Most consumers still avoid shopping online via mobile apps as they often worry they are not seeing the full picture or that they could be missing out on special offers or overlooking hidden costs, according to new research.
Concerns about privacy and security can also motivate people to put items into their shopping baskets but then quit without paying, observed the team from University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England.
"Although mobile apps are rapidly becoming among the most popular ways to shop online, the phenomenon of shopping cart abandonment is much higher than for desktop-based online shopping," the researchers noted.
"Mobile shopping is supposed to make the process easier, and yet concerns about making the right choice, or about whether the site is secure enough leads to an 'emotional ambivalence' about the transaction -- and that mean customers are much more likely to simply abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase," explained Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis, of Norwich Business School at UEA.
The researchers studied online shopping data from 2016-2017 from consumers in Taiwan and the US.
They found that the reasons for hesitation at the checkout stage were broadly the same in both countries.
In addition, shoppers are much more likely use mobile apps as a way of researching and organising goods, rather than as a purchasing tool, and this also contributes to checkout hesitation.
"People think differently when they use their mobile phones to make purchases," said Dr Korfiatis in a paper published in the Journal of Business Research.
"The smaller screen size and uncertainty about missing important details about the purchase make you much more ambivalent about completing the transaction than when you are looking at a big screen," Dr Korfiatis noted.
According to Market Research firm Criteo, the share of e-commerce traffic from mobile devices increased to 46 per cent of global e-commerce traffic in Q2 2016.
Gowever, only 27 per cent of purchases initiated on this channel were finalised and conversion rates significantly lagged behind desktop initiated purchases.
"This is a phenomenon that has not been well researched, yet it represents a huge opportunity for retailers," said Flora Huang, the study's lead author.
App designers can help by minimising clutter to include only necessary elements on the device's limited screen space and organising sites via effective product categorisation or filter options so consumers can find products more easily.