Revealed: Key Mobile eCommerce Metrics and Stats for South Africa

With Google’s looming “Mobilegeddon” arriving on the 21st of April 2015, it seemed fitting to delve into some mobile eCommerce metrics in South Africa and give you an idea of just what to expect from mobile visitors to your eCommerce website.  Just about every mobile eCommerce (mCommerce) article you’ll read these days is telling you how important mobile commerce is and that you need to have a mobile website or native iOS/Android app to compete effectively, but just how important is it to focus on a mobile website for your eCommerce store?

Below I’ll give some insight into key mobile metrics from and why they’re important.

First up let’s look at the typical top-level metrics of mobile visitors vs desktop visitors for the last 6 months.

Total mobile device traffic vs desktop traffic

Total mobile commerce traffic

Total mobile vs desktop traffic

Above is a GA report of all web traffic from Mantality over the last 6 months (October 2014 – April 2015). From this you can see that approx 60% of traffic is on a desktop device vs 40% on a mobile device. Which means just about half of the visitors are coming via their smartphone or tablet.

Ok, so what.

Well, interestingly a higher number of new visitors (% new sessions) are coming from mobile devices, which means that the majority of 1st impressions that people are having of your website (and brand) is on their mobile device – and as the adage goes you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression. What’s even more interesting though is that the Bounce rates drop and Pages per Session BOOM on a mobile device. This means that your visitors are far more engaged when browsing/shopping on a mobile device than on their desktop computers.

But how does this affect the overall conversion rate;

eCommerce Conversion Rates on a Mobile Device

You can expect these to be low, and even more so in South Africa for a while longer. From the above you can see that the average conversion rate for all traffic sits at miserly 1.63% but it’s the mobile visitors that are bringing the average down from 2.4%.

Why so low you ask?

Well, this comes down to a number of factors such as: screen size, usability, website performance, security perception of mobile etc. However this doesn’t mean that visitors don’t, altogether, ever place an order when they visit your website. It just means that they’re more inclined to use their smartphone or tablet to browse or research and then go on to complete the transaction on their desktop computer.

Your visitors will switch devices constantly. Sometimes over 3 devices or more before a sale is concluded, so you need to ensure the experience is a hassle free as possible across all devices.

Another thing that I found interesting was the average basket value of mobile orders.

Average order value on a mobile device vs desktop

Average order value | Desktop vs Mobile

Average order value | Desktop vs Mobile

Although conversion rates appear to be significantly lower on a mobile device, the average value of the order is roughly 30% higher than on a desktop. So from this I can see that if I was looking for a quick boost in revenue, my time would be well spent optimizing the mobile site for higher conversions – naturally.

Another interesting metric I discovered is that the number of sessions taken before a purchase on a mobile device is significantly higher; which in this case the lower number of sessions being the better.

Number of sessions to purchase on a mobile device

Mobile sessions to purchase

Mobile sessions to purchase

The above illustrates that visitors on a mobile device are far more inclined to make a purchase on the 1st session than desktop users. As sessions are measured separately across the different devices this could mean that visitors have viewed particular products on their desktop and then chose to complete the purchase on their mobile.

This could happen as a result of work computers being used and people not entirely comfortable submitting their personal/card details via what they deem an unsafe PC, or a PC that isn’t theirs. Or it could be a matter of convenience and their tablet/smartphone was the most handy device.

Which begs the question: what mobile device are people using to buy online with in South Africa.

 What mobile devices are being used for ecommerce purchases?

Which mobile devices are most popular for mobile commerce

Which mobile devices are most popular for mobile commerce

Not surprisingly Apple devices lead the way, with Samsung coming in at second place. What is slightly concerning from the above is that non-Apple/Samsung devices have an unusually high bounce rate (and low amount of pages per session) which could mean that the website doesn’t render correctly on these devices or causes an issue – and is something to investigate.

It must be noted that these metrics are not with a native smartphone app, and are derived from a mobile website generated with a HTML5 and Javascript. It has been noted that conversion rates can be 2-3X higher on a native app over HTML5 mobile websites.


Mobile represents a significant amount of traffic to your ecommerce store, and although the conversion rates are a fraction compared to desktop traffic, each bolster the other. Your visitors are experiencing your brand on multiple devices, and sometimes at the same sitting, so you need to ensure that the experience is a good and consistent one across all devices.

Native smartphone apps can be expensive to implement so at the very least you should be focusing on a HTML5 and Javascript enabled mobile website that renders correctly across all the different devices your visitors will be using.

Interestingly from above we can see that basket values are significantly higher for mobile transactions which is a huge incentive to spend more time on your mobile strategy, and mobile conversion rates, and something I will be doing in the weeks to come.

Google has hinted at a separate mobile website index as a by-product of their upcoming mobile update. So take the test and make sure your website is mobile friendly.

DIY Mobile ecommerce app creators:

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Mr Mantality

Mr Mantality

Lover of gadgets, men's culture, cool stuff, Earl Grey tea and all things manly. An optimist in his prime. When he's not keeping the wheels turning at Mantality HQ you'll find him trawling the web, and visiting trade shows to find the newest and coolest gadgets. During his down time he's usually with his 2 dogs, on the golf course, cycling or basking in the literary company of Oscar Wilde, Bret Easton Ellis or Martin Amis whilst drinking espresso strong enough to strip paint.

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