forecast to reach $31 billion.
8% in sales shouldn’t be ignored but, you have to weigh that against 8% of your total sales vs. the cost to develop the mobile site. If you’re a small business and 8% of your annual sales is under 1,000 GBP, you might want to hold off on that mobile investment.
The quote also says that mobile sales are forecast to reach $31 billion by 2015. Yes and my business plan forecasted that I’d be a millionaire by now. I’m not even close!
A lot can happen between now and 2015. Did we all expect or forecast the global economic downturn we’re experiencing? There are far too many variables that could affect any forecast and a wise business owner should never speculate on a forecast.
So, when is going mobile with a website wise? When you have analytics showing that at least 20% of your sales are coming from mobile users or you see a rapidly shifting trend of sales from mobile users.
With pinch/zoom technology in almost all the smartphones, your website may not perform as horribly as you think. Want to find out how mobile users are seeing your site? Just go to your website from your phones browser! Try out the purchase process and see how well it functions. You may be quite surprised!