Survey: mobile devices eclipse PC usage and, in a surprise, drive more conversions

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Many industry insiders expect mobile commerce to eclipse PC-based sales in the relatively near future. A new online survey from Fluent argues that may already be starting to happen.

The recent survey of 2,773 US adults affirmed other data showing that the bulk of consumers now spend much more time with their mobile devices than PCs. But the survey also reflected more transactions on smartphones than the PC — a surprise.

Over the past year, which device would you say you spent the majority of your time using?

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According to Fluent’s data, the majority of these users’ online purchases are happening on mobile devices — by more than two to one. This is a seemingly contrarian finding that goes against the bulk of other data I’ve seen, which shows higher mobile traffic but lower (than PC) transactions.

I asked Fluent to comment on this finding and they have yet to respond. At a minimum, this data can be seen as something of a leading indicator that mobile will overtake the PC for transactions; the only question is when.

Fluent DEVICES & DEMOGRAPHICS 2017Among mobile transactions, slightly more were reported to have been made on apps than mobile sites, but just barely (51 to 49 percent). Slicing the data by age, gender and operating system yielded some interesting differences however:

  • Women are more likely than men to shop on mobile websites
  • Men make the majority of their smartphone purchases in apps
  • Americans 18 – 34 are much more likely to shop on mobile apps; those over 45 are more likely to make purchases on mobile websites
  • Android users are more likely to shop on mobile apps; iOS users on mobile websites

Push marketing was also shown to be an effective driver of mobile transactions.

Nearly 21 percent of Fluent survey respondents said that they had made a smartphone purchase after receiving a promotional email. This compares with 18 percent and 17 percent who did so after receiving a text or mobile push notification (respectively).


According to third-party data, roughly three-fourths of email is now read on mobile phones. If corresponding landing pages and mobile sites aren’t optimized for mobile users the data above suggest that marketers and retailers are losing potentially meaningful revenue.

In addition, these mobile users said that they would be more likely to shop on smartphones with “easier navigation” and “increased speed” and to some degree “enhanced security.” Older users were more interested in security and younger people were generally more interested in faster and simpler user experiences.


The report offers a bunch of additional data about mobile app category usage and gaming. However the significant marketing takeaways are the following:

  • Mobile commerce may overtake e-commerce on the PC sooner than we think
  • Mobile app and site improvements can have a material impact on mobile transactions
  • Push marketing on mobile devices can drive meaningful sales, with email being the most effective (and twith the added benefit of being cross-platform)

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.


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