How to Prepare Your Ecommerce Site for the Future of Mobile Retail

How to Prepare Your Ecommerce Site for the Future of Mobile Retail

With Cyber Monday sales hitting a record $7.9 billion during the 2018 holiday season, it’s clear online shopping is now the norm for today’s consumers. This begs the question, how many of today’s online sales are due to mobile habits? the answer is: a lot.

As Christiana Rattazzi, head of marketing at Euclid states, “One driving force behind changes in retail is the mini computer in your pocket or purse — the smartphone.”

Mobile’s influence on shopping behavior has been on the rise since the inception of the smartphone, but recent data indicates consumers are increasingly utilizing mobile devices to complete their online transactions. Almost forty percent of ecommerce sales were completed on a mobile device in 2018, and it’s expected to reach over fifty-three percent by 2021.

These figures are a clear sign consumers have warmed to the idea of making purchases on their smartphones and tablets. Consumers are buying anything from apparel, to groceries, to home furnishings on their mobile devices. As buyers increasingly turn to their phones over desktop or in-store experiences, here are a few ways to stay on top of upcoming changes:

1. Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Responsive

Having a site that is able to adapt to the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets is the foundation of a mobile-first ecommerce strategy. A site that doesn’t convert to mobile forces consumers to zoom in and out of a product image or struggle to locate a navigation bar, which can be extremely frustrating and will likely lead to the consumer exiting a site to find a simpler alternative. However, when a website is responsive, the layout and content adapts based on the size of screen they’re presented on. While many sites are already optimized for mobile devices, those that aren’t may be missing many sales opportunities. If you’re unsure whether your site is mobile responsive or not, enter your site’s URL into Google Search Console’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Not only will you be able to see what your site looks like on a mobile device, but Google will also make recommendations to improve your mobile design.

While maintaining a mobile responsive site creates a positive user experience, it also impacts your search engine rankings. In 2015, Google rolled out their mobile-friendly update, which indicated that a site’s mobile presence is factored in as a ranking signal. While this only affects search rankings on mobile devices, you want to ensure customers are able to find you in search results, regardless of the device they choose to use. All things considered, in order to boost your customers’ mobile experience, be sure that your site converts to mobile formats.

2. Prioritize Convenience

Online retailers should also focus on speed and convenience to remain competitive. A site’s loading speed is a major factor in customer experience. In fact, research by Google found that more than 50 percent of consumers will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and 27 percent are willing to move on to a competitor. Fast-loading sites perform better on all fronts: better user experience, higher conversions, more engagement and higher search rankings. Site speed becomes even more important when you’re after mobile traffic. While there are a number of contributing factors that impact your site’s loading speed, a few simple resolutions include: upgrading to a faster web host, optimizing your site’s images or using a content delivery network. If you can’t identify the issue, try using a tool like Pingdom or Google PageSpeed insights, which will analyze a page’s load time, identify any bottlenecks and generate suggestions to help the page load faster.

It’s also important to minimize the number of steps a customer has to take between adding an item to their cart to completing the transaction. Because of services like Amazon’s one-click ordering, consumers expect fast options that allow them to seamlessly check out online. Given these expectations, retailers must eliminate friction during the checkout process. Try integrating modern payment gateways and mobile payment solutions such as Apple Pay to make checkout easier. Storing shipping data for returning customers or eliminating popups can further streamline the buying experience.

3. Conduct Timely Service

Today’s mobile consumers are accustomed to immediate answers and instantaneous access to the web. That means your sales and service processes should interact with customers in the same way. In fact, Sprout Social found that consumers are willing to wait just four hours for a customer support response. However, almost ninety percent of consumer inquiries that require responses go unanswered by brands, negatively impacting customer experience, the sales funnel and, inevitably, revenue.

AI-powered chatbots, which are designed to simulate conversation with human users over the internet, equip businesses with a way to handle customer service functions. When you’re unable to answer customer questions on behalf of your site, during nighttime hours for example,  chatbots can step in as a virtual assistant and provide an instantaneous response. They fulfill consumers’ demand for instant support. Chatbots are easy to deploy for businesses, and can be available to consumers through voice, mobile app, instant messaging, SMS, or website. They satisfy the queries of each individual customer more quickly, more efficiently, and, oftentimes, more accurately.

As mobile commerce shapes the way customers interact with brands, changes are happening fast. Retailers can make small changes to their mobile sites now to drive more sales in 2019 and beyond.