[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith Google warning that it’s prepared to drop the rankings of sites that aren’t mobile optimised from 21st April, when it will introduce changes to its algorithm, businesses especially e-sellers can no longer ignore this medium. But how can they prepare for this new challenge and how can they best convert browsers into customers? At Spreadshirt we set out to make 2014 the year of mobile experience and we saw our sales via mobile devices double. Here’s what we found out along the process:
Thinking about our mobile approach first forced us to think about what matters to customers. We had to make really hard feature and communication decisions and have found often that less is more to get mobile right. This has raised the standard across all our mediums. From our experience, in order not to lag behind, e-sellers need to be focusing on four key areas: optimisation, usability, features and payments.
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Despite the recent growth and significant potential in mobile commerce lots of sites are still poorly optimised. The mobile shopping experience must be even more intuitive than on the desktop, so the first step is creating a responsive design for the entire shop. Consumers now expect their mobile experience to be as good as a desktop. This may mean adjusting the shape of the site or making sure images are mobile friendly. Websites that fail to function on a mobile device or deliver a less-than-perfect experience will see diminishing returns.
This issue leaves retailers with very hard business and User Experience decisions on what to leave out of their mobile design. Too many companies optimise their mobile presence, without checking usability and whether the result really has added value for the customer. Mobile consumers on the whole want simplicity because of screen size and download times.
Searching has got to be easy. That doesn’t just mean easy to do, but it should be easy to find what you’re looking for. We addressed this by taking a look at our mobile marketplaces’ search facility. This has now been simplified. Our platform now also includes a Wish List feature, so browsers can save search results and complete the order at a later date.
All of the above is to no avail if the payment process is complex. We made our mobile payment space fully responsive in 2014. Now that all elements of the page can detect and adjust to the screen size of the device, the mobile payment process is easier and more intuitive.
Having a single page check-out is also essential in converting mobile visitors into sales. Clicking through varies pages to put in your address, choose a payment method and confirm the order works ok on a desktop, but is painful on a mobile and discourages visitors from buying. The Spreadshirt single page check-out now meets the highest technology standards in terms of usability and technology.
You also need to consider that mobile devices are relatively new to customers and the technology is rapidly changing. The customer still has a lot to discover about how they like to shop on mobiles and e-sellers still have a lot to learn so with mobile in particular, companies should look to be constantly upgrading.
For us, to meet the technical expectations of our year of the Mobile Experience, we adopted agile development processes, a state-of-the-art procedure to ensure a very fast route to implementation and launch of the feature/service and to ensure its ongoing optimisation.
Mobile is moving away from being just a research tool into a significant buying channel, presenting huge opportunities for us and other e-sellers to increase sales. Mobile sales are expected to rise to nearly 50% of all transactions in the coming years, as customers continue to use mobile devices and companies optimise sites for mobile conversion with better visuals, features and payment options.
From the 21st April, sites with poor mobile usability will decline in the search ranking results so it is now imperative to optimise mobile performance and usability. Mobile commerce will continue to grow with consumers increasingly demanding a joined-up experience between channels. Customers will move away from being content at being able to use a mobile to shop, to wanting to have the same experience across their devices. While this may not require e-sellers to have the same dynamic features across all the different shopping channels, it does certainly mean that there will need to be a consistency in design, communication and functions. The deadline has now been set, are you ready?
Author: Philip Rooke, CEO of Spreadshirt. Follow him on Twitter @PhilipRooke