How Mars, Venus and Maps Affect Mobile Shopping

mobile-wallet-300Multichannel retailers have focused a great deal of effort on analyzing the trends related to shopping on tablets and smartphones. While understanding these device trends is necessary, it is also critical to assess those trends in relation to the roles that gender, geography and age play in the overall digital shopping experience.

With new mcommerce terrain come questions about consumer demographics, device types, and even showrooming habits. After all, it’s essential for retailers to understand who purchases from them (or nearly did) and then adjust website and mobile experiences to cater to those segments to boost conversion and remarketing strategies.

To better understand the online and mobile shopping behaviors by demographic, The SeeWhy Conversion Academy conducted a series of online surveys yielding responses from 60,500 U.S. consumers nationwide. In this article, I share several key findings and related takeaways for digital marketers.

Mars vs. Venus
When it comes to digital shopping, gender influences the way we purchase. Women are still winning the online shopping race with 57% of respondents indicating they made an online purchase in the last year, compared to 52% of men.

However, when purchasing on mobile devices, men slightly outpaced the women according to our study. Results showed that 22.2% of men made purchases on their smartphones, compared to 18.2% of female respondents. When using tablets, 20.4% of men, versus 16.9% of women, had made a purchase on their mobile device this year.

While men are making more purchases via mobile devices, we found men less tolerant of negative experiences in the mobile shopping process. Slow Internet connections, navigation issues, small screens, etc. cause men to give up far faster. When it comes to abandoning the shopping process on tablets, however, women’s indecision is the primary reason their transactions don’t reach completion. Women admitted “I wasn’t ready to buy” two times more than male respondents, with 62.5% females, versus 24.7% of males, indicating a desire to shop more before buying via their tablet.

Additionally, the study indicated that women respond slightly more favorably than men to marketing campaigns, like social media and email remarketing. And, while using a mobile device in a store, females looked for promotion codes and vouchers 43% more than male respondents.

Follow the Compass
Taking a wider look at geographical trends, our survey found that the southern part of the U.S. outpaces the West and Northeast when it comes to online shopping. When asked if they had ever made purchases online, 71.7% of survey respondents from the South responded “yes,” compared to 51.2% of respondents from the Northeast.

Women in urban areas made fewer online purchases than their suburban counterparts, which could be attributed to the convenience of stores. However, a notable 70.4% of people in urban areas in the West shopped online versus 47.5% of those in Northeastern urban areas. And, a higher percentage of urban area respondents reported checking prices and reading reviews in the store compared to those in suburban areas, indicating that showrooming happens more in cities, perhaps unsurprisingly.

Gray is the New Green
There is a perception that increasing age reduces the propensity to adopt technological innovations like online shopping. However, our survey data found the opposite. The rate of people who responded “yes” to the question of whether they made a purchase on a mobile device in the past year increased as the age bracket increased. This is likely the result of tablets making online shopping more accessible to older shoppers for the first time.

More than six in 10 respondents age 65+ indicated having made an online purchase this year.  This tendency for older online shoppers to purchase more frequently could be a direct result of this category of buyers having greater disposable income and time to shop online.  Many also prefer the convenience of having products delivered to their homes.

Adapting for Conversion

So now that gender-, geography- and age-specific mobile shopping preferences have been revealed, how do you translate that knowledge into actions that drive conversions?

Here are a few suggestions:

Adjust for differences between Mars and Venus in the storefront. Men and women behave differently in life and online, especially when it comes to digital purchasing. So, design your storefront and mobile commerce strategy accordingly.

  • Deliver greater confidence and incentives for buying to women. Women are two times more hesitant to buy on mobile devices, but make more purchases on desktops than men. To boost conversions, a retailer with a primarily female audience may want to increase email marketing campaigns and add safety and security seals to their websites to reassure female customers during the purchase process.
  • Retailers with male-dominated audiences should make their mobile commerce sites easy to use and optimized for small screens. While Internet speeds are uncontrollable, you can address men’s greater frustration with technological challenges and errors. Optimize your mobile site by reducing image sizes and resolutions, leveraging existing account details at login and eliminating extra steps during checkout. Offering alternate forms of payments, such as PayPal and Google Wallet, can also have dramatic impact on conversion for mobile devices.

Focus on older, female shoppers, especially in “the burbs.” While not all products will appeal to older shoppers, the 65+ age group and women residing in suburbs are to be valued by many online retailers, so don’t neglect these groups.

  • Don’t assume that young urban professionals are the sole source for sales online. Older demographics often have more time and money to spend online, so make digital shopping intuitive and easy to navigate ─ and promote it as an important option to people in your target age brackets.


  • Leverage social media, email retargeting and personalized recommendations to appeal most to suburban stay-at-home moms, particularly in the Midwest, who are highly valuable when it comes to online shopping. Remember that tablets are growing as their tools of choice and prioritize them accordingly.

Understanding who you’re selling to, from where, and what deters and motivates each segment is key to lowering abandonment online – and even more so via mobile.

Online merchants can’t be all things to all people, but adapting navigation and interactions for your target demographics court those you most want to convert.

Charles Nicholls is Chief Strategy Officer of SeeWhyand chair of the SeeWhy Conversion Academy.

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