On its 20th anniversary, Singles' Day (11 November), a popular Chinese shopping day meant to celebrate the status of those who are single, set a new one-day record of $38 billion in sales, a 26% increase over 2018 ($30.7 billion), according to multiple media reports. However, according to Akamai data, the mobile bounce rate for all the retailers we tracked showed an increase of nearly 40% to 42.80%, which is at the high end of the 20% to 45% ecommerce average.
We tabulated and analyzed aggregate statistics from global online retailers that number nearly 150 websites and mobile retail applications. For our baseline, we used the week of 3 November 2019 to 9 November 2019, and we used a similar period for 2018's baseline, along with the actual holiday on 11 November in both years.
Mobile Shoppers Research Before Purchase
While desktop usage on Singles' Day 2019 increased 11% over Singles' Day 2018, mobile usage increased less than 1%. This reinforces the trend we are seeing, that mobile shoppers are conducting research on their device before making their purchase on a desktop. This trend is corroborated by other sources (40% of mobile users are researching their product before purchasing). The increase in desktop usage from Singles' Day 2019 vs. the 2019 Baseline (6%) and desktop conversion rate improvement by 20.45% to 3.18% (same period) supports this trend as well.
Mobile Bounce Rate Remains Too High
All retailers should be interested in a huge spike in mobile bounce rates this year. 42.80%, this year's Singles' Day bounce rate average, pushes the boundaries of the typical ecommerce range of 20% to 45%. Multiple reports are finding that that every extra second in mobile websites' load time is resulting in a 20% drop in conversions. Unoptimized mobile sites are costing retailers money.
There are two primary causes for mobile sites that are slow to load and cause users to "bounce." One is connection speed, which is out of the control of retailers. The other is what they can manage and execute on: optimizing their sites for mobile visitors.
Due to the increase in mobile research before purchases, today's shoppers are demanding more images and videos to assist them in their journeys. Due to this demand, Google research shows that "73% of consumers will switch from a poorly designed mobile site to one that makes purchasing easier." Retailers need to focus on optimizing these images and videos for their mobile visitors, which will help them lower their visitor bounce rates.
Retail sites have thousands of images and videos, and most retailers do not have the in-house staff or systems to optimize and manage every individual image and video for all the required variances. As a stop-gap measure, many retailers resort to using the 'lowest common denominator" approach of a single image or video that is used for all devices and optimized for none. This contributes to an increased bounce rate as retailers are also adding more complex (larger) images and videos (e.g. 360º views) to appeal to mobile shoppers.
Since most retailers are unable to dedicate resources to create and manage thousands of separate, optimized images and videos, an automated system should be employed instead. Using such a system will help provide a favorable consumer experience to mobile shoppers, lower site bounce rates, and should ultimately increase purchases.
It's very easy for any retailer to look at the record sales for 2019 Singles' Day and be comfortable with a 26% revenue increase. But retailers should also examine the nearly 40% increase in the mobile bounce rate for all the retailers Akamai tracked which is at the high end of the industry ecommerce average. Lowering this rate would potentially increase sales, an attractive proposition for any retailer.
Mobile shoppers are clearly researching before they purchase, and retailers should be doing all they can to optimize their sites for mobile visitors. To be sure, optimizing and managing thousands of images and videos for a wide variety of mobile devices and OS/browser combinations is a challenging endeavor.
Retailers should seek an automated image and video optimization system that will dramatically improve mobile shopper customer experience and lower the bounce rate toward the lower end of the scale, which in turn should lead to increased revenue.