If you’re an e-commerce business, there has never been a more important time to ensure your website is mobile responsive than right now. Online shopping is a booming business. In fact, Tech Crunch recently stated that Amazon’s mobile orders on Thanksgiving in 2016 surpassed 2015’s numbers for Cyber Monday.
What’s more, Amazon reported that nearly 70% of its customers this holiday season bought their items from a mobile device. This behemoth of online shopping isn’t alone in that trend, either. Walmart reported that over 70% of their website traffic on “Turkey Day” came from mobile devices. Target, too, saw a significant increase, with 60% of their Thanksgiving sales made via mobile electronics.
So what do all of these statistics mean for online businesses?
Online shopping is no longer just a desktop experience. A major shift is happening in the realm of e-commerce, forcing businesses to widen their adaptability by improving user experiences across all platforms. It shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise to businesses in the e-commerce industry. After all, mobile devices have grown steadily in use and popularity, with more advanced mobile technology coming out every year. Apps are making the temptation greater and buying easier with features such as one-click purchases.
“91% of mobile users say that being able to access your web content via their mobile device is very important.”
But before we dive into what e-commerce businesses should do to make their websites mobile responsive and universally user-friendly, let’s take a step back and talk about statistics.
Today, the ability to work remotely isn’t a luxury. It’s an expectation. Whether you’re a CEO representing your business across state and country lines or a 9-to-5 office employee, chances are high that you live and work with your phone attached to your palm.
From checking e-mails to managing social media and conducting virtual meetings, cell phones have become an integral part of many professionals’ workday. That relationship doesn’t end after we clock out, either. We use our phones to socialize, play games, relax, read, and stay connected with friends and family during our downtime, too.
To see just how essential your mobile e-commerce platform is, take a look at these statistics:
While this doesn’t mean your desktop presence is irrelevant, it does indicate that a mobile presence is necessary. Ensuring your e-commerce platform is mobile responsive is a vital step to the health and growth of your business. Good SEO isn’t enough. You need to be accessible and easy to navigate from any device—especially tablets and smartphones.
When a website is mobile responsive, it is capable of adapting instantly to any screen on any device while maintaining an optimal user experience. It’s important to note that being mobile-friendly and mobile responsive is not the same thing.
These days, being mobile-friendly isn’t enough. You have to elevate your design to be easy to read and pleasant to use on all devices, regardless of its scale. This isn’t just a matter of resizing your display. Zooming in or out on your current website layout could actually make it more difficult for your users to navigate. Instead, your web designer needs to incorporate automatic adjustments to how text, photos, and media are presented in order to provide easy, seamless interactions. This may require your design to automatically move certain elements around based on the user’s screen size.
To do that, you need to have a strong understanding of web development or an excellent web design business at your disposal. These professionals not only consider aesthetics across all platforms, but the intent of its user.
Mobile users are often more concerned about ease of navigation and interaction than they are about falling in love with your design. They come to your site with an objective, and they will leave quickly if you make achieving that objective difficult. Whether it’s browsing your e-commerce store or making a purchase, you want to make the process as easy as the click of a button.
If you already have a website, then your first task is to test its display on multiple platforms. Consider not only devices but operating systems, too. After all, iPhones and Androids don’t always display websites the same way. Take note of what works and what doesn’t. If you aren’t sure how to analyze your website’s functionality, start with these questions:
Does your website load quickly?
Can you easily and almost instantly switch from page to page or product-to-product?
Do you find yourself having to zoom in and out frequently in order to read text or view an item?
How difficult or easy is it to make a purchase?
Your website should be fast, tidy, adjustable to any device, and easy to navigate. Users shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time navigating to find what they want. Making a purchase should be as easy, too. Design your e-commerce platform to be as simple as typing in their buying and shipping information, then clicking a button—if not easier (See Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering).
Comparing a mobile responsive website to an app is a lot like comparing apples to oranges. It isn’t that one is better than the other. Each one is different, and determining the best route for you is heavily dependent on your business, its objective, and its target audience.
Both native apps and mobile responsive websites have their own pros and cons. As we delve into them, consider how they could help (or hinder) your business.
The greatest benefit of a mobile responsive website is the time and money you save through its design. It’s much cheaper to design or adapt your website to become mobile responsive than it is to create an entire application from scratch. The reason for this is because there’s only one development process, and fewer hoops to jump through.
Applications require adherence to operating system (OS) guidelines and permissions in order to distribute their application via app stores, while a mobile responsive website does not. You’re simply creating a website that is capable of adjusting its display to the size of the screen it’s pulled upon.
A mobile responsive website does require an internet connection, unlike most applications. Every visit to your website will require an active Google search or input of your URL in a web browser as opposed to having your content downloaded onto their phone. Users also may experience slower loading times with a website versus an app, depending on how dense the imagery and animations are on the page.
They also have a tendency to display less intuitive navigation. Think about it. A website is designed to navigate using a keyboard and mouse while apps are created to accommodate small screens and finger navigation. Even if a website fits well on a mobile screen, the nature of its navigation may not “feel natural” on a phone. However, some mobile designs can come close. Make sure you ask about this prior to your design being created.
Ultimately, a clean, crisp mobile responsive web design can do well on a mobile platform. Also, the rise of mobile advertising has made it easy to draw in new visitors to your site. Through social media advertising and media buying, you can target your niche audience and draw them to your site with a strong campaign.
Mobile advertising tends to have a strong ROI when utilized by a good campaign. The ability to narrow down your audience by interest, careers, geographic location, gender, age, and more makes it easy to draw in new traffic. The pricing is fair, as well.
An application has its own strengths and weaknesses. The obvious benefit is that you are always in the pocket of your consumer. When users download your app, they can access it at any time, anywhere. There is no need to search via a web browser for your website anymore. Your products and services are accessible with a click, and they’re more likely to think of you when they need your offerings. They don’t even necessarily require an internet connection thanks to phone data.
Another benefit of apps is the ability to communicate through “push” notifications. These are the notifications you receive on your phone every time an app communicates with you about a new feature, notification, or update. For an e-commerce business, this can mean sending real-time notifications of sales, coupons, shipping updates, and more straight to your user’s phone. A website would have to utilize e-mail communication for this.
You can also integrate features that collaborate with other aspects of the phone, such as calling functions, the camera, or the calendar. This is a great way to create engaging interactions with your consumers. They also perform better because native elements are designed specifically for the device’s abilities and limitations. That means faster loading times and a better overall user experience.
However, with such expanded functionality comes a lot of complexities that are required to bring this app to life across the various OS. A unique codebase with being required for each OS the app is applied to, making it exponentially more expensive.
Ultimately, deciding on which is the best option depends on what your business is looking to accomplish. Apps are perfect for transactional, engaging experiences that turn buyers into repeat consumers. However, a strong mobile responsive website combined with online advertising can also grow your traffic exponentially.
If you’re on the fence about which route is right for your business, talk to the experts.
It’s important to note that you don’t need an app to make your retail website easy to shop from on mobile devices. With the right mobile responsive design and e-commerce plugins, they can provide the same user-friendly quality of a mobile application.
While branding and design are important, make sure it doesn’t impede your website speed. If your pages load slowly, you’ll drop traffic and lose customers very quickly. Making sure your images are optimized instead of using uncompressed, high-quality images. This will help with your loading time. You also want to make sure you feature special coupon deals and featured products clearly on your home page. This will encourage impulse buying.
Second, you want an easy payment process, with multiple payments gateways if possible. This means allowing your users to pay with debit, credit, or other secure channels such as Paypal. Typing is hard enough on a phone, so you want to make your payment and info forms large and easy to type within. Easy sign-in/sign-up forms are a plus, too! If you can make it to where one sign-up offers the option to save your customer’s payment preferences for future purposes, you’ve given them an incentive to come back.
Next, you want to make communication easy. At the very least, have a contact form users can use to submit questions or concerns. Availability gives your business credibility, especially for new buyers who aren’t familiar with your brand.
You can also integrate a live chat feature. These plugins will help encourage purchases by providing shoppers with quick answers that may be necessary to get them to follow through with a purchase. Remember, an e-commerce website still lives by retail’s golden rule: customers come first!
Finally, make searching easy. These days, e-commerce websites are expected to categorize their offerings. For example, a clothing retailer will divide men’s and women’s items into two categories, and then include subcategories for shirts, pants, dresses, blouses, shoes, and more. This makes finding what your visitors want much easier!
While you’re at it, add a search bar. This narrows the search down even more for your users, saving them time and keeping them interested by populating the results they want and weeding out the ones they don’t.
Ready to implement a mobile responsive website for your e-commerce business? Or maybe you want to talk apps? Either way, the first step is to set up an initial consultation with a team that delivers professional web development and app development services.
Vectra Digital is a digital marketing firm that specializes in web design & development. We’ve worked with clients of all sizes to help them not only build an effective web presence but market it successfully. It’s why we are the highest reviewed marketing company in Southwest Florida on Google, with a 5-Star rating left by numerous satisfied customers.
It doesn’t cost you anything to inquire about our services. We’ll take a look at your current web presence or discuss your plans before putting together a unique offering based on your specific goals.
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