Mobile commerce or M-Commerce is rightly regarded as one of the hot topics right now. The potential reach of your website and other online marketing materials has gone up exponentially. Your window of opportunity is no longer limited to the small amount of time that people sit in front of their computers at home or on their lunch break at work. Your customers and potential customers can learn about and buy your products anytime, night or day. That means they can be shopping in your online store when they are waiting in line for the bus or maybe sitting in their favourite café.
According to a recent study, 61% of people in the US have a smart phone* and the number is thought to be similar in the UK and Ireland. This tells you how pervasive the smart phone is and how important mobile commerce is….
However with any new shift in technology, there is a huge dispersion of opinion on how effective mobile commerce will be. While some believe that it will be a total game changer for the world of eCommerce, others are not so sure and believe that the limitations of screen size will always be a drawback. We are not in the prediction business and cannot extrapolate out trends into the future. We would however like to share with you some of our experiences thus far.
Our clients are happy that their customers can access their websites in more places. However what they are really interested is in driving more sales. Overall we have observed the following:
- Most of our websites are getting between 20-50% of their visitors from their mobile phones (excluding tablets)
- And they are getting 5-15% of their orders from mobile phones
As you can see there is huge activity on mobile devices but the conversion has lagged behind. As we have mentioned elsewhere on this blog, lower conversion on mobile devices may not be a huge issue if the mobile devices are helping to drive conversion elsewhere. This can be measured with Universal Analytics.
Even if the lion’s share of your sales come from a larger device or offline, it does make sense to optimise your mobile site for sales. It goes without saying that the screen of a mobile device is smaller than a desktop or tablet device. The above-the-fold area on a desktop website is sacrosanct with a huge proportion of users never scrolling down. However smart phone users have become more accustomed to scrolling down through pages using touch screens. This goes some way to make up for the small screen size. With that in mind here are a few tips that we have for improving the conversion of your mobile site. Remember you only have a few seconds to spark that interest before the mobile user clicks away to the next site.
- Keep everything very simple. Complicated graphics are unnecessary and will adversely affect load times. Browsers simply will not have the patience to have to wait for ten or twenty seconds for a site to load.
- Keep text input fields to a minimum – a mobile device is mostly about scrolling. Mobile users do not want to enter large amounts of text. The reason that Twitter has been so successful is because Twitter is based on short, sharp messages.
- Have your store locator in a primary place on your mobile site. Many people may be visiting your site because they are travelling and looking for directions to your physical store.
- Have collapsible navigation. You will not be able to display huge volumes of text or images on each page. Therefore you need to have sensible pathways for users. Your navigation should be like branches on a tree with a few major navigation bars that open out into sub-sections depending on which branch you follow.
- Have more landing pages for specific items. Here is a simple equation for you.
Relevance for your visitor = Results for you in increased sales
The more relevant you can make the first page your visitor sees the better. That means that you may need quite a few landing pages to capture the different ways that traffic reaches your mobile site. It will pay to examine where the highest converting traffic is coming from and to cater for their needs.
We can see that our clients are definitely benefiting from having us developing sites that are designed for mobile commerce. If we consider the objective of the Coca Cola company over previous decades was to have a can of coke within an arm’s reach. That meant huge amounts of money to install vending machines in offices and other public places. Now your website is achieving the same goal for an infinitesimal fraction of that cost. While it is true that not everyone will always be looking to buy from your mobile site, you can increase the effectiveness and move them along the path with a good mobile site.