What do mobile users see when they visit your business's website?
Forrester Research reports that e-commerce sales will pass the $200 billion mark this year, and market analysts believe that mobile payments will surpass $62 billion by 2016. With more shoppers relying on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, every business with a serious e-commerce component needs to provide an optimized mobile experience.
Figuring out exactly what constitutes an "optimized" experience is a bit tricky. At this point, there are few widely accepted rules for mobile development.
Many e-commerce designers offer a basic "bigger buttons, simpler navigation" approach, but this often yields a mixed response from customers. Mobile shoppers are savvy and careful--some research suggests that mobile users convert at half the rate of PC users--and creating a mobile website isn't as easy as changing a few buttons and fonts.
Mobile users are an entirely different type of consumer, and businesses that recognize this fact stand a better chance of developing market share. For example, the values of an iPhone shopper are markedly different from those of a desktop user; the iPhone owner might prefer the speed and convenience of a single-page site design, and intuitive additions like rotating, controllable product pictures could greatly improve the chances of a sale. If the mobile site echoes Apple's simple aesthetic, the users might feel more comfortable making purchases.
Mobile websites should be customized, filled with fresh content, and developed specifically for different mobile platforms. While iPhone and iPad users make up about 80 percent of e-commerce traffic, savvy businesses develop websites for Android and other operating systems. While this means catering to a smaller user group, it can result in more conversions and provide an important competitive edge. Some market analysts suggest that the gap between iOS and Android devices will shrink over the next few years, and businesses that take a multi-platform approach will see results.
Ideally, mobile websites and apps should always have a seamless design that delivers clear product information and a simple sales process. The entire mobile experience should be designed from the ground up, utilizing social media tools and smart research-driven design choices to capture the attention of the fast-growing mobile market.
This isn't as heavy of an investment as some business owners might think. Mobile site and app design is a smart place to spend money, and an experienced e-commerce agency can deliver powerful results while staying within a budget.