The nature of shopping has changed. As such, a retailer’s chance to leave a lasting first impression usually occurs at their mobile site, writes Dean Kelly.
Online shopping is now undoubtedly a regular activity for an average consumer, but these days it is by no means limited to a desktop computer.
These days, mobile devices command the majority of our attention surpassing TV and computers. Smartphones allows us to entertain the spur of the moment and ‘on the run’ thoughts on shopping. How many times are newsletter emails viewed on mobile devices first? Or consumer products googled on a mobile device while commuting? Or for that matter, whilst on the couch?
The always-ready-to-serve nature of mobile phones allows online shoppers to start researching for a consumer product as quickly as possible on their smartphone browsers then continue to read on their PC or tablet devices to make a purchase. Thus, your first impression now lies on how your site looks on a mobile device.
With that in mind, here are the Top 5 Considerations When Going Mobile:
1. Timing is of the essence – it is NOW
As most studies currently show the importance of entertaining mobile consumers, why are e-commerce retailers still so slow to respond by getting on the m-commerce train? With Google now part of the average consumer’s DNA, online retailers need to increase their footprint NOW on the rapidly growing mobile eco-system, otherwise they are leaving the gate wide open way for your competitors to become the leaders in mobile commerce.
2. Design for YOUR customers
If you are an existing e-commerce retailer, the good news is your site would still be accessible on most new mobile devices. But the bad news is, your desktop site would be extremely hard to navigate and read for your consumers. This will lead to frustration and annoyance, and it is at this point that many of your customer will give up and move on to a competitors mobile-optimised site.
The basic of designing a mobile optimised site begins from understanding how your current visitors behave and interact on your site. Research is critical. Analyse the traffic on your site from a multi-screen device perspective, how the customers reach your site on mobile device and understand the areas to prioritise in terms of highest traffic from which mobile platforms (i.e. iOS, Android or Windows) and customer’s behaviour on mobile devices (i.e. search versus category navigation).
Mobile optimised site turns converts your new visitors to potential customers, and keeps your existing customers engaged at all times
3. Don’t develop a light version mobile site – retain the features and functionality that is offered on a PC
The goal of having a mobile optimised site is to give the same experience to all the visitors to your site, no matter whether they are on a mobile or on a PC. Rather than only offering a light version of the site, contents and functionalities should be optimised and available for the mobile audience. For example, customers on mobile devices should be able to save their item to ‘Wish list’ functionality and view the products again on their PC. Keep in mind that you should always deliver a positive experience for both new and existing customers on your mobile site.
4. Prioritise your mobile site’s development according to functionality, not aesthetics
A good balance is always needed between features and the look and feel of the mobile site. However, initially the development should be focused on the functionality of the site. From mobile domain, page speed to checkout process. Business and engineering should work together here to understand the needs and decide the implementation options that work best for you. There are three main options on how to serve to your mobile audience, which I highly recommend your mobile site development team spend the most amount of time on to research and then make decisions:
- Responsive Web Design
- Dynamic Mobile HTML on the same URL
- Separate Mobile URL
Once decisions are made on made on these components, there is no turning back, and if there is turning back, it would be a very expensive exercise to do so. So need to get it right first time.
Your mobile launch phase should be based on prioritising functionality. Instead of trying to launch it all at once, which could lead to an extremely long development time – launch in controlled stages. And continuously improve the mobile site until 99 percent of your desktop site functionality and content is available on the mobile site.
5. Continuous Analysing & Improvement
Mobile technology changes at much faster rate then PC or tablet. Thus keeping up with your mobile audience demographic is very important. It would be extremely hard get it 100% right first go. To be successful in mobile eco-system, user behaviours should be continuously measured along with technology changes and site optimisation and improved accordingly. And yes – page load speed does matter… A LOT!
Development of a mobile site should not disregard the basic e-commerce implementation guidelines such as SEO optimised (for mobile), fast page loading, prominent display of contact details, less cluttered design and so on. All e-commerce retailers need to adapt their web presence for multi-screen devices, including mobile and tablets, as consumers are already engaging with your business in this manner.