As the trend of mobile commerce continues to gain momentum, numerous brands have been “left in the dust” due to the unwillingness to cater to new technology.
Mobile optimization was seen two years ago as a “nice to have” line item, but has now turned into potentially the leading area of focus for marketing directors globally.
At Trinity Insight we have seen massive mobile growth (tablets/phones) with our clients, as overall mobile visit penetration increased globally to 52.7% in 2015. However numerous clients saw conversion rates within the overall eCommerce channel drop as mobile traffic converted substantially lower than desktop sessions.
One could infer that conversion rates on mobile will inherently be lower due to the propensity for users to buy at a lesser degree on a phone. If this is true, then why are eCommerce leaders like Amazon converting at levels that are near or exceeding their desktop interfaces?
This paper examines the best practices that an eCommerce business should consider to advance and improve their mobile efficiency. It factors mobile usability, omni-channel considerations, and potential technology issues.
Mobile Is Unprecedented in Speed and Scale
No medium has ever seen this growth, this fast.
Mobile commerce and its associated applications has gone from being a “luxury” to being a “necessity”. To stay competitive within both B2C and B2B environments, your enterprise must offer brand touchpoints configured to user devices. The data speaks for itself as to the current mobile state of the union
- 50% of all U.S. adults own a tablet or e-reader, up from 29% two years ago, according to Pew Research.
- Sales from tablets and smartphones are 30% of U.S. ecommerce in 2015 according to Internet Retailer. Compared to 2014, where sales from those devices were only 24.6%.
- 2 Billion smartphones and 840 million tablets are currently being used globally in 2015 (eMarketer).
eCommerce Lagging Behind Mobile Adoption Rate
Interestingly even with these growth rates, eCommerce businesses are not presenting their brands in configured stores, leveraging the unique strengths of each device.
Some large and mid-market retailers are late to execute their mobile strategies, providing a clear opportunity for smaller retailers who want to capture market share by offering a superior mobile experience.
Clearly for these brands, the time to act is now. No longer can a mobile experience be pushed down the project list. A business must invest in constructing a dual- approach; offering a standalone app when appropriate, and do so in conjunction with a fully functional mobile configured website, preferably with a responsive design.
Mobile State of the Union
How does your site stack up?
When looking at mobile eCommerce, brands can really be lumped into one of the following classifications
- Your native website renders on all channels
- You serve a mobile sub-domain (ex:m.yoursite.com)
- You serve a responsive design (ex:www.yoursite.com)
Clearly rendering a native version is a less than optimal approach and should be avoided at all costs. A native version will never convert to its potential.
Mobile sub-domains are typically provided by third party vendors who manage an online catalog via a proprietary content management system and deploy the catalog as “software as a service”.
The advantages of these systems is that they are fast to market and provide an outsourced option to managing the mobile business infrastructure.
The downside of an external mobile subdomain is that it gives the business two systems to manage and is not advantageous for organic search. This equals extra work in managing your catalog, merchandising efforts, and promotions.
Responsive Web Design
Responsive design is the path for which large progressive retailers are taking in regards to their mobile websites.
Using CSS media queries to provide a custom site for user viewing sizes, responsive design allows an eCommerce business to configure and manipulate page grids to render perfectly.
Responsive design allows a business to manage one code base, publish only one set of URL’s to Google, while eliminating a line item of hosted software within a budget.
Leveraging User Trends
Constructing your experience to maximize device strengths
Inherently, as brand marketers, we want users to take the same actions on our mobile sites that they would on our desktop versions. The desired end game within a mobile session is a conversion, or a purchase. Move the bottom line.
However, mobile visitors however may come to your eCommerce store with no purchase intent whatsoever. It is vital that you present alternative interaction points to capture user data for future marketing efforts.
Users frequently just come to learn more about your brand and your product assortment. Since this is often the case with your inbound mobile traffic, evaluate your current mobile website and identify if you are presenting the following functionality in an effort to maximize value.
Store Finder With Map Integration
In the scenario that you are a store based retailer, this is absolutely vital for not only your standalone application but also your mobile website. This needs to be prominent within your mobile eCommerce template and provide large fields to accomodate for the girth of fingers for optimal usability.
Store finder functionality should have direct integrations with iOS and Android mapping applications to allow users to quickly gain “door to door” directions if desired within their phone navigation applications.
Email Capture And SMS
Sign up functionality should be prominent within the user experience and potentially overlayed within the existing interface using a technology such as JQuery. This will ensure that the user consistently sees the option to sign up for specials and content has a quick jump point to the interaction and goals with one touch of the finger.
Advanced retailers should consider SMS as a marketing vehicle for users who desire text based communications, and can acquire these opt-ins via mobile websites. Remember though, this outbound messaging needs to either offer specials, or some type of promotions to provide user value.
Saving & Easy Registration
Users will browse your product catalog within your mobile channel but the micro- conversion of adding to cart will likely be at a lower ratio than your desktop sessions.
To still derive value from these visits allow a user to easily save these items for later through a streamlined and mobile friendly registration process.
The key with mobile registration is to present as few fields as possible. These fields must be as large as possible to be present without scrolling and should only include the options for name, email address, and password.
Thinking About Your Users
It’s a brand new ballgame with touch interactions
In reviewing hundreds of websites per year in our activities, potentially the biggest area of deficiency within mobile commerce deployments is the lack of planning and proper design for touch/swipe user actions.
Ensure mobile success by considering the following into your mobile user interface:
Navigation menus and interactive areas should avoid hover
Many fly-out navigation systems are constructed so the user will hover over the desired item to interact with that particular navigational element. This can present a rather large usability problem for users as there is no hover event on the tablet. The effort your team has put into your current navigation system is now not only going unused, but is most likely also causing visitors, potentially customers, to leave your site.
When approaching this from a phone/tablet user perspective, change the expanding events to fire on click, rather than on hover. The (slight) downside to this is that it will negate the use of the anchor generally assigned to these menu elements, but will make the experience much more fluid for your visitor.
The Interaction Sweet Spot
Create space that invites use and reduces fear of accidental interaction
As a rule of thumb (or finger), we’ve defined the minimum ideal interaction as approximately a 50px by 50px area with a minimum of 10px margin. This defines an area to press or tap, special attention should be paid to secondary or additional interactions, especially to the south, as our fingers span a vertical space perpendicular to the page.
Be cognizant of the area directly below your actions
When stacking user interactions in mobile, choosing a location that is horizontally located is preferred versus approaching the design vertically. Because the user is interacting with their finger going from north to south, the likelihood that they could trigger an unexpected action is much higher. By presenting the eCommerce elements in a horizontal alignment, the margin of error is minimized significantly.
Navigating The Mobile Waters
Avoiding landmines and maximizing efforts
As your strategies gain momentum and executive buy-in allows for budgets to be allocated to improving your mobile commerce efforts, it is vital that your business isolate and address key aspects that can make or break your mobile initiatives.
Be sure to address the following in your mobile planning:
Attribution And Returns
Deriving the right metrics as it relates to mobile spend and returns
Mobile revenue is estimated to reach $12 billion in the U.S. in 2013 (up 62% annualized) and mobile ad spend is estimated to reach $4.6 billion (up 52% annualized). Tracking this data will be a challenge to large and mid market businesses alike.
Without question, mid-market businesses will struggle with the attribution and tracking within their web analytics systems. With most analytics packages being “session” oriented, businesses will have to put forth extra effort to connect the dots to truly understand the overall business impact. New cross-device analytics approaches, such as Universal Analytics from Google, have been constructed to address this challenge and should be implemented when possible.
Ensuring that disparate sessions leverage user intelligence and information
Most mobile eCommerce sites are not integrated with core eCommerce platforms when rendered on a sub-domain. User data, purchase history, preferences, and saved information do not transfer over due to a separate system structure.
As user expectations rise with the further advent of mobile experiences, businesses must provide experiences that are integrated cross-channel (ex. products added to cart after a log in should be on desktop, phone, and tablet). Forward thinking brands will leverage mobile personalization technologies that allow for custom experiences to be rendered at each touch point.
Keep It Simple
Bells and whistles do not matter when they are not utilized
Without question, the most vital aspect to your mobile efforts is that users interact with your mobile website. In order to maximize metrics such as pages per visit and time on your mobile application, your experience must be overly simple.
Too often, competing priorities lead executives to generate a mobile presence that does “everything for everyone”. Rethink your deployment with simplicity as the primary goal and be sure to conduct live user testing to observe user friction points.
About Trinity Insight
We help eCommerce and Internet brands grow faster
Internet professionals turn to Trinity Insight for assistance and execution in growing their web-based businesses.
With locations in Philadephia PA and Rochester MN, Trinity Insight improves client conversion rates and traffic levels through optimization technologies and methodologies.
Operating as an extension of our clients, our analysts, designers, developers, and editorial staff work to drive business results and performance within Internet business and eCommerce.
Specifically with mobile, we can help your business in optimizing your cross-channel experience through responsive design and mobile interface optimization.
About the Author
Craig Smith is the founder & CEO of leading internet optimization agency Trinity Insight. Trinity Insight specializes in assisting brands to drive higher levels of conversion performance with increased qualified traffic. With offices in downtown Philadelphia and outside of Minneapolis MN, Trinity Insight analysts, designers, and developers have worked with leading brands including David’s Bridal, Siemens, Harry & David, Dow Chemical, ShopNBC, and Quicken Loans.