Today more consumers are using their mobile devices to make purchases. So as an e-commerce retailer, you can’t just focus all your efforts on developing a good, user-friendly desktop website. You have to also develop a good, user-friendly mobile experience—for today’s tech-savvy consumers and to please Google.
Since updating its algorithm in April of 2015 and again in March of 2016, Google has been highly favoring mobile-friendly websites. And that’s not going to change anytime soon, as it’s expected that Google will only keep raising the bar for what it believes is “mobile friendly” and then reflect those beliefs in its future algorithm updates.
But don’t just have a mobile ready website for Google. Do it because consumers, your customers, are proving mobile is where they’re at:
- 80% of internet users own a smartphone.
- Last year, Google confirmed that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.”
- Mobile represents 65% of digital media time.
- Women spend 3 hours and 46 minutes a month browsing the web via a mobile device, while men spend 3 hours 45 minutes.
- In 2015, mobile influenced retail sales to more than $1 trillion.
- The mobile click-to-open rate (from offers consumers receive from brands via mobile emails) rose from 10.3% to 13.0% from 2013-2015, while the desktop rate dropped by 6.3% in the same timeframe.
- Mobile delivers 30% of all email-driven orders and more than 25% of email-driven revenue.
- 78% of mobile device searches lead to an in-store conversion.
- 70% of mobile users prefer shopping on a mobile site vs. a mobile app.
It’s clear that mobile is becoming a primary purchasing channel. And the advancement in mobile technology, coupled with a consumer’s familiarity using their mobile device and the need to always be on their phone (plus Google favoring mobile friendly sites), has produced a huge increase in mobile transactions—and a huge need for your e-commerce site to not just be mobile friendly, but mobile optimized for your customers.
Difference Between Mobile Friendly and Mobile Optimized
It’s critical to know who your customers are; it’s also critical to understand how your website will be displayed on the various mobile devices your customers will be using.
A mobile friendly website is one that simply displays accurately on both a computer and a mobile device. It just appears smaller on a mobile device but is still completely functional.
In order for your e-commerce site to be mobile friendly, here are some top features your site needs:
- Text-based phone numbers, physical addresses or email addresses that can prompt a phone call or email from a mobile device
- Slideshows or image rotators that work without Flash support
- Smaller-sized product images so mobile users experience faster loading times.
Having a mobile friendly site is a best practice for many web developers for any website development. But a mobile optimized website takes it a step further. It’s a more advanced option where your site isn’t just accurate and functional when viewed from a mobile device; it means the site reformats itself for a number of different handheld devices.
Mobile optimized websites have bigger navigation buttons (easy to find and easy to push), reformatted content and differently optimized images that show up when a customer is on a specific mobile device.
Some e-commerce retailers wonder what the significance is of having a site that reformats. Well, it’s because this action allows your website to easily engage a larger mobile audience when they’re faced with key purchasing decisions. More consumers turn to their mobile devices from inside a store, 75% of shoppers in fact, and 25% of shoppers make a purchase from their device while still inside the store. If you’re an e-commerce shop that also has a brick and mortar store, having a website that lets your customers easily navigate and engage from their small screen means they’re going to reach a purchasing decision faster.
Good formatting elements for a mobile optimized website include:
- Simplified navigation with large touch points, especially with critical contact information, so it’s easy for fingers of all sizes to touch (convert any text-based links to large buttons)
- Smaller graphics that don’t interfere with a consumer’s search to find critical information, like product listings
- An option to view your website’s desktop version.
What’s the big deal about responsive web design?
A responsive website is one that’s totally flexible, no matter what device is used to access it. Instead of the website being designed to detect what device or browser type a consumer is using, it automatically changes itself based off the screen size of the mobile device accessing it, using a combination of reformatting and re-optimizing.
Other benefits of responsive design include a single URL, less site maintenance and reduced load time, which is important since 57% of mobile shoppers will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds and 80% of those shoppers don’t come back to visit the same site.
This option is the more costly option to develop, but it’s ultimately your best option and best investment if your customers and target market are active on mobile devices or likely to make on-the-go purchases.
You may know that mobile shoppers are taking over, but there’s a difference between knowing it and actually doing something about it.
If your efforts have only been focused on designing the hippest looking apparel and desktop website, then you better shift your priorities to improving your mobile experience—or else your sales and search ranking could really suffer.
If you’re curious what your site looks like on different mobile devices, pull out your smartphone and tablet and find out, or you can use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. And if you don’t know how many of your site visitors are on mobile devices, turn to Google Analytics, which I’m sure will further prove that creating a mobile optimized e-commerce site is exactly what you need to do.