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Businesses

Buying Stuff On Your Phone Still Sucks (cnet.com) 102

Despite all the advancements smartphone companies have made on the phone, desktop platforms continue to be their preferred way to buy stuff online. CNET spoke with a number of people who not only confirmed that they bought things using a laptop or a desktop computer, but also listed the reasons why they don't use their smartphones to do big transactions. From the report: For now, though, buying stuff on a phone is often terrible, so at least for this Cyber Monday you're likely still buying stuff on a laptop, with its big screen and full physical keyboard. While people are buying on mobile websites and apps a lot more -- up 65 percent from last year -- consumers are three times more likely to complete a purchase on a PC than a phone, according to an Adobe mobile retail report released last month. That's resulted in PCs bringing in 75 percent of retailers' online sales this year, versus just 16 percent from phones, the report said. To consumers, phone screens are too small, pinch-to-zoom features aren't available in mobile apps, it's hard to find things easily, and checkout using that tiny touchscreen keyboard is a pain. When people do buy on mobile, they make smaller purchases than on desktops, Adobe found. Retailers stand to lose billions of dollars in sales if they don't get their act together, Adobe said. And consumers will continue to be frustrated when trying to buy.

Buying Stuff On Your Phone Still Sucks

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  • by DatbeDank ( 4580343 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:05AM (#53377537)
    I'm loathe to do anything other than look up stuff on a small device. Mobile websites and apps are crap with very limited interfaces.
    • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

      ...Mobile websites and apps are crap with very limited interfaces.

      ...and if they had the same interface (and I mean the same interface, not just the same options presented differently), you'd complain that you had to pinch/zoom all the time.

      • Since I have no mod points at the moment. I'll just respond with FLAMEBAIT!

        • by mfearby ( 1653 )

          I don't think the comment above is flamebait at all. I agree with the sentiment entirely. I use my mobile for a few things and only a quick google or two but that's about it. I'd much rather a desktop computer where I can actually see things properly laid out, zoom in, use a real keyboard, etc.

          • Well, they didn't really address the original posters point and they made a baseless assumption. I think that fits closest to Slashdot's Flamebait description "Comments whose sole purpose is to insult and enrage."

      • It's not just pinch and zoom...

        Tell you what - go to Newegg's mobile site sometime. It's one of the better mobile sites for buying stuff, but I still hate using it, so I don't. Besides the mobile site (most typical ones, anyway) often being very slow to load fully (even on 4G with full bars), having to scroll like crazy just to narrow the filtering options down is a raging PITA sometimes. It's a much, much faster and smoother experience on the laptop (even over Satellite Internet, FFS).

        Many mobile sites are

        • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

          * clean up the interface (...more!)

          How? Either you end up with:
          Reducing Options: UGH but I want to do X!!!
          Rearranging Options: UGH I have to scroll so much!!!
          Not optimizing at all: UGH all this pinch and zoom!!!

          • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

            mobile is a compromise platform. These issues cannot be entirely optimized away. When optimal productivity is needed, nothing replaces a good pc with high pixel density monitor.

      • Hilariously, I find myself switching to the desktop views and I don't mind pinching and zooming at all! At least I have the tools I need to do what I need.

        If mobile websites and apps had all of the features available that a desktop site would then I wouldn't be complaining. 9 times out of 10 however their stripped down to the bare essentials which leave me with nothing.

        • I mostly agree, except that if you don't have the tools you need, the essentials haven't been kept!

          Of course, any tool they normally provide might be essential for some users.

          I'm thinking these days I actually just want to run desktop linux on a mobile device, with a good input application.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Mobile websites ....are crap with very limited interfaces.

      And Slashdot falls into that group as well.

      When I use my iPad to read Slashdot I always manually revert back to the desktop site after I have been kicked to the mobile site.

      • I run classic slashdot on all my devices and stay logged in. Slashdot Web 2.0 doesn't have persistent logins across sessions without using the browsers login credentials.

        So I switch to classic login and stay there for me slashdot usage. Oddly enough I find it faster and easier to read even with random scrolls left to right or pinch to zoom to adjust size.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      The worst feature I find on mobile sites is the fact that instead of paging you just keep scrolling to view items.

      Then when I click on something to add to cart and click back I need to scroll for two minutes to get back where I was on the list.

      Why they don't let me load all on one page, or page through the items like on desktop sites is beyond me.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Retailers stand to lose billions of dollars in sales if they don't get their act together,

      And how exactly are they going to do that? What magic wand will solve the problem?

      Here's a radical thought:

      Maybe, just maybe, a device with a 5 inch screen and no keyboard ISN'T SUITABLE FOR USE AS A GENERAL PURPOSE COMPUTER, YOU STUPID FUCK

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Perhaps retailers want to try selling to people who can afford their products but not "A GENERAL PURPOSE COMPUTER" or a separate Internet access subscription therefor [slashdot.org], or people who are on the go but don't want to carry a big heavy bag whose design screams "THIS IS A GENERAL PURPOSE COMPUTER; PLEASE ROB ME". Over the course of my present job alone, I've seen coworkers in both categories.

        • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          Well, then they can quit obfuscating the information that consumers want. It would save them from the researching that requires "A GENERAL PURPOSE COMPUTER" to accomplish efficiently. (good luck with that)

  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:07AM (#53377551)
    Their mobile app rocks and is highly responsive (I mean in the way it provides up-to-date / real-time pricing info on auctions you are watching, not regarding UI design), which is critical when an auction is ending. It keeps people from being chained to a desktop PC, which in and of itself makes it worthwhile.
    • Except for the part where it refuses to remember your search preferences, hoisting the entirely useless "all listings" + "best match" search order upon you, again and again. The previous major version of the eBay app was much better in that regards, and they took out default sorting options with the current version.

  • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:07AM (#53377553) Homepage

    The experience I had at a retail shop was that tons of people would browse on the iphone using mobile web but nobody would buy there. People would buy on the desktop web, but when given the choice of buying through the app instead of the mobile web (which included a much easier checkout flow with card scanning or applepay/paypal options) they definitely were more than willing to purchase on their phones. The conversion rate for the app was considerably higher than even the desktop web conversion rate (far fewer casual browsers).

    I think its possible to get people to buy on their phones but it has to be seamless and typing into web forms is not desirable.

    • I think its possible to get people to buy on their phones but it has to be seamless and typing into web forms is not desirable.

      Agreed. The only companies I've seen get mobile purchasing to a good approximation of right are Amazon, Apple and Starbucks. Pretty much every other mobile purchasing experience I've had has been needlessly annoying and/or difficult. There may be a few others doing it well that I haven't dealt with but most seem to be stuck in the 1990s with their purchasing "experience" and shopping carts.

      • As I understand it, by "shopping cart" you're referring to the model in which the store assigns a randomly assigned identifier for a multiset of products that a user is considering buying, and then once the payment is approved for those items, they are moved to a new order. You are correct that this model became popular in the 1990s. But your use of "stuck" as well as "needlessly annoying and/or difficult" implies that there's something wrong with the "shopping cart" model. What has obsoleted it? The "1-Cli

        • But your use of "stuck" as well as "needlessly annoying and/or difficult" implies that there's something wrong with the "shopping cart" model. What has obsoleted it?

          There is nothing wrong with the shopping cart concept per-se. The problem is that most of them are terribly clumsy even on a desktop computer. On a mobile device they are nigh unusable. Especially if it is with a company you do not regularly do business with. I should almost NEVER have to enter my home address, shipping address, or payment info to make a purchase on my phone or tablet. Guest purchases should be almost as easy as purchases with companies you regularly do business with. Shockingly few c

          • So companies should partner with a transaction processor so that they do not have make a new account for a one time purchase. [...] Pick your favorite among the various top 10 or so options.

            And have half your customers leave because "your favorite" happens not to coincidentally match theirs. A user tries to check out, and the site accepts PayPal and credit cards, but entering credit card payment credentials is too cumbersome, and the user has been a victim of a PayPal hold [paypalsucks.com].

            • And have half your customers leave because "your favorite" happens not to coincidentally match theirs.

              Did you give it a moment's thought? Vendors don't just have to work with one transaction processor. If they used ApplePay, Android Pay, and Paypal they could easily cover most of the popular options. Visa, Amazon, etc wouldn't be hard either. Companies that can't be bothered to give their customers options to make buying easy will lose sales and rightly so.

              And I didn't even get in to what a cluster**** it is to actually search for products on many mobile devices. Lots of companies are seriously clueles

              • by tepples ( 727027 )

                How much does it cost to integrate all these transaction processors, in both programmer wages and cost of hardware on which to test? For example, does a merchant need an iPhone and a Mac to test integration of Apple Pay?

                • How much does it cost to integrate all these transaction processors, in both programmer wages and cost of hardware on which to test?

                  Who cares? It's a problem the company building the shopping cart should have to solve basically once. And that company is rarely the merchant themselves. There might be some transaction fees involved but so what? There already are such fees every time you use a credit card and people clearly don't care about that. The alternative is tons of lost sales and customer irritation at a terrible shopping experience. The question isn't what it will cost, the question is why aren't they already spending the mo

                  • by tepples ( 727027 )

                    It's a problem the company building the shopping cart should have to solve basically once. And that company is rarely the merchant themselves.

                    Then perhaps my perspective is distorted from experience in the "rarely", having built shopping cart software for a local retailer several years ago when limits of 3dCart were hurting sales.

                  • The problem is signing up with all of these payment providers is a hassle to small businesses.

                    I build websites for a living. Some even ecommerce. I'm my own sites I only accept payments via Credit Card (through Stripe [stripe.com]), because it's mostly universal by supporting most of the credit card providers out there, and Stripes custom integration while still being PCI-DSS compliant is very straight forward.

                    They've recently rolled out support for Apple Pay, but the documentation was confusing if you use a custom inte

      • Amazon still has some faults.

        1) having to scroll past the products to get to the filters. There needs to be a small button at the top of the product list to display the filters immediately.

        2) trying to get to your account, or tracking page requires scrolling to the very bottom of the page. If you're on the home page, it autoloads more content as scroll and it can get frustrating.

        Not sure if all of their regional sites are exactly the same, but this is my experience with the Canadian mobile site.

  • Never brought anything on a phone, brought quite a bit on a tablet though. Seems the article does not think there is anything between a full desktop/laptop and a phone, which surely everyone on slashdot is going to be puzzled by.

    • Same here. I don't use my phones to do anything other than when I'm away from home. But at home, I increasingly use my tablet whenever there is an app for it. There are apps for Am Ex, Citi, Discover and Chase, so I use those for monetary transactions on my Ellipsis. And the Amazon tablet app for shopping. I've stopped using Windows for doing anything that's financially important.
    • Does the tablet on which you "brought quite a bit" run a desktop operating environment, such as Windows? Or does it run a smartphone operating environment, such as iOS or Android? Perhaps purchases on a Surface Pro or Surface 3 get assigned to "desktop" while purchases on an iPad or Galaxy Tab get dumped in "mobile".

      • Not the GP, but I use my Android Ellipsis tablet for any financial transactions. I do have a PC-BSD laptop that I use if the tablet doesn't have the apps, which I use to go to the website. While I have a Windows laptop as well, I've stopped using it for doing anything financial ever since Windows 10 and their forced updates, where I have no idea which of my info gets out in telemetry.
  • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:15AM (#53377611)
    Not sure about anyone else but I found that tablets and phones were only really good for quick views of things. I can't even be bothered to write email on the devices.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:19AM (#53377629)
    I think a lot of this has to do with the lingering effects of a hundred "don't close your browse / click refresh / click twice" warnings during that critical credit card submit/commit step. They make me nervous enough on a PC wired to a network - I really don't want to see a dropped connection during this step if I'm my mobile device. (So, I may build up a shopping cart with my phone, but I usually wait until I'm at a trusted PC before buying.)
    • So I built systems that use hosted checkout (which is what you are talking about), it's when the payment is not made on the same site but is executed on a page hosted by the payment system provider.

      I can tell you this: with FirstData PSP not closing the browser window is not actually a requirement for the payment to go through, if you do close the window or lose the connection the payment may still go through but the merchant will not necessarily know about this right away, so the way it is implemented is w

    • I think a lot of this has to do with the lingering effects of a hundred "don't close your browse / click refresh / click twice" warnings during that critical credit card submit/commit step. They make me nervous enough on a PC wired to a network - I really don't want to see a dropped connection during this step if I'm my mobile device. (So, I may build up a shopping cart with my phone, but I usually wait until I'm at a trusted PC before buying.)

      As Apple/Android Pay on sites becomes a standard, this objection goes away.

      • >> As Apple/Android Pay on sites becomes a standard

        It'll be many years before I hook a credit card up to my phone. Part of the reason I keep my family on the Google infrastructure is that their app store doesn't require a credit card (and I'm still looking for the first mobile app I'd need to buy), so it would take two leaps of faith to get me to link up built-in payment to my device.
        • For security, NFC with tokenization hardware in your device beats any scheme for securing credit card information on a website, which you have to do to buy anything online.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:31AM (#53377703)

    TFS and TFA both utterly fail to identify or even mention one of the largest issues with mobile devices today.

    Security.

    Forget flying to the red planet to bridge the gap for survival. I could print the number of times we've read the words "root access" regarding mobile device hacking in 2016 and have enough material to build an actual bridge to Mars.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      TFS and TFA both utterly fail to identify or even mention one of the largest issues with mobile devices today.

      Security.

      This. I don't trust my smartphone at all. I won't do anything more critical than surf facebook on it.

      • This. I don't trust my smartphone at all. I won't do anything more critical than surf facebook on it.

        It's adorable that you honestly believe your PC to be somehow more secure, particularly if it runs Windows.

    • TFS and TFA both utterly fail to identify or even mention one of the largest issues with mobile devices today.

      Security.

      Forget flying to the red planet to bridge the gap for survival. I could print the number of times we've read the words "root access" regarding mobile device hacking in 2016 and have enough material to build an actual bridge to Mars.

      Totally agree with you. I've read so much stuff over the years about phone hacks that I am super paranoid about doing anything over my phone that involves me accessing a site I actually do care about having a secure connection to, such as my bank, credit card providers, etc. I control my main PC at home and keep the anti-virus updated and don't go to websites that I shouldn't be visiting if I care about security. I have a lot of confidence that I can connect safely and securely from that PC to wherever I

  • If you're still in the dark ages of mobile internet and try to do everything through a web browser, you're toast.

    I don't do a lot of shopping at all, but the few times I had to buy something from a smartphone, it was a pretty straightforward process as long as I did it through the app. Some apps allow me to scan the barcode of a product to buy more of it. Others let me buy online then use GPS location to find the nearest store to pick it up if I'm on the go. Try that on a desktop.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      How is a locally owned small business supposed to find the money to hire developers to make three different native apps, one for each mobile platform (Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile)? Don't say PhoneGap because that's conceptually the same as "try[ing] to do everything through a web browser".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have no problem buying books on my phone. When I go to Half-Price Books if I see a book that is interesting I just get out my phone and navigate to abe.com, which is a database of many small independent booksellers.

    Last week, I did this to buy a book that H-P had on the shelf for $8.95. A bookstore on Abe had the book for a little under $4, shipping included. Abour a month ago I did the same thing with a book they had on the shelf for $20. An Abe store sold it to me for $3.50, shipping included. I can mak

  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:44AM (#53377809) Homepage

    My laptop broke unexpectedly one day and for several days I was forced to use my phone to browse the web, and use email, while I waited for a replacement.

    It's only until you actually have to use your phone to do serious things, rather than just dicking around, that you realise just how awful the experience is and how much you'd rather use a proper computer.

    • the girl 19 uses her phone but all she does is watch movies and videos and reads stuff. The boy 17 same thing, watches videos when he leaves his desktop. Except for quick lookups for stuff all purchases happen on the desktop and mostly for games or computer hardware.

      Myself I can't phantom wtf I would need that I would need that instant and must browse some shitty scale down website and order that product.

    • Except for making phone calls. But yes, I hardly use my iPhone for anything else because it does suck. My next mobile phone will be a flip-phone. If I need anything else, I'll use my tablet or even better yet my PC.
      • My phone is fine for reading ebooks (when I'm away from my tablet), watching Netflix/Hulu (when I'm away from my tablet), and browsing some websites (when I'm away from my tablet).

        As for e-commerce, I don't even do that on my tablet. NFW will I mess with that on my phone.

  • I do the bulk of amazon shopping on my 5S, with a screen some allege it way too small in this era of surfboard-sized phones.

    I find the app quite useful, I don't have to pinch zoom, I can read the reviews and product info just fine.. even with eyes that can't see clearly without glasses except at precisely 3.5 inches away. I can read this app with my progressives no problem.

    Maybe everyone else's mobile app sucks?

    • Maybe everyone else's mobile app sucks?

      For the most part this is correct. Amazon has a pretty useful mobile app. Apple does a pretty good job too. eBay and Starbucks seem to have a clue. Probably a few others but most mobile purchasing apps and website just suck sour frog ass. They're just terrible. Terrible at finding products, terrible at communicating information, inconvenient to pay for them, and badly designed in general. So guess which ones get the majority of my money when I am using my phone?

  • People buying on the web want to look at pictures, read reviews, do research, price compare, as well as read shipping and transaction fine print etc. You can't (or at least don't want to) do this on a phone.
  • Well, if you're already signed up for a service and you need a practical way to press the "order now" button, mobile apps do the job well. I book cinema tickets regularly and all I need to do is pick film, time and seat.
    Someone else has already pointed out that eBay also works well, so I guess it's a matter of having a solid account functionality, with payment method stored safely in advance of going shopping with your mobile.

    If I wanted to buy something expensive or that needed specifying, searching for m

    • by Altus ( 1034 )

      This is a good point, I bet a lot of people buy movie tickets on their phones compared to desktop. I would bet it has a higher percentage of mobile app buyers than most things but they really do streamline it either by saving your billing info or letting you use alternate payment systems like applepay or google wallet.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Doing most things on your phone sucks.
  • If you thought buying stuff was hard on a cell phone, try doing your homework on your cell phone. You laugh. But I seriously see an increasing number of college students today trying to finish their online homework assignments using their cell phones. Interestingly, usually these are the ones that score rather poorly on assignments. I cannot imagine how someone can possibly think that doing homework on their cell phone is a good idea.
  • Doing anything on a a phone sucks.

  • It is bad enough when I buy something from my desktop/laptop and I start getting tons of emails (to my throwaway email account of course) from every merchant under the sun trying to get me to buy similar products. The last thing I want is for the phone app to give the merchant my phone number so that he can sell it to every call center out there. Order something on your phone...start getting cold calls from shady sellers at all hours of the day and night.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I bought my house on my phone.... while I was out playing golf.

  • ...for people who find web browsers too convenient and secure.

  • Here we are, complaining about crappy mobile sites - on Slashdot.

  • I've made a couple purchases using my iPhone. Fully native apps using Apple Pay are super simple to purchase items (check out Starbucks). However the mobile web (and 'hybrid' apps) tend to load way too many JS trackers and advertising frameworks. It slows things down, causes the interface to jump around, and makes navigation horrible. Stop bolting on all these 'tools' and write some good, clean, well designed code.
  • Update, linking to CNet still sucks.
  • The thing is, zoom works really well compared to scrolling down for navigation and having to change loads of pages, etc. Mobile interface design is better if it's made to work with zooming rather than having a page with jumbo elements and barely anything on the screen. The information density of modern mobile UI design is aweful. You can either design it to zoom well and more more sense when zoomed our normally using the normal browser element, or you can zoom components yourself (click to expand, etc).

If all else fails, lower your standards.

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