Ecommerce is no longer a trendy buzzword — it’s a primary consideration for businesses everywhere. The new frontier is mobile, and that’s one that too many companies are overlooking. If you’re focusing heavily on your ecommerce efforts but not emphasizing a mobile-friendly experience for online shoppers, you’re doing your business a great disservice.
With mobile devices permeating the households of families with users aged two to eighty-two, it is clear that website owners need to take another look at how their customers choose to browse. The trend is clear: mobile users are searching the Internet from their tablets and mobile phones to research and buy products and services from their vendors online.
What does being mobile-responsive mean in terms of website technology?
Internet technology is changing constantly. If you want to keep up with the current direction, your website needs to be mobile-responsive. While mobile devices allow users to expand standard websites for viewing, websites that are mobile-responsive are more user-friendly. More user-friendly translates to more visits, more interaction and more sales.
If you are not familiar with mobile responsiveness, then consider this example. If a bride is searching for wedding veils, she wants to see the picture and details of each veil before making a final buying decision. On a standard website, she needs to enlarge each page to see the image on a mobile device. On a mobile-responsive website, each image would pop-up at the proper size for viewing. After looking at 50 to 100 wedding veils, which type of technology do you think she would prefer? And this example does not take into account that she also needs to choose a dress, shoes, lingerie, bridesmaids’ gifts and centerpieces. I think you can see where this point is going. Brides are only one small segment of online shoppers. Think of home buyers, new parents or current homeowners looking to remodel. Ease of use is the key to understanding why mobile responsiveness is desired.
Mobile responsiveness is still a relatively new technology. It is not perfect, nor are all of the kinks worked out. This newness is the reason that you haven’t seen every website change over to mobile-responsive technology already. Some of the inherent problems with mobile responsive websites include page load times, cost and limited features. However, even with these issues, mobile-responsive technology is the future of ecommerce. If you are not looking to add mobile integration to your website over the next few years, you are behind the eight-ball.
Page load times are always an issue with online interfaces. The longer a customer has to wait, the less likely they are to use your site. Google prefers that mobile pages load in one second or less. It is also necessary to consider that most customers are limited in their connection times by geography. Cities and towns do not upgrade their telephone connectivity all at the same time. Wifi is not available in all areas of the world, and even where it is, customers access the Internet at varying rates of speed.
However, load times will continue to improve as mobile development improves. Changing over to a mobile-responsive website may also require that programmers reduce the bulkiness of website design by leaving in only the code necessary. This design change is a benefit for all website users.
Cost is always an issue for business. It is important to weigh the cost against future gains. This is why it is useful to seek a demonstration of how a mobile-responsive ecommerce site can increase your conversion rates. The question that you need to ask yourself is not whether you are losing customers on mobile devices, but how many customers are you losing. What percentage of your customers uses mobile devices to connect to the Internet only to exit due to lacking mobile integration? This question takes some study to answer, and it is worth the time to dig into the answers.
Ask yourself not whether you are losing customers on mobile devices, but how many customers you are losing. (Tweet this.)
It is true that limited features are currently an issue with mobile-responsive sites. However, if you examine the choice between providing an app for your customers and a mobile-friendly website, you can easily see the difference in usage. If you are an avid Amazon shopper, you can clearly see the problem. Amazon has had a mobile application in place for quite some time, yet it is not nearly as useful as their website. The Amazon search mechanism on the website is superb. It makes searching for a product easy, even if you are not sure of the product name. The same cannot be said of their mobile app. For Amazon, it is worth dealing with page sizing on a smartphone to use their website instead of their app for the benefits of search alone. That doesn’t even bring into play other features of their website. However, most websites are not nearly as complex as Amazon. As the mobile technology develops, it will become even more capable of adding full-feature responsiveness to websites.
Images are a large draw for customers. This has been true of advertising for a long time, and is doubly true on the Internet. For mobile-responsive sites, image sizes may have to be changed in order to work correctly. Getting the images right is worth the time, since customers like to look at images, especially if they are ordering without seeing an item in person. Details on a lawn mower, for instance, are important when deciding between a higher or lower-end model.
In order to give mobile users proper image size, using the smallest possible size for the best image quality will help. Another trick is to lower the resolution to allow images to load faster for screen size.
The Bottom Line
Whether or not you’re focusing on making your ecommerce site fully compatible with mobile devices, your competitors most likely are. Mobile ecommerce (or m-commerce) is one of the fastest growing trends in the business world right now. Make sure you’re at the forefront and not lagging behind.
What Can You Do Today?
1) Review your website on your mobile phone and make a test purchase. How smooth was the browsing and ordering process?
2) Consider going one step further and testing your site with a third-party browser or device. Some options are listed here. Some are free, some are paid.
3) If you are using an ecommerce platform (eg: Volusion, Magneto, etc.) review their extensions/apps directory for a compatible mobile options for your website.