The research conducted by Counterpoint last year indicates that we spend approximately 5 hours a day using our smartphones. We devote most of this time to browse the net or scroll social media and other digital content. Today, it’s hard to imagine life with no mobile devices. The revolution that has been lasting for several years now is slowly taking its toll on every aspect of our lives.
Surely, you’ve noticed the evolving phenomenon of mobile devices – people on buses, trams or at bus stops incessantly stare at their phones or tablets. Sometimes, you’re able to spot a single person reading a book or a newspaper, however, such situations are becoming more and more uncommon. Right now, smartphones give you access to everything – news from the entire world, messages from your auntie or friend, photos, blogs, social media, banking, movies, music and infinity of applications. A computer with Internet access used to be the window on the world, whereas now you’ve everything literally at your fingertips, always available and always at hand. No wonder that we perform an increasing number of everyday activities this way – with a smartphone you’re able to reply to an important business email, book an appointment with a hairdresser or do the shopping. And just like e-commerce was a true life changer a few years ago, m-commerce is now becoming such a revolutionary solution.
M-commerce – what is it?
According to some definitions, m-commerce is a naturally separated branch of e-commerce where the main role is played by mobile devices. This category of online sales includes all transactions finalized on smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices. Although in our opinion this categorization is entirely correct, the definition requires certain updates.
Getting to know and understanding modern customers isn’t a piece of cake. The finest AI algorithms from giants like Amazon try to learn about our shopping preferences and create certain cohorts, but as it turns out, each of us is different and can constitute a separate case-mix. It’s worth noting that the era of omnichannel communication with customers forces us to be present and active wherever possible. Furthermore, the borders between individual channels often get blurred. Consequently, limiting your activities only to traditional e-commerce solutions can negatively impact your conversion rate.
Challenges faced by m-commerce
Constant development of new technologies and commerce branches involves new challenges – some of them are smaller while the others require a more serious approach. For quite a long time now, being present in the channel is one of the most crucial challenges. As indicated by the research, the number of customers shopping on mobile devices is increasing each year. It’s caused by a greater engagement and increased adaptation to new technologies, easier online payment methods or popularity of card payments.
Moreover, our preferences display the impact of m-commerce on offline and desktop shopping. Let’s consider the ROPO principle: if potential customers search for information on mobile devices and their experience is negative, you, as a business person, are likely to discourage such users from benefiting from your other channels. As noted by the Chamber of Digital Commerce, only 20% of mobile users don’t care whether stores are available on mobile channels. The remaining group perceives such stores as not tailored to their needs or even unfriendly. When coming across such shops, as many as 68% of recipients can react negatively. This may result in deterioration of your brand recognition – consequently, people will choose your market rivals and you’ll lose potential customers.
The research also clearly proves that the belief that mobile devices are used solely as an opportunity to shop on the go while commuting to or from work isn’t true. As it turns out, the majority of people advocating m-commerce shop mainly at home, when they’re relaxed and have plenty of time on their hands. Therefore, approaching mobile users as busy persons and trying to facilitate their shopping at the expense of usability or access to information may not be the most suitable attitude.
How to prepare your store to do m-commerce?
What if you run an online store but you also wish to mark your mobile presence, attract new customers and improve sales? First of all, it’s crucial to provide users with access to your offer, regardless of the preferred device. This can be done in a number of ways. To start with, it’s worth pointing out that we frequently use the term “mobile website” to denote both a separate mobile version of the page adapted to mobile devices and a fully responsive website that scales appropriately to the device it’s displayed on.
The first type is usually found at a separate address (e.g. m.domain.com). The responsive web designs are continuously gaining popularity and they’ll undoubtedly become a standard one day.
It’s worth mentioning that responsive web design is already bread and butter in the west and Google certainly appreciates such pages more than separately developed mobile versions. However, having a mobile version of a page isn’t a disaster but it’s crucial to follow some rules, especially when it comes to Mobile First Indexing which has been tested by the Mountain View giant for a while now. It’s undoubtedly a good idea to go for a responsive web design as it’ll facilitate further SEO and optimization activities. If you’ve had a mobile website version for some time, it’s definitely worth checking whether it’s up to date (in case of non-responsive designs) and assess its user experience.
Applications dedicated for mobile devices are another solution. More and more services and stores decide to benefit from it. Already every fourth consumer expects favorite stores to have their own apps. The app makes shopping more convenient, as users gain extra control over additional functionalities that can be introduced to the app and whose website implementation would be impossible or troublesome. Moreover, having your own application gives you a wide range of possibilities in respect to marketing automation solutions as you get access to information about products users buy and browse. If you see that someone is in two minds about a purchase or adds an item to a wish list, you can easily engage such a user with a push notification displayed directly on the phone.
Mobile website optimization
There are plenty of factors affecting operation, positions and perception of your mobile store. Today, we’re going to list the most important features that should be borne in mind in relation to smartphone and tablet users. Google shares an approachable tool that provides useful data concerning mobile friendliness of your page: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
It’s a good idea to use PageSpeed Insights to check your loading speed and discover possible problems.
Mobile store design is crucial both in terms of technical SEO and UX. You should aim at enabling the most efficient navigation and making it possible for users to access content that’s of interest to them with less than 3 clicks.
Breadcrumb navigation makes moving between different subpages a piece of cake. Thanks to it, it’s possible to easily go back to appropriate sections or categories you’ve browsed before. This solution is particularly recommended for sizable stores with thousands of categories and subcategories.
When it comes to technical aspects, it’s worth avoiding Flash and other specific solutions that may not work well on all devices used by your potential customers.
UI – User Interface
Keep in mind that your goal is to facilitate operation of your mobile store as much as possible – this includes all the devices, both the smaller 4 inch ones and the bigger 10 inch ones. Remember that people frequently use only one hand to operate the device. Therefore, when designing a website, it’s worth making sure that all the buttons are placed in easily accessible locations and that CTAs stand out from the crowd. Remember about users with slightly bigger fingers. Nobody likes unintended clicks. Provide appropriate spaces between the buttons and make sure that the buttons themselves are big enough.
Due to limited space and text visibility, headers for mobile versions should be more concise. Divide the content into shorter paragraphs. It’s also crucial to select an appropriately transparent and visible font.
UX – User Experience
When your mobile store is displayed clearly and transparently even on the smallest devices and when it’s navigation is quick and simple, it’s worth taking care of additional aspects of interaction with users. When it comes to mobile devices, people appreciate concise forms and a possibility to finalize transactions without setting up an account. Keeping an eye on technical innovations that can be useful for your potential customers is also invaluable. Introducing approachable card or phone payments such as Android or Apple Pay will certainly give your customers the feeling of control and decrease your bounce rate at the stage of finalizing the order.
Already in 2016, Google stated explicitly that pages with pop-ups covering the entire site content on mobile devices will be ranked in lower positions in the search results. If you want to deploy such pop-ups, make sure they’re properly optimized, according to the size or space guidelines. It’s also advisable not to display them right away but only when users browse through a certain amount of website content. Of course, these limitations don’t apply to legally required notifications or login windows.
M-commerce is still bound to change, mainly because of constant updates and modifications resulting from the development of new technologies. Mobile devices are becoming our main tool for accessing content and one day they’ll also become our main tool for shopping. Emerging apps that allow you to take a picture of a dress and then find places to buy it online will certainly be gaining popularity and attracting new m-commerce aficionados. Therefore, it’s worth preparing to serve these customers and handle upcoming changes.