Making the Most of Mobile Shopping: Where Should You Invest?

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Michael Simcoe
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Michael Simcoe
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The rise of mobile shopping really is unstoppable. With consumers getting more and more comfortable shopping from their phones, it’s no exaggeration to say this channel is changing the face of eCommerce.

eCommerce app development more than doubled since 2010, from 7% to 17% and will likely soon surpass PC-based buying according to a PwC Consumer Insights Survey.

Catering to mobile shoppers is now a must for every retail business out there. But it’s not as simple as spend, spend, spend—achieving and tracking ROI from mobile requires a more sophisticated approach.

One piece of the puzzle

It’s tough to understate the sheer scale of the growth opportunity that mobile eCommerce brings to the table. But it’s also just one piece of the puzzle: consumers don’t shop in silos, so retailers shouldn’t operate in them.

Simply pumping investment into mobile isn’t going to cut it.

Because while mobile usage is rising, conversions on the channel remain unimpressive—peaking at around half the conversion rate of desktop sessions in the UK last year (Smart Insights).

Some of that is down to users enjoying a better shopping experience on the more established desktop websites, sure. But there’s another story here.

Improvements in mobile experiences over the past years haven’t impacted these figures, showing that smartphones are more popular as a device for browsing products, while desktop is preferred for transacting.

Smart Insights

That creates a headache for retailers expecting a simple ROI from mobile. Achieving and tracking the real returns from your mobile strategy means having the data systems and the operational set up in place to follow consumers across all the different channels they use.

Ultimately the rise of mobile makes providing a seamless customer experience across channels more important than ever. The retailers who invest in that ‘omnichannel’ approach to eCommerce are coming out on top in the new world of mobile shopping.

But of course, that doesn’t mean your business can’t make rapid improvements in your mobile operations.

1. Make your menus simple

When even 32% of Digital Natives find mobile websites ‘aren’t easy to use’ (PwC), a simple and elegant user experience has to be your first priority.

Start with your menu displays.

Where a desktop user has the luxury of hovering to find out more, mobile users have to commit to a click—so make it crystal clear where each click will take them.

It’s why we recommend going through each item on your mobile menu, and asking “If I had never visited this site before, where would I expect to be taken if I clicked this option?”.

You can also cut clutter with the type of menu you display, explains our own Stephanie Fenton (SEO and Social Media Consultant).

“A great way to shorten menus without losing options is to add in a concertina menu so that the user can narrow down and get to the most relevant page.”

2. Minimise user input

Filling out long forms on a mobile device is a serious chore, and it’s a huge cause of frustration among mobile shoppers. Make sure your website does the hard work, not your customers.

The fastest way to do that is integrating digital wallets and payment services. Thanks to the likes of PayPal and Apple Pay, consumers can dodge irritating data entry and hand over their cash in an instant.

But sometimes there’s just no getting around it. Users will eventually need to fill in a form.

In this case, add all the shortcuts you can—look to drop down menus rather than manual entry, real-time error messages that prevent them submitting an incorrect form, and always provide the correct input method, like a number pad for a required phone number.

Making things as clear as possible for the user is at the heart of mobile optimisation. Just don’t get carried away.

3. Keep your options open

There’s a common misconception in mobile design—that mobile shoppers are always in a manic rush to convert, and they need the minimum possible navigation options.

But like we saw, mobile shoppers aren’t always in a manic rush. Sometimes they’re more likely to be looking for a little research and inspiration from the sofa. (Take a look at your user behaviour in Google Analytics and find out).

Do make your mobile site clean and elegant, but don’t strip out the entire navigation.

Keep the links to research-friendly content like blog posts, featured articles and product help pages so mobile shoppers have a reason to linger. It may not send mobile conversion rates through the roof, but it can make a massive difference to sales across channels.

Final thoughts

Think ‘One Experience’. Mobile is critical to eCommerce success in 2018. Get it right with your optimisation, and your business is primed to enjoy huge lifts in revenue from the explosion in mobile shopping.

But just like any other channel, mobile is just that—one channel. It needs to be seen within the bigger picture of your operations and the customer experience you’re offering. Ultimately, tracking and achieving your true mobile ROI means taking an omnichannel approach.

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