Remember those sepia tinted days when we heard everyone gush on and on about e-commerce. Ah, distant memories.
The new kid on the block – m-commerce – has taken the retail world by storm. According to a study by PayPal and Ipsos, mobile commerce is growing three times faster than good ol’ e-commerce. The study conducted across 22 countries and 17,500 customers show the compounded annual growth rate of mobile commerce pegged at 42%, whereas e-commerce is currently growing at about 13% per annum.
Asia clearly leads the mobile commerce charge with China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates taking the top three spots. E-commerce players like Flipkart in India now see over 50% of their sales coming from their mobile platform. With users across a large number of emerging markets now experiencing the internet for the first time via their smartphones instead of the traditional PC, mobile commerce is clearly set to upstage its older sibling.
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While most websites have now started switching to responsive design to make themselves more compatible with all devices and browsers, there’s a boatload of mobile commerce specific changes that e-commerce brands need to focus on, in order to keep up with consumer demands. Here are my top picks.
1: Simple Layout, Navigation, Similar Product Categories
The smaller screen size that mobile devices typically have, makes browsing a website on mobile a challenge to begin with. Responsive design and mobile only websites alleviate the problem to some extent on the average website, but e-commerce sites on mobile face a completely different level of complexity altogether.
According to research by the Baymard Institute, at least 70% of users tend to scan the entire home page of the mobile site / app before proceeding with their purchase process. This is true even if the user already knows exactly what they want. By scanning the home page, the user is essentially trying to get his bearings right before proceeding with a purchase. The study shows that users prefer
- Design a clean homepage without too much clutter. Avoid squeezing in too many visual elements on your home page. With screen sizes at an average of 5”, an excessive number of page elements can make the experience confusing and the page unreadable.
- Offer ample white space with large buttons to avoid fat finger syndrome.
- Don’t hide your navigation categories. Show all or at least the most popular ones upfront. Users have a tough time scrolling through drop down menus to access product categories on small screens.
- Don’t change your product categories on mobile just to fit them in better on a small screen. Maintaining the same categories and navigation structure as your desktop site avoids confusion on part of the user and helps in tracking and measurement at your end.
WhichTestWon reported this interesting test carried out by insurance company Anthem on their mobile site. Two versions of the site were tested:
From desktop usability experience, one would think that the version with the image performed better. Surprisingly, the first version with no image and just two clear CTAs garnered 166% more leads than the other one at a confidence level of 95%.
2: Easier Checkouts
About half of all smartphone owners use their mobile phones to research a product, but only 23% actually make a purchase on their mobile phones. A huge factor holding users back in from making the leap from window shopping on their mobile phones to actually putting the cash down and buying stuff via their phones is the painful checkout process.
To make the inherent problems of having a tiny screen worse, many online retailers copy-paste their e-commerce checkout flow to their mobile sites and apps. This means users not only have to fill up endless forms, they also need to fill in data in tiny form fields without making a single error. A tall order that.
- A good way to smooth out your users’ journey from window shopping to buying is by cutting down the steps to the final purchase. Keep your mobile checkout process shorter than your regular checkout process, even if it means redesigning your checkout for mobile.
- Offer guest checkouts as an option to save users’ time and effort. Research shows that guest checkouts prevent users from abandoning a purchase halfway and increase conversions.
- Offer auto-complete on forms to speed up the entire checkout process. Data that you may already have can be used to pre-fill fields and help the user along the process.
Below you can see the sea of difference it makes to include guest checkout in your mobile experience. Nike offers guest checkout, while Etsy does not. In fact, Etsy seemingly goes out of its way to make life difficult for users by only allowing them to proceed to make a purchase after they sign in either with a new Etsy account or via a Google account.
Not only does Nike offer guest checkouts, it also gets most of the other checkout requirements spot on.
No wonder Nike recently announced that it’s become a mobile-first site with mobile traffic exceeding traffic from PCs. Its conversions grew by over 42% on the back of its massive mobile traffic.
3: Secure Payments, Alternative Payment Modes
Payments via mobile have always been a tricky minefield, inhibiting mobile commerce growth in the process. Besides safety of payments, the other issue that finds resonance among mobile commerce users is speed of payments and convenience which most online retailers ignore. Forbes magazine reveals that Americans are twice as likely to carry a phone as cash. This tendency to avoid cash transactions is stronger in younger people as millennial are four times more likely.
Offer multiple payment options. From the Google Wallet, PayPal, Square and more have come together to offer easier payments to users. Many adventurous retailers even offer bitcoin to users as a preferred payment mode.
BetaBrand accepts Google Wallet payments even on its mobile site
Incorporate security into your mobile commerce experience by investing in 32 Bit SSL Certificates for your site. Payment options like Apple Pay that use a Secure Element embedded in each iPhone to store the user’s payment details help minimize risk of fraud and lower the liability of the transaction from your shoulders as an m-commerce site.
Even within mobile sites or apps, users need to be reassured that their data is safe and won’t be misused. Use security messaging in the form of trust labels like “Verified by Visa” to instill complete confidence in your users about transacting on mobile. This fear of being hacked into was found to more intense among Android and Blackberry users according to a study by Webcredible.
While a lot of the wisdom earned over the years of managing ecommerce sites can be carried forward and applied interchangeably in a mobile scenario, we must learn to respect the nuances of mobile commerce that set it apart. A fine eye for such details combined with solid implementation is a perfect recipe for mobile commerce success.