Customers are making more and more purchases using their smartphone or tablet. Here are the best tips for getting a website mobile-ready.Stefan Trebbin and Jan Stöckel
There are many good reasons today for eCommerce retailers to optimize their mobile commerce shop for mobile devices. Search engines such as Google now rank websites lower when they are not optimized for mobile devices. And shoppers make only 20 to 30 percent of their purchases with apps – the rest happens on sites that offer convenient shopping across desktop, smartphone and tablet.
When optimizing your online business for mobile commerce, a few basic things need to be clear from the start: Mobile does not stand alone as an additional sales channel, but must always be understood as just one part, one of many touchpoints along the customer journey. So the user must be at the heart of every aspect of mobile business strategy – their customer journey and their needs at various points in the buying process.
This means eCommerce retailers should avoid the mistake of designing their mobile offer as merely a slimmed-down variation on their existing online shop. The user situation of the smartphone or tablet user must be considered, as well as the technological requirements related to an almost endless number of mobile devices using different operating systems (in different versions). Here are some tips for what eCommerce businesses need to pay attention to in optimizing their shops for mobile devices. Following them may require some effort – but it is well worth it: Mobile commerce offers businesses excellent opportunities to use functionality and value-added services to retain customers and benefit from rising sales through impulse and instant buying.
Use the special features offered by mobile devices that make sense for an optimal user experience around your mobile offer – such as the integrated camera, GPS, widespread communication channels like WhatsApp or Snapchat for personalized offers and effective support.
Small screens and a shorter on-page dwell time require corresponding adaptation of mobile sites: Content and important navigation elements should be visible at a glance and with limited scrolling. This means reducing the length of written content, focusing on the most important elements and designing the shortest possible click trails.
Use cross- and upselling possibilities by highlighting additional content and special offers. Also think about the frequent use of mobile devices as second screens – such as while watching a TV show. For example, invite the visitor to your mobile shop with a call-to-action to an appropriately matched (mobile) landing page with current offers or actions.
Not only is there an unimaginable number of mobile devices on the market, but new ones are constantly being added. Also, most smartphones and tablets run not just on different operating systems, but on several versions of these systems. To ensure a good user experience for as many users as possible, you have to regularly test these devices and the operating systems they use. You should not limit yourself to checking that your pages display correctly in both portrait and landscape mode, but also pay close attention to optimizing functions from the user perspective. Test the following aspects: Can the user complete their task (e.g. checkout) such that their wishes are fulfilled? What adaptations would allow them to do so more efficiently? Are texts and content easy to understand, and can information be found quickly and easily? Where might incentive or reward systems be added to increase “joy of use” in reaching their goals?
It is advisable to conduct real-life testing of your mobile shop on the 20 or so most commonly used devices – i.e. on actual physical smartphones and tablets. This is the best way to see if buttons are visible and clickable, whether click trails are working and if content is correctly displayed. Less common devices and older operating system versions can be tested virtually, to keep the required effort at a manageable level.
The checkout process is one of the most critical points on the customer journey from mobile shop visitor to paying customer. A low-data registration (e.g. via social login), simple and fast payment options (e.g. using PayPal Express or Apple Pay) and one-click checkout are good ways to make the checkout process simpler and more convenient for users. Mobile retailers should also pay close attention here to placing functionally designed call-to-action buttons in the foreground.
Visitors to mobile shops mostly do not want to browse extensively, but have a concrete idea and often use the search function. So an easily visible search field and a smart search function with autocomplete or suggested term features are a must in mobile commerce. The navigation structure should also be as simple as possible, limited to two or at most three levels of hierarchy.
Given that 40 percent of mobile users change shops if they can purchase more easily, faster and more conveniently in another shop with a comparable offer, it is absolutely worth paying attention to the points described above and implementing the corresponding optimizations.
If you want to be successful and increase your sales in mobile commerce, not just today but into the future, you need to constantly anticipate the latest developments and trends. Right now, online retailers should be keeping the following trends in view – and ideally be thinking already about how to adapt, expand and optimize their own offer.
Various online channels – app, social media , online shop – are merging. Users expect a uniform purchasing experience and do not like to move between the different channels. So a purchase in the app should happen as quickly and easily as on Facebook or on the website – ideally with one-click.
The initial big hype around mobile payment has now given way to serious testing of secure and practical implementation methods. Data-protection-compliant authentication and reducing unwieldy input are key areas of focus here. Fingerprint sensors, iris scans and selfie photos are some of the options being tested by both device manufacturers and payment service providers. What is important here is to keep an eye on developments and add the most successful approaches to the payment options in your own shop when the time is right.
Regulating your home thermostat, turning household appliances on and off, having the coffeemaker order your favorite kind of coffee itself or your electric toothbrush stock up on toothpaste: more and more objects will be connected with the Internet in the future. Even if concrete applications are still in their early stages of development today, eCommerce businesses should watch this trend and respond to it early by offering the appropriate interfaces and product suggestions.
Running an online shop from a website alone is no longer enough to be able to ensure continuously growing eCommerce business into the future . Right now, user-centered optimization of shops for mobile devices is an important success factor that eCommerce retailers should be pursuing. Because technologies develop at a rapid pace, it is also important to keep an eye on future trends and be agile in adapting your digital business strategy as needed.