According to a new report by Criteo, one third of all online retail transactions in 2016 involved two or more devices.

Not only does this prove that the consumer path to purchase is more fractured than ever before – but it could also mean that retailers are only seeing a partial or distorted view of it.

Here are a few more key points from Criteo’s report, illustrating why retailers should take multiple devices into consideration. 

The danger of undervaluing consumers

First, the report highlights how retailers should forgo a device-centric analytics strategy for a user-centric one. Instead of a singular point of view, the latter enables a comprehensive understanding of the entire consumer journey, including browsing behaviour and intent. 

If retailers merely concentrate on behaviour from a single device, they could be missing out on vital information such as at what point shoppers are abandoning their basket, or what might increase the chances of a conversion. With one-third of purchase journeys taking place across multiple devices, retailers could also be miscalculating key metrics.

What’s more, the report found that conversion rates are on average 1.4 times higher from cross-device measurement than those seen through a device-centric approach – retailers risk highly undervaluing and therefore underinvesting in consumers as a result.

Helping to optimise the consumer experience 

So what can a user-centric view give us? In short – greater accuracy. 

Criteo found that consumers actually view more products, add more items to basket, and checkout more than traditional analytics might suggest.

With a cross-device strategy, retailers can utilise this information, becoming better equipped to optimise the overall consumer experience. For instance, in the context of targeted offers and discounts or promoting one-click checkout – both factors that could help to encourage a mobile purchase.

Similarly, the idea that people use their smartphone to research before only buying on desktop should be buried. This is no longer the case for the majority of consumers, with mobile being continuous and ever-present regardless of the device the final purchase is made on.

Cross-device shopping seen in all categories

In terms of retail categories, it appears that no one is exempt from the multi-device consumer journey. While fashion consumers remain some of the biggest adopters of smartphone shopping, all types of retailers are seeing an increase in mobile transactions.

Interestingly, sporting goods has seen one of the biggest leaps, with its mobile share of transactions growing 30% year-on-year, overtaking mass merchants and health and beauty.

Now, as many sports brands aim to capture consumer interest through community management and social media, it’s not unusual for product discovery to occur in spaces other than a main ecommerce site. Take Nike or Adidas Originals, for example. The latter is well-known for driving interest in new product launches through creative content on social.

Apps outperforming mobile browsers

Lastly, with retailers capturing 55% of transactions via apps versus 45% on mobile, Criteo suggests that retailers should invest in mobile apps wherever possible. 

That being said, transactions are not the only reason to invest in them. 

Now, more consumers are using apps in conjunction with the physical shopping experience, using them in-store to redeem discounts, compare prices and read reviews. With mobile playing a role in all parts of the consumer journey – from browsing to purchasing – this means retailers must ensure the user experience is consistent and seamless.

Not only for mobile, of course, but across all devices and platforms.

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For more on this topic, be sure to check out Econsultancy’s mobile research.