By the end of 2012, approximately 20% of all ecommerce sessions originated from mobile devices — smartphones and tablets. Projections say that level of consumer activity will increase steadily over the next three to five years. Fifty percent of online purchases could be mobile based by 2014, and become the primary conduit for consumer ecommerce by 2017.
The problem for most online businesses, however, is that unlike early innovators, the vast majority have not yet grasped the necessity for an optimized mobile browsing experience. That failure can have dire commercial consequences.
When consumers hit a site without mobile optimization, the chances of their visit converting to a purchase fall by 75%. Businesses with an online presence that don’t jump on the mobile bandwagon will be left in the dust as consumer behavior shifts to this new model of convenience.
Mobile Shopping is About Windows of Opportunity
One of the greatest mistakes online businesses make lies in assuming that mobile users are really just “window shopping.” There is a prevalent, but mistaken belief that people who look at products on their smartphone don’t buy, but wait to go home and make their purchase from their PC or laptop.
That rarely if ever happens. Mobile shopping takes advantage of the small windows of opportunity each of us have in a day to get one more thing accomplished. The harried shopper who can buy a birthday present on her iPhone — and have it gift wrapped and shipped with an appropriate message — during a cab ride will hit the button to “buy.”
People spend their daily lives rushing around trying to cram in as much as they can before the next important meeting or appointment. Mobile shoppers do not delay a purchase for “later” because they know all too well they will either forget or become hopelessly side tracked.
Optimizing for the Mobile Shopper
Providing a viable mobile shopping experience isn’t just about taking an existing website and making it look good on a smaller screen. Just because customers can pinch and zoom doesn’t mean they want to. Often, when enlarging a page, accidental purchases occur that are cumbersome and annoying to undo. Annoying a customer is the surest road to losing a customer.
Mobile sites should be easy to navigate with a seamless path from product description to mobile purchase point. Amazon pioneered the process of “one click” payments for loyal customers. That model gained in popularity after Amazon debuted its Kindle ebook reader.
The “one click” payment route is a worthy model to replicate. Return shoppers who know the product they want, and who have an established account with the retailer, will have complete confidence in the one click structure.
Pair that simplicity and sense of security with high-speed transaction processing at low bandwidth levels, and the combination is tailor made for small devices that operate on data plans. Mobile customers want to be able to see instantly that their purchase went through, and they do not want to be worried that they’ve bought something more than once or been overcharged by mistake.
Using Social Networking to Build Consumer Loyalty
Utilizing social networking and the ability to push notifications to email or to custom apps is also a tremendous advantage in cultivating repeat customers and building consumer loyalty.
Not only can this technology make buyers aware of the availability of products, but it can also be used to distribute coupons and special offers. The right balance is the one between annoyance and the delivery of relevant, tangible value.
The best mobile allies are those people who “like” or “retweet” offers and reviews. In this sense, buyers create buyers. Social networking caters to impulse purchases, which should be easily accomplished on the mobile screen before the urge passes.
The better the mobile user experience, the higher the chances of a sale conversion. In October 2012, approximately 45% of all adults in the United States owned a smartphone, that’s more than 110 million people. What business can really afford to turn away that kind of potential customer base for want of simply providing mobile users with the right platform to make mobile purchases?
Danielle Thomas is a writer for MerchantSeek.