User Experience

Optimizing an Ecommerce Site for Mobile Shopping

Improving how quickly a page loads and how easy it is to use that page once it has loaded might be one of the most important things online merchants can do to help tablet and smartphone shoppers and take part in the mobile commerce trend.

Mobile commerce may have reached between $5.7 and $8.75 billion in the first quarter of this year, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Commerce Department and estimates from an IBM-sponsored study. Although opinions vary, some analysts believe that online sales from mobile devices already represent more than 10 percent of ecommerce sales and could reach 17 percent of ecommerce sales in just the next few years. comScore reported that mobile commerce accounted for 11 percent of U.S. online orders in the fourth quarter of last year.

Given these growth estimates, some online retailers are taking steps to improve the shopping experience for site visitors using smartphones and tablets. What follows are three tips for further optimizing an ecommerce site for mobile.

1. Improve Load Times

Some 66 percent of mobile shoppers reported abandoning an ecommerce shopping cart because it was either loading too slowly or it never came up at all, according to a new report from Jumio, a mobile payments firm.

Skeptical readers will want to consider the specifics of the Jumio data in light of the fact that the company makes payment-related products, since the data would seem to make an argument for Jumio’s own services. Nonetheless, anyone who has used the mobile web is familiar with slow loading pages. So Jumio’s premise rings true.

How quickly the pages of an ecommerce site load — mobile or otherwise — certainly impacts the shopping experience. Consider that Amazon increased its sales revenues one percent for every 100 milliseconds it boosted page load times, according to a 2011 article in Mashable.

2. Create a Finger-friendly Interface

I recently designed an ecommerce site for view on desktops, laptops, and tablets, had the site up and running, and only then discovered that there was an entire section that could not be accessed via a mobile device.

I had been trying to be mobile-friendly, and yet, I had created an interface that could not be touched, only moused over.

The lesson is that you need to build sites and site navigation so that a tablet or smartphone user can access all of the sections with a touch, and that you need to test that touchable interface on many devices.

3. Make your Mobile Site Similar to your PC Site

Finally, make sure that there is a similarity between the site that you offer visitors on a PC and the site that mobile users see.

Smartphone and tablet users want the same rich, desktop user experience in the palm of their hands. They want to be able to find the same features and sections, regardless of which devices they are using to access an online store.

To this end, consider using responsive design that optimizes the site’s layout without hiding features or eliminating content.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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