Mobile as a driver of retail sales in 5 charts

Mcommerce growth is slowing, but mobile’s importance isn’t going anywhere. The channel is vital for commerce on social platforms, retailer apps, and mobile browsers. But as digital tools enter retail spaces, mobile will prove important for more than just mcommerce sales.

1. Mcommerce is bigger than ever, but it’s not close to the biggest ecommerce driver

Mcommerce conversion rates remained at 2% over the past year, lower than desktop and tablet, according to Kibo Commerce. The average mobile order in the US was around $112 in the second quarter, while the average desktop order was nearly $156.

Mcommerce accounts for an increasing share of total ecommerce sales in the US, according to our forecasts. This year, US retail mcommerce spend will hit $440.13 billion and account for 41.8% of retail ecommerce sales. In 2026, that spend will increase to $743.39 billion and 46.3% of retail ecommerce.

2. Millennials put the “M” in mcommerce

Over the past three years, millennial shopping habits have pivoted toward weekday mobile use, according to CouponFollow. Most US adults shop at least once per week, according to Jungle Scout, with 83.3% of US mobile device users ages 14 and older shopping on a mobile device, according to our forecasts.

However, only 65.2% of US mobile device users actually purchase via mobile. Many are browsing but not actually buying, meaning there’s a sizable chunk of mobile shoppers who could be converted to buyers.

3. Mcommerce spend isn’t the only measure of mobile’s importance in retail

Smartphone QR scanners have increased by more than 30 million since 2019. In-store use of QR codes to access coupons or learn more about products and services drives brand awareness, mobile app use, and purchasing.

QR codes “simplify automated exchanges,” said our analyst Yory Wurmser. As retail automations increase, in-store mobile use will become an increasingly important purchase-driver.

4. Coupons are moving to smartphones

Two-thirds of the US population uses digital coupons. Of those users, 9 in 10 access coupons on their smartphones. This is yet another example of the importance of mobile as a purchase-driver beyond a strictly mcommerce lens. Coupons incentivize users to adopt digital wallets, which can help retailers learn about consumer behaviors in and out of stores.

“Consumers are looking for easy,” said our analyst Suzy Davidkhanian. “The digital wallet, typically embedded in the retailer’s app, helps bridge the gap between online and stores seamlessly.”

5. One important trend to watch? Visual search

Ten percent of US adults under 35 years old regularly use visual search to shop, and another 17% have used it less regularly. Of those adults ages 18 to 34 who have not used it, the majority are interested in the technology.

This fall, Google released multisearch functionality combining text and visual search, which is one of the company’s strongest ecommerce features, according to Wurmser. Search innovations, especially via mobile, will drive product discovery in the coming years.

The bottom line: Mobile is an increasingly important retail channel, but a lot of that importance isn’t strictly mcommerce. Mobile aspects like search, digital coupons, and QR codes drive purchases both online and offline. In the coming era of omnichannel commerce and visual search, marketers and retailers alike should maintain a focus on all aspects of mobile.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

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