Mobile shopping shows no signs of slowing down: December 2019 data by the digital marketing software company Adobe shows that the amount of people shopping on mobile during the 2019 holiday season was higher than ever. According to Adobe, which analyzed one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, Cyber Monday broke records at $9.2 billion in sales, with $3 billion of them on smartphones.
“Mobile shoppers are a whole new breed of customer compared to desktop users, and they're rapidly becoming the most important segment of online shoppers,” says Ringo Chan, director of Ecosa, an online bed retailer.
That makes optimizing your e-commerce website for mobile vital.
“We've already reached the point that some shoppers are mobile-only and ignore retailers that aren't optimized for mobile sales,” says Chan. “It's critical to shape the entire online shopping experience with mobile users in mind. Businesses that fail to do so are closing the door on more than half of their potential market, and that number is only going to rise.”
Marcel Perkins is general manager of travel tour company Latin Trails. Mobile traffic is more common for his company than desktop.
“Because of this shift, shoppers now crave the immediacy that only a mobile sales environment can provide,” says Perkins. “For any online retailer, that means if you're not optimized for mobile by now, there's a good chance you won't last much longer in the new decade. Businesses are running out of time on that front if they wish to remain viable.”
Steps to Optimize for Mobile Sales
While similarities exist between optimizing for mobile sales and desktop, certain aspects are specific to mobile. In order to optimize for mobile sales, it’s necessary to take these additional steps.
1. Produce an eye-catching, responsive web design.
Your website might look good on desktop, but if the mobile version is poor, including items getting cut off the screen, you’re going to lose potential customers.
“It’s important to consider that you're dealing with far less screen real estate on mobile devices, and less available bandwidth,” says Perkins. “That means to increase mobile sales you've got to focus on creating responsive designs that include big, bright graphical elements.”
2. Develop quick page load speeds.
If your website takes too long to load, users will move on to the next website, and you’ll lose mobile sales. This can mean a substantial loss in revenue. (You want your website to load in less than three seconds on a mobile connection, advises Perkins.)
Nancy Laird is the chef and owner of contemporary American eatery Restaurant Serenade. In 2018, she was notified by Google that her website was being indexed through mobile as the default, because more than 60 percent of her website’s traffic comes through mobile.
Users will quickly move on from pages that are too crowded and difficult to navigate. Aim for a frictionless experience.
— Rol John, web developer, Hosting Facts
“At that point, our priority was to ensure that every aspect of our website's mobile sales experience was optimized,” says Laird. “Increasing our page speed was our main priority. By properly sizing and compressing images on our website, we were able to increase our mobile page speed by more than 20 percent.”
Laird’s website team also installed a plugin to automatically compress images so that they don't unnecessarily slow down mobile page speed every time they upload new media.
In order to preserve quick page load speed, you'll also want to avoid redirects, adds Marina Mirabal, digital marketing supervisor at Roar Media, a digital, full stack marketing agency.
“Redirects are one of the main reasons for slower page speeds,” Mirabal explains.
3. Ensure easy navigation.
In addition to being eye-catching, your online store needs to work seamlessly for ample mobile sales.
“More than anything else, mobile optimization is smart design,” says Rol John, web developer of Hosting Facts, a web hosting reviews site. “Users will quickly move on from pages that are too crowded and difficult to navigate. Aim for a frictionless experience. Don't add anything that's not conducive to making a sale.”
Perkins suggests taking advantage of any additional site features that make navigation and the browsing to buying path easier.
“For example, use device location services to pre-populate shipping fields or push notifications to deliver customized coupons to regular site visitors,” he says. “Use anything that shortens and streamlines the shopper's journey from browsing to mobile sales, like ‘buy now’ buttons that bypass the traditional shopping cart and go straight to check out.”
4. Use CDNs to ensure speedy, reliable content delivery.
“Another unique problem businesses face in optimizing for mobile is that it's much harder to predict and plan for regional traffic patterns when the users themselves are always on the move,” says John. This is where CDNs (content delivery networks) come into play, he notes.
“A CDN ensures that site assets are always served from a data center that's geographically close to the mobile user,” continues John. “Mobile users aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt and try again later or from another location if your site doesn't work the first time."
5. Use video.
“Online videos are increasingly helping shoppers decide which specific brand or product to buy,” says Mirabal. “This simple add-on increases sales.”
With 5G mobile service on the verge of becoming the norm, bandwidth restrictions will lift, which means video play will take a much bigger role in mobile sales in the near future, believes Perkins. “Businesses would do well to start prepping video content now, so they can jump on the opportunity it's going to create.”
Read more articles on mobile.
Photo: Getty Images