E-Commerce & Mobile Devices

With more than 11 years of experience Soumajit has served some of the largest brands and companies to create an integrated marketing and brand building platform across offline and online media

E-Commerce is growing in the country – at more than expected rate, much to the excitement of online marketplaces and brand e-stores. If we look at e-Commerce search volumes, there has been a 139 percent growth this tear (January, February and March) compared to similar time last year.

Along with e-Commerce business, the other thing on a steady increase is smartphone usage. Indians have made smartphones their always-on and ubiquitous companion. While mobile phone users in India is slated to increased from 670 to 892 million (2016 to 2021), smartphone users will increase from 359 to 781 million. An average user spends almost 4.5 hours daily browsing internet on smartphones, while women spend more time than men and are more engaged shoppers.

The growth of app downloads have triggered further reliance on smartphones for shopping or communicating. The top two categories of apps downloaded by users are shopping/retail (32 percent) and travel (26 percent), followed by others in single digit share of overall app downloads. Let us restrict this discussion to e-Commerce and mobile phone trends in the online purchase funnel of users.

Out of the overall 139 percent growth in search queries, 49 percent growth came from mobile devices, while 224 percent came from desktops. Mobile devices have been considered as a discovery platform for a long time, and are considered to assist in conversions, but some of the recent trends suggest a change. Usage of smartphones during prime time (8pm to 12pm) far surpasses desktop and tablet. If we now look at the shopping trends of an Indian consumer, most purchases through the week tend to peak during the night, with maximum sales happening between 10pm and 12pm. Hence, it becomes extremely important to cash in on mobile conversions during these hours. For e-Commerce, due to larger mobile traffic and inherent user experience issues, a majority of mobile conversion rate has always been lowest among desktop, mobile web and app. Companies have moved from mobile compatible websites, to specific mobile sites, to responsive sites, to mobile-first websites and recently to PWA (Progressive Web Apps). There are also SPA (Single Page Applications) for seamless ordering. With all of these improvements, how productive has mobile ads become? If we look at Click through rate data, mobile CTR has grown by 22 percent as compared to four percent for desktops. 68 percent of all clicks happened on mobile devices. In fact almost 30 percent of all e-Commerce related searches during the first quarter of 2018 happened from mobile devices.

Considering that App conversion rates are higher among all e-Commerce platforms, companies have now steadily diverged Digital marketing budgets towards app installs and remarketing

In 2017, Android had the maximum share in terms of device OS(97.4 percent), while iOS was at 2.2 percent. For app owners, volume of sales from Android devices is clearly much more than iOS (considering you are present on both app stores). Apple devices, though showed higher Average Order Value and Customer Life Time Value, which means iOS App users were qualitatively better for e-Commerce companies than the Android counterparts. In terms of channels of App downloads, there are Facebook App install campaigns, Google UAC (Universal App Campaign), Affiliate App installs (Fixed buy, incentivized or non-incentivized) and partner networks.

App activation (or the first purchase of a user post app install) is bench marked with the organic activation rate. Any paid app install campaign is considered to be working well if the activation rate of that campaign matches or betters the organic activation rate. If we look at some of the top e-Commerce companies, Google UAC activation rate is usually much more than that of organic rates, considering scaling-up is done steadily and keeping performance in mind, while Facebook App installs have activation rates at par with organic rates. A little deeper analysis of attribution was done by increasing the time frame for analysis or the time considered to calculate activation rates. It was seen that post second month of install, the activation rates from Facebook installs went-up and so did the customer lifetime value. Google UAC installs activation rate tapered down after first month. It was also seen that Facebook app remarketing campaigns work best to activate app installs from the same channel.

Considering that App conversion rates are higher among all e-Commerce platforms, companies have now steadily diverged Digital marketing budgets towards app installs and remarketing. Online CRM using app, behavior tracking and segmentation is very seamless and effective for app user database compared to websites.

But even then, mobile advertising in India is not short of challenges. Almost 32 percent of all mobile advertising is found to be fraud. The cost of this sums up to 350 million dollars. Due to low quality installs and incentivized downloads, India saw 1.7 times higher install fraud than global average, with 2.5 times higher click frauds for mobile ads. Attribution and use of technology is the way forward, and we do see Analytics and Marketing intelligence playing a huge role in enhancing RoI from mobile marketing spends for most ecommerce companies.