An efficient and accessible mobile web presence is vital to ensuring success in today’s retail industry. According to the Holiday Guide for Online Retailers 2013, m-commerce accounts for over 20 percent of all online traffic in USA and is expected to exceed desktop by the end of 2014.
Today consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to research products, compare prices and make purchases on the go. So much so that, mobile sales is expected to account for 9% of all online sales in 2017. Thus, there is no denying that this wave in consumer behaviour can no longer be ignored. In fact, according to a recent Forrester survey, 53 percent of retailers marked m-commerce as a top priority moving forward in 2014.
And if you haven’t been evaluating the performance of your website on tablets and smartphones, chances are that you might be losing out on customers already. Websites that are hard to navigate or slow to load often discourage customers from taking the time to browse through them. Here are a few tips from MobStac on how to make the most of m-commerce.
1. Simplify for the small screen
Most consumers find it difficult to read and navigate a crowded webpage or app on their mobile device. To avoid this, take care not to include any redundant text or unnecessary graphics on the mobile website. It is highly crucial that you keep things simple and consider the usage scenarios of your users while designing the mobile website.
How to do this:
a) Display fewer products per page
Product pages with complex layouts often leave consumers frustrated. Especially when they face a lot of difficulty to accurately tap on the small target areas provided by such pages. You can avoid this by going for a simple layout.
Dune London, a fashion retailer in bags and shoes, for instance has a brand mobile website wherein larger images and text on the web page make for a more readable and clickable experience on small screens.
b) Make filtering easier
Due to smaller screen sizes, mobile stores often require advanced filtering and sorting tools to keep your product pages better organized. Most shoppers come to a mobile website with the intention of browsing through the options before choosing a product. Simple and effective filtering tools make it much more easier for customers to find products that interest them and thus help improve conversion.
c) Use progressive enhancement
Progressive enhancement lets you display detailed information as and when users request for it. For example, Home Depot, an American retailer for home improvement products employs a similar clever UI to display specifications, reviews and other information directly on the product page as the user asks for it. Further it also helps them avoid long pages by letting users close each content section by clicking on the corresponding triggers. Meanwhile ensure that you display the most crucial information such as product description and price on the first screen itself.
2. Make checkout easier
While most customers prefer browsing on their mobile to research on products, they often find it to be too much of a hassle to pay by mobile. In fact 41% of consumers said they had abandoned an online order due to hidden charges at checkout. And while 29% of consumers cited mandatory registration as one of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment, 10% of consumers said they found the checkout process too lengthy.Thus optimizing your mobile checkout process can be an effective method of capturing impulse and repeat shoppers.
How to do this:
a) Offer alternate payment methods
Even with the smoothest checkout process, entering credit or debit card details can be a pain. Offering alternative payment methods on your mobile site allows customers to save on time by letting them skip the billing, shipping and card entry steps.
For example, Home Depot, a popular online retailer uses this to their advantage by letting shoppers speed up their checkout process by opting for Paypal to automatically populate their existing payment information. Other alternative payment methods that you could offer include Google Wallet, an option that is now growing in popularity partly due to the quick adoption of Android smartphones among consumers.
b) Save the customer’s shipping address
Having to retype their address all over again annoys most customers to the core. You can avoid this by giving them the option to choose the same address for both shipping and billing. That way your checkout process will have fewer fields, making it easier for your customers to place an order. Further it also helps them reduce the risk of misspelling their address by not asking them to enter it twice.
c) Show checkout progress
Consumers prefer to be informed on the status of their checkout process. You can use progress bars to visually represent this as done on the website of Under Armour, an American Clothing Company. This popular online retailer employs a simple progress bar to help alleviate any purchase anxiety among consumers.
3. Optimize load time
74 percent of consumers said they will abandon a website if it takes longer than five seconds to load. Today it’s not enough to just have a mobile optimized website, optimizing its performance level to meet consumer expectations plays a crucial role too. Moreover if your website makes more than $100,000 in sales per day, a mere one-second delay in downloading time can cost your business more than $2.5 million per year.
How to do this:
a) Optimize images
When it comes to running an online store, rich product images are not optional. They can inspire, persuade and even help you make you a sale. Most customers prefer to check out the image gallery to get a visual sense of the product before making the purchase decision. That being said, it’s very important that you optimize these rich media assets to load fast and easy on a mobile device. This can be done by compressing the image file to the smallest possible size within your required quality range.
Similarly selecting the best file type can have a significant impact on image file size too. For example, JPGs are best suited for photographic images while PNGs are best suited for simple images with few colors or for images using transparency. 24-bit PNGs are best suited for images containing both photographic elements and simple graphics.
Another major problem is that Images with higher resolutions take longer to load on a smaller screen. You can avoid this by offering lower resolution images that are more compatible with smaller screens without affecting image sharpness.
b) Cache images
Every time a visitor loads your mobile website the image files, Java files and CSS files of your web page load as well, thus taking up a lot of page load time. You can use the HTTP caching system on your website to cache these file resources or save them in the browser or proxy. That way when the web page is accessed from the same browser again, it allows these files to be retrieved from the cached files rather than downloading them all over again from the network. Moreover, by optimizing the caching system of your website you also tend to reduce the bandwidth and hosting costs on your site.
c) Use a CDN
A content delivery network ( CDN ) is a large distributed system of servers placed at multiple data centers across the internet. Major part of the loading time of your website involves waiting for files to download. You can use a CDN to reduce the load on your server by locating these files on the server nearest to your visitor and rendering it from there. This gives your visitor a very fast web experience by reducing the load time of your mobile website to just a few seconds. You can even combine it with hosting in the cloud to give your visitors a steady and reliable website performance.
M-commerce sales already account for nearly a quarter of all online sales. And as more and more customers get their hands on these mobile devices, the importance of leveraging them as a way to engage your customers also grows. Follow these tips to improve your mobile presence and offer consumers the mobile shopping experience they have come to expect.