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Smartphones will overtake desktops in visit share for the average retailer by the end of this year, predicts Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) in a recent release. But the “smartphone moment” hasn’t yet translated to revenues, as conversion rates on smartphones continue to lag those on larger screens.

During the second quarter of 2017, retailers’ average conversion rate for smartphone visitors was 1.4%, about half the rate for tablets (2.7%) and slightly more than one-third of the rate for desktops (3.9%). This pattern has also been observed in analyses by Monetate.

On an encouraging front, smartphone conversion rates have been inching up, from 1.2% in Q2 2016 and 1% in Q2 2015. Conversion rates are actually up across devices, with tablets and desktops also seeing higher rates than in prior quarters.

As a result of those lower conversion rates (and possibly of lower average order values, although those are not discussed in the report), smartphones accounted for just 21% share of retailers’ e-commerce revenues in Q2. That’s about half their visit share (43%).

Analyzing these results from a revenue-per-visit (RPV) perspective yields the following stat: a desktop visit is worth almost 4 times more to retailers than a smartphone visit.

That’s because when ADI indexed RPV to desktops (100%), smartphones produced just 28% of desktops’ revenue-per-visit. Tablets fared better, at 63% of desktops’ RPV.

Online Retailers Relying More on Paid Search

Natural search still is the single largest marketing channel referring traffic to the average online retailer, per the report. That’s in contrast to large retailers, which tend to derive more traffic from paid than natural search, according to prior research from ADI.

Even so, paid search is gradually eroding natural search’s share, per this latest report, a trend that tends to be exacerbated during holiday periods.

In fact, while visits from natural search have slightly declined year-over-year for US retailers, they’ve grown by 45% for paid search. That’s only superseded by social networks, which have more than doubled their referrals year-over-year. Even so, social networks only contribute around 2% of retailers’ referral traffic.

In other highlights concerning marketing channels, ADI notes that:

  • Email revenue share peaks at 10AM, making it the most morning-focused marketing channel;
  • However, conversion rates from email are actually highest during the late-night period;
  • Social media and display conversion rates also seem to rise in the late-night hours, which ADI suggests indicates impulse purchases; and
  • .

  • Conversions peak in the afternoon for both paid and organic search.

About the Data: The results are based on an analysis of aggregate and anonymized consumer data comprised of more than 50 billion visits to over 250 retail websites between January 2015 and January 2017 in the US.

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