Third of digital shopping now on mobile devices — but there are disadvantages

Shopping with mobile devices has its advantages, mainly convenience. But that can also be a disadvantage when it comes to consumers’ personal spending habits. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/CentralITAlliance)

Shopping online via mobile devices now accounts for 33% of total digital spending, almost double what it was four years ago. And total mobile spending has grown 16% over the last year, compared to 5% year-over-year growth for desktop online spending.

But if you are not a regular mobile shopper because a small keyboard and screen doesn’t sound appealing, you are partially correct.

“The biggest friction points revolve around not being able to see an item as well as on a desktop. There will always be advantages to making certain types of purchases on bigger screens,” said Paul Dergarabedian of Reston, Virginia-based e-commerce tracking company Comscore, which tracked the recent rise in online mobile shopping.

Despite growing faster than desktop online shopping, even seasoned mobile shoppers prefer the bigger screen and easier navigation of a desktop computer for some purchases.

“Larger dollar purchases — some consumers may still be more comfortable completing that transaction on a desktop,” Dergarabedian told WTOP.

Furniture and appliances, office supplies and consumer electronics have all seen smaller growth in mobile sales than in desktop sales.

Shopping via mobile devices has its advantages, mainly convenience to shop from just about anywhere. But that can also be a disadvantage when it comes to consumers’ personal spending habits.

“I think a lot of people, where they might hesitate to buy something, that interaction with their mobile device — and then often having the ability to make that purchase with the touch of a button — makes it almost too easy,” Dergarabedian said.

Mobile e-commerce spending totaled $47.8 billion in the second quarter of 2020, versus $108.2 billion for desktop transactions, according to Comscore data.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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