Let’s say you are not heavily rooted into the world of internet retail or eCommerce as the cool kids called it back in the early part of the millennium.  You probably still own a phone and most likely it looks similar to mine a large glass panel that does everything from allow you to video chat with you mom in Florida, use just your voice to text your wife when you’ll be home from work, manage 5 email accounts, take silly pics of your kids, post said pics to facebook and finally shop the World Wide Web.  Actually in 2016 you are most likely shopping a mobile optimized version of the web…  Introducing mCommerce.  

mCommerce introduces nothing new to commerce except that it should be touch friendly, retina optimized and exist in micro bursts.  The people who do it best make it seemless from every other kind of commerce. Including the old school kind that forces you to go into a physical store.  

So why am I writing this (ironically on a phone)?  Well, this past holiday season retailers saw their mobile traffic fly through the roof.  Almost the entire world sees more than half of their traffic come through a mobile device of some kind and that in itself should have been something featured when Michael J Fox went into the future but there is a problem in that.  People don’t convert at the same rate as they did typically on a computer that sits on your desk.  Now there is a problem… over the last two years retailers have seen their device penetration shift 20-25 points towards a phone yet that conversion hasn’t followed suit.  The micro moments that are perfect for a 5″ screen don’t often include the check out process the same way it includes 140 character tweets, snapchats, text messages or checking the weather.  For some it has…  I want to explain my experiences.  

I’ll start here…  I exclusively use Amazon on my phone.  There is nothing else to say, I am signed in, I use thumb print to place an order with my saved preferences, the search interface is simple and usually when I place an order it is a micro moment of shopping and often on the go.  I say to myself, I need (insert name of something a toddler might need) I search that item, I review pricing, maybe reviews, I add to cart and it’s at my house in 1-2 days.  I did all of this while ordering a sandwich at work.  

Here is another pro-phone experience…  I bought the new iPad Pro and wanted a case for when I travel, not really a case more of a sleeve and I wanted to pay pretty much the bare minimum.  I knew eBay would have this from some retailer in China that was selling these for somewhere around $5 with shipping vs. the $40 ones I saw on Amazon.  So I get up from my office desk to find my phone to check eBay, I had to ping my phone from my watch before finding it.  All in about 5 minutes before I returned to my desk after making a purchase through the eBay app.  More than half of that time was spent looking for my phone.  However, the irony in this is that the whole thing started while I was sitting at a desk with a computer.  The process was so much easier on my phone that the idea of using a laptop to make the purchase seemed harder than finding my semi-lost phone.  

Here’s an example that goes the other way…  I am sitting at my work desk but on my phone trying to understand where there are gaps between desktop and phone customers on our sites.  I had a short list of potential points worth reviewing further when my wife texts me that the kids need snow pants for school.  We had a sale on kids snow pants that were much cheaper than Amazon and with buy online pick up in store I could have these in my hands in just a couple hours.   I texted her back no worries, put down my phone and made the purchase on my work laptop.  

I picked up my phone and went back to trying to solve why people were not converting on phone the same way as on desktop when I realized I had just pushed back my own agenda a few basis points.  I literally put down a device that was already on the site I wanted to shop from only to purchase from an archaic Dell lap top.  

Gone were the conveniences of my previous two examples, gone were the seem less app integrations, gone were the micro shopping moments and I quickly looked for other alternatives.

As retailers we should be excited people are embracing the ability to shop anywhere while doing anything but if we don’t think about these transactions as micro moments and we don’t give them reasons to think of a phone as a level playing field or in the case of Amazon and eBay as an adventageous one then why would they convert at the same rate.