Mobile Commerce: Why Great Mobile UX Can't Be Ignored Anymore

Mobile Commerce: Why Great Mobile UX Can't Be Ignored Anymore
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Are you still on the fence about about mobile commerce and whether you need to focus specifically on mobile UX for your online store?

If so, you aren’t alone.

As of this past May, almost 50% of Fortune 500 sites were still not optimized to be viewed on a mobile device, neither were almost 30% of the top 500 Internet retail websites. And that’s even after Google implemented its new mobile-friendly update which boosts the rankings for fully optimized pages in mobile search results.

So, why didn’t everyone rush to update or overhaul their mobile commerce experience before Google brought down the hammer of mobile justice in April?

Statistic: Distribution of times spent on retail sites vs. dollars spent in the United States as of 4th quarter 2014, by platform | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Perhaps recent mobile sales reports have made some retailers question whether it’s too early to worry about having a mobile web presence.

According eMarketer, mobile sales only accounted for 13% of overall Q4 online sales in 2014. Still, the same report revealed that “smartphones and tablets accounted for 60% of time spent engaging with digital retail content.”

So, it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

For instance, weak sales could be the result of a bad mobile ux and/or checkout process which can, in turn, impact your customers’ perception of and loyalty to your brand.

Statistic: Year-on-year retail expenditure growth in the United States as of 1st quarter 2015, by platform | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Beyond the fact that mobile commerce sales are growing much faster than retail sales overall (as the chart from comScore illustrates above) and they are forecast to explode over the next few years, there are many other reasons why retailers need begin building a mobile-friendly web presence now – all of which can affect your bottom line, across multiple customer touchpoints.

A Poor Mobile Commerce Experience Impacts Brand Loyalty

Are you not seeing a lot of mobile site visits or app usage in your web analytics data?

One reason for this could be that mobile users are leaving your website quickly because your non-mobile-friendly pages take a long time to load.

Or, perhaps they are abandoning your app because it isn’t working properly and hasn’t been updated for the most recent operating system upgrades. If this happens, those customers may also never return to your site or use your app again. In fact, a recent in-house study by Digital Marketing Magazine discovered that: 

“...nearly half of mobile users have ditched a brand completely following a poor mobile
experience.” And over time, a “negative brand experience will have a negative impact on
your bottom line.”

Likewise, a poor mobile checkout process could send your customers to your competitors’ sites.

So, if only a small percentage of your online sales are coming from mobile users, you may want to refine your checkout process – which according to Econsultancy should be brief – with just a few clicks to complete the purchase. You could also offer customers the option to pay via a secure mobile wallet of their choice like Apple Pay, Google Wallet or PayPal.

The benefit of working with one of these secure checkout partners is that all your customers need to complete their purchase on their smartphone or tablet is their email address and password.


Image via Merkle RKG

Another reason why you may not be seeing heavy mobile traffic in your web analytics data now is because as of April, Google is no longer ranking your pages as high as the mobile-friendly pages of your competitors.

As I mentioned earlier, Google has begun giving preference to web pages that have been optimized for mobile in mobile search results. And since 47% of Google search results are now coming from a mobile device, you could be missing out on many new and loyal customers who would otherwise discover your brand from their smartphone or tablet.

Mobile Customers Want To Research Your Products Online Before Buying

In addition to threatening your brand loyalty, a sub-par mobile commerce experience could deter customers from being able to review your products efficiently and effectively during the consideration phase of their buying process.

In fact, the Deloitte chart below demonstrates that mobile research behavior is projected to have a heavy influence over both in-store and eCommerce sales by 2016.


Image via Deloitte

And according to the Upstream Commerce Retail Intelligence blog

"88% of shoppers say that they prefer to ‘webroom’ or research purchases online and
then buy them in-store.”

Some of the main reasons for this behavior are to “find the lowest price” and “compare product” features. 

Plus, “76% of shoppers say they regularly research products in a brick-and-mortar store
before ultimately buying online (or ‘showroom’).”

Some of the top reasons for showrooming are to “find the lowest price” and to “avoid a checkout line.”

Regardless of whether shoppers prefer to webroom or showroom, almost 60% of smartphone users are referring to retail websites via a mobile device for in-store shopping assistance.

And a Q1 2015 Global WebIndex study shows that “80% of adults who go online own a smartphone (almost 50% own a tablet).” So, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to help customers make their final product purchase decisions – from wherever and whenever they want to do it.

If A Store Isn’t Found In A Local, Mobile Search Result, Will Anybody Shop There?

When it comes to comparison shopping and finding that unique gift at the last-minute, mobile devices and local search go hand-in-hand. In fact, a recent Google study found that

“50% of smartphone users are most likely to visit a store after conducting a local search.”
Plus, “34% of tablet and desktop users will also buy in-store after a local search on their
smartphone.”


Image via Google

There are some important steps you can take to offer a convenient mobile shopping experience and ensure that your products and services are showing up in local, mobile searches.

Some experts recommend offering solutions like a “quick snapshot of your prices on a mobile landing page,” or “a ZIP [or postal code] box to generate a map to your closest store locations.”

Also, don’t forget to include your phone number to any Google Ad Words campaigns that you may be running via call extensions. That will make it easier for customers to call you about local store promotions that you are advertising when they are searching nearby.

Creating Google+ brand and local pages (which can now be merged together) is also an important factor for increasing the likelihood that your business appears higher in relevant local search rankings.

That’s because Google gives priority ranking to its own properties (like Google+, YouTube, etc.) in its search results. But Google has strict guidelines on how to complete a local business profile which you can check out here. To make sure that mobile users find your retail store whenever they’re searching nearby, you can read further about the importance of Google+ brand and local business pages here.

In addition to optimizing your own website and Google+ pages for local, mobile search, you should  pay attention to local review websites. According to a January 2015 survey by Influence Central,

“90% of consumers think the information they get from reviews is more important than
talking to a salesperson.” And “nearly 60% of consumers check online reviews of a
product from their Smartphones while shopping in a retail store.”

So, it’s important to focus on online reviews – not only on sites like Yelp and Google Reviews but also on your own product pages.

That’s because enabling users to leave online customer reviews on your product pages is a great way to source fresh content – something that also helps your website to rank higher in search engine results. Here’s a link to a great Econsultancy article on how to make online reviews work in your favor.

Other Ways To Create Value In-Store


Image via Nielsen

There are many other ways to create lasting value and convenience for mobile customers through in-store offerings.

Long lineups can be a major drag; so many retailers are now opting for mobile checkout solutions, like accepting payment from anywhere in-store from a mobile point of sale (POS) device. Businesses like PayPal, Square and Shopify POS offer these easy-to-use and cost-effective solutions for retailers of any size.

But you can even start with something as simple as offering free Wi-Fi to enable customers to access your mobile website so they can comparison shop from their phones. A Q3 2014 global Nielsen E-commerce survey found that customers are interested in accessing many in-store solutions. However, the survey reveals that only “about one-in-10 global respondents say they log in to store Wi-Fi to receive information or offers (12%), use in-store computers to view extended product ranges (11%) or scan QR codes to access more information (11%). But roughly two-thirds are willing to use these options in the future (66%, 68% and 65%), respectively.” Part of the issue is that not all retailers have rolled-out these solutions to date.

Other popular in-store mobile services that the Nielsen E-commerce survey respondents said they commonly use include: “Online or mobile coupons (18%) and mobile shopping lists (15%), with about two-thirds also willing to use them in the future (65% and 64%, respectively).”

Still, it’s a good idea to have the basics (like a mobile-friendly website) down first before building out some of these other offerings.

Holy Mobile Options Overload Batman!


Image via Pixabay

There are an overwhelming number of options and directions you can take to create a lasting mobile customer experience. So, it can seem daunting to decide where to begin – especially if you have a limited budget or are in the position where you have to “prove the value.”

A good place to start is with your web analytics data.

  • Find out if you have a high mobile user bounce rate?
  • What keywords are mobile users searching for and can they find them on your site?
  • Is your website loading fast enough for mobile users to stick around?
  • Are lots of users dropping off during the mobile checkout process?

Here’s a great checklist and guide to help you get started.

If all roads point to a need for a better mobile customer experience, then your analytics data can help you to sell the need for a mobile-friendly solution to your boss or business partner.

While mobile apps account for a significant amount of a consumer’s time spent on a mobile device, choosing to build a mobile-friendly website first will enable you to capture more of your potential customers who are searching online (either locally or in general) and want to comparison shop on your website (and your competitors’ sites) using a mobile device.

In fact, a recent Google/Nielsen “Mobile Path to Purchase” study (see below) found that 48% of mobile product research starts with a search engine (and if it’s Google, it’ll prioritize mobile-friendly websites first), 33% of mobile research starts from a branded website (again, an optimized site will keep customers coming back for more), and finally 26% of mobile research is done via apps.

So, since mobile research impacts purchase behaviour via every customer point of purchase, building a mobile-friendly website first will have a broader impact on your overall sales.


Image via Google

If you decide to begin with a mobile website vs. an app, it’s important that your website is easily and quickly viewable on any mobile device. To do this, your best option is to build a responsive design website which adapts to the size and layout of any screen, on any device. And you don’t have to build it from scratch. There are lots of affordable templates and theme options already available to help you get up and running faster.

Then, once you’ve got the sales data to show that having a mobile-friendly website is helping to influence multi-channel purchase decisions, you can continue to track results and develop a plan to roll-out other mobile customer experience channels – all with an eye towards building and sustaining brand loyalty.

Still haven’t decided whether it’s time to adopt a mobile-friendly platform? Please share your questions, objections and concerns below.

Full disclosure, I worked at Google from 2007 to 2010. Any reference to Google is to help demonstrate the value of offering an optimal mobile experience.



About The Author

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who writes about Canadian SMEs, marketing and digital media trends. Follow her on Twitter.