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7 Reasons Your Mobile Site Isn’t Converting So Well

Traffic from smartphones continues to increase for most online stores.  But the conversion rate remains much higher, typically, for desktops and tablets.

Traffic from smartphones continues to increase for most online stores.  But the conversion rate remains much higher, typically, for desktops and tablets.

Most online stores are seeing more traffic from smartphones. But desktops and tablets still generate higher conversion rates. In 2016, mobile page views surpassed desktop for nearly all websites. While mobile conversions have been slowly increasing, desktop still rules when it comes to capturing big sales — volume and average order value.

Here, in no particular order, are seven reasons why.

7 Reasons for Poor Mobile Conversions

  • Internet connections are usually faster for desktops, which means web pages load quickly on home and office computers, especially for hardwired connections. Public Wi-Fi connections are on the rise, but so are the people who use them. And data carriers are still trying to figure out ways to serve those customers.
  • Bigger screens allow for more defined details on navigation, search, and menus. Most menus are, by default, collapsed on smartphones, which means shoppers have to tap to see all the categories and filters. This makes it easy to miss key menu items. Larger screens also make for better zooming.
  • More products per page on categories and search results help convert. The maximum number of products per row on a smartphone is two, typically. On desktops, web pages can typically display 4 to 6 products horizontally. The ability to display several products on a single screen increases the chance of a sale; if shoppers don’t like the first two items, they may see something else that interests him. On smartphones, this requires scrolling.
  • Desktop browsers have a more standardized way of fetching and delivering content. Smartphones manufacturers are trying to find the best ways to handle the content load. Some are better than others. For example, certain mobile devices require a cache dump for users to continue surfing their favorite websites or completing recurring tasks. This can be problematic if the user (i) doesn’t understand what’s wrong and (ii) doesn’t know how to clear the browser’s cache.
  • Mobile devices run out of space more frequently. According to Remo Software, a producer of tools for mobile devices, 90 percent of smartphones have no more than 32 GB of storage. More than half of them run out of space due, mainly, to photos and videos. The “out of space” interruption can prevent ecommerce sales.
  • Many mobile sites maintain a desktop-style design. Experienced website designers and developers have difficulty optimizing for mobile. Simply put, mobile site design is comparatively new. The transition from desktop to mobile has been cumbersome. (Contributor Charles Nicholls’ piece, “3 Ways to Narrow the Mobile Commerce Gap,” is a must-read.)
  • Mobile device users have more distractions. Smartphones make it easier to find information on-the-go. But they have distractions in the form of notifications, tone alerts, and text and other messages, such as from Snapchat.

While we cannot combat every issue that causes mobile shopping sessions to convert less, there are steps we can take to decrease the impact.

Start with the user experience. Here are my priorities.

UX Priorities

  • Speed and performance. The best way to kill a potential sale is to serve up a slow site. Use proper tools to compress images, scripts, CSS, and HTML.

No matter the platform, every web page must load multiple server requests — text, media, scripts, processes, and third-party tools, such as shipping calculators and personalization platforms. The more requests, the more time it takes to load the page. Don’t let page size alone fool you. A heavier web page with fewer requests can load faster than a smaller one with more requests.

  • Optimize category and search results. Find ways to fit product thumbnails into two columns to minimize scrolling.
  • Allow for cross-device shopping and persistent carts. This allows shoppers to pick up where they left off on the same or different device.
  • Implement clear calls-to-action as well as user-verification actions. Confirming that a user has successfully added an item to the cart is as important as the add-to-cart button. Don’t leave a shopper guessing if the process worked.
Pamela Hazelton
Pamela Hazelton
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