In early 2014, traffic to mobile sites and apps surpassed traffic to desktop destinations for the first time, heralding the beginning of a mobile-first digital era. Nearly three years into this mobile-first world,  brands are finally starting to embrace this new model with differentiated mobile investments and innovative digital initiatives tailored specifically to the mobile environment.

Mobile now accounts for 69% of digital media time among US consumers, leaving desktop with less than a third, and mobile apps alone are responsible for 51% of all digital media time. Mobile ad spend has grown 87% annually for the past five years, compared to only 6% for desktop.

The increased ad spend on mobile has corresponded with an increase in mobile conversion rates. The share of e-commerce sales attributed to mobile soared from 4% in 2010 to 21% in 2016.

While these overall numbers indicate high demand for robust mobile commerce features, L2’s recent analysis showed that only a handful of brands optimally deploy marketing resources and streamline their mobile commerce experiences. Brands that fail to respond swiftly with methodical investments risk losing market share and revenue in both digital and physical channels.

The most encouraging sign that brands are open for mobile business is that mobile optimization is now almost universal across the nine sectors studied. Furthermore, 94 of the 100 brands L2 analyzed have made an effort to adapt their site content for mobile.

However, leader brands do more than simply recontextualize desktop content for the mobile environment. Innovative brands roll out content templates and apps that take advantage of mobile-specific features and address the challenges of accessing content on a smaller device. Of the 94 brands with mobile-optimized sites, the vast majority have sites that simply mirror the desktop experience. Only one in 10 deploys unique mobile UX features like 360-degree product views and anchored navigation with a header and footer.

Site experience

Despite their perceived shortcomings, mobile apps have been adopted by 51% of brands in L2’s study. To rise above the noise, winning apps must deliver advanced features aimed specifically at loyal customers rather than occasional shoppers. Apart from push notifications, a minority of brand apps include features designed to reduce friction in the path to purchase for recurring customers, such as mobile wallet integration and biometric identification.

Brands still struggle to find a balance between creating compelling mobile content and marketing that content appropriately. Best-in-class brands are moving beyond top-of-funnel awareness on mobile by using paid media to drive conversions. To integrate their mobile assets intuitively in their overall marketing strategy, brands must tailor their email, search, and display strategies to target specific mobile user segments.

As consumer demand for mobile commerce grows, many brands seem to be in a holding pattern, deploying basic solutions that meet yesterday’s consumer expectations. But with shoppers increasingly relying on mobile for omnichannel solutions, they need to improve their competence. 

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