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If online consumer switches from smartphone to PC, a purchase is imminent

Likelihood of ordering 70% higher if client begins search on mobile device
11 September 2018
If online consumer switches from smartphone to PC, a purchase is imminent

The role of the smartphone in our online shopping should not be underestimated. Many consumers begin their search on a phone or tablet, become convinced they want a product and then switch to a less mobile device (such as a PC or laptop) to make the purchase. The likelihood that online customers will actually place an order is a staggering 70% higher if they start on a smartphone and then switch to a less mobile device while online shopping than if they start their search on a PC or laptop.

This is the conclusion of marketing researchers Peter Verhoef (UG), Thorsten Wiesel (Münster), P.K. Kannan (Maryland) and Evert de Haan (Frankfurt am Main). Their findings are published this month in the lead article of the academic Journal of Marketing.

Smartphones important marketing channel

The use of mobile devices to go online has seen explosive growth in the last decade. Phones have therefore become an important channel for businesses to reach consumers. However, according to the eCommerce Payment Monitor, the percentage of online purchases on smartphones (9%) lags considerably behind the percentage on desktops (74%). Marketeers therefore wonder if there is much point in making significant investments in mobile advertising on mobile platforms.

Peter Verhoef
Peter Verhoef

The research by Verhoef et al. shows that the role of mobile devices in online shopping should not be underestimated. Two thirds of the consumers in their research used several devices to make an online purchase. ‘It is too simple to conclude that marketing efforts should focus on laptops and fixed computers because those are where the orders are placed. The high percentage of online orders via these fixed devices proves to be due to a large extent to an online search that begins on mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet’, says Verhoef. ‘It is important that businesses also focus their marketing efforts on mobile devices, even if the actual order is often placed on a fixed computer.’


The researchers found that consumers switch to a PC or laptop during the buying process because they want a greater sense of security when entering credit card or address details, for instance. The switch effect is greater with expensive products, products that the customer is unfamiliar with and purchases from an unknown shop.

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Last modified:07 January 2021 3.48 p.m.
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