With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping on the horizon and busy shoppers glued to their phones, it may be more important than ever that your small-business’s mobile shopping experience is stellar.
"In this era where almost everyone has smartphones and many have tablets and wearable technology, the world is increasingly connected to online commerce," says Benjamin Hordell, founding partner of DXagency. "An entire retail ecosystem is at customers' fingertips with plenty of deals to be had."
The line between online and offline is permanently blurred, believes Haresh Kumar, vice president of marketing for Moovweb, which specializes in powering engaging mobile experiences. "Customers are omni-channel, meaning the discovery to purchase journey happens on all channels—TV, mobile, desktop, in-store, etc.—but mobile is the only channel that complements all these channels. It’s the second screen and often the first screen for buyers."
The increasing shift toward mobile means the playing field may now be much more level for small-business owners than it’s ever been, Hordell adds. "All these small businesses are now in the same ‘malls’ as the big brands."
André Walters, founder and CEO of Yuno, a social shopping e-commerce site, agrees. "Small-business owners are no longer limited to brick-and-mortar traffic—the Internet allows them a global reach."
Despite the potential for hefty online sales, shopping cart abandonment may be one of the biggest hurdles small-business owners must overcome to experience successful sales.
"A recent study by Statista shows that 56 percent of people abandon their shopping carts online due to encountering unexpected costs at checkout," Walters says. "If you can cut the cost for shoppers, with free shipping and extended return periods, this can help prevent abandonment."
Given the potentially lucrative sales your small business can make through mobile sales, it makes sense to try to ensure your mobile experience is the best it can be for your customers. Here’s how to encourage shoppers to finish purchasing and return for more.
Streamline the Experience
If you had a physical store, you'd want your customers to have an incident-free, seamless experience. The same goes for their online shopping. “It’s important to take their hands and lead them to the top items you’d love for them to buy and then make it as easy as possible to checkout,” says Jen Hansard, co-founder of Simple Green Smoothies. “It’s amazing how convenient and pleasant you can make the buying experience if you approach it from the viewpoint of the consumer. The key is a responsive platform that includes ‘add to cart’ buttons that save customers from even having to visit your online shop first.”
Have an Easy-to-Navigate Checkout
The secret to avoiding shopping cart abandonment and closing mobile sales is providing a frictionless checkout flow that isn’t cumbersome, according to Kumar. “Make it easy for consumers to go from browsing to selection to purchase. The number of checkout steps isn’t important—it’s what you ask your customers to do at each step. Use prefilling fields for information like addresses.”
Also make sure to give full shipping costs before the last page, suggests Jeff Sauro, owner of MeasuringU, a research firm that focuses on measuring and improving the website and mobile experience for retailers. “Not providing the full shipping cost until the checkout page is a major cause of shopping cart abandonment.”
Use Promo Codes
Consider having promo codes available, as customers expect them, Hordell advises. “A key component of online shopping is the experience of shopping and then finding a coupon/offer to apply and see the cost drop. If people can’t find a coupon, they often will not check out. Make sure there is a coupon or offer code accessible on every page and factor these discounts into your pricing.”
Also be cognizant of where you place the coupon code. “Consumers often abandon the cart at the ‘promo code’ field because the customer leaves the checkout flow hunting for the promo code and never comes back,” Kumar says. “Instead, make the coupon field collapsed so that it’s available to users but not part of the direct checkout flow.”
One of the advantages of being a small business with a mobile presence is the ability to be available to the consumer during the buying cycle, notes Samantha Fein, vice president of marketing for Totspot, a peer-to-peer mobile marketplace for buying and selling children’s used clothing.
“For example, our sellers receive alerts when an item is liked,” she says. “Clever shop owners reply or comment on the item and ask if they can offer assistance or answer questions about the 'liked' product, which brings the small-business sentiment into the mobile shopping environment. The best thing a small-business owner on a shopping platform can do is be human and speak with your customers.”
Hansard reports that her business is built around a community experience and thrives because of it. “We moved our commerce site to the mobile responsive platform, Shopify. It was a lot of work to move our products over and learn a whole new system, but we believe it was worth it for our community, as more than 70 percent of our clients are getting to use the platform through mobile devices or tablets.”
Make It Enjoyable
“As people spend more time on mobile devices, they’re using some of that time to interact with shopping sites that give them an experience,” Walters says. “We’re finding that the discovery of products is an entertaining experience in and of itself, and our platform entices conversations around products. If small-business owners can make customer interactions with their products an experience and not just another sale, then they will increase their potential for converting visitors into paying customers.”
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