I visited Australia recently to attend a conference on disruptive innovation. Obviously, a lot of the discussion at the event was around mobile and how to make the most of it.
Going through Australian mobile statistics, I noticed a gap between Australian businesses and consumer behaviour. It seems businesses are failing to answer the population’s demand for mobile services.
Australian’s smartphone penetration is one of the highest in the world at 84 per cent, with 4G adoption at 77 per cent. Simply spending a few days in Sydney, I saw that Australians rely heavily on their smartphones to move around, search, buy and entertain themselves.
However, only 49 per cent of businesses’ websites are considered mobile optimised. That is concerning and means many retailers are missing out on potential sales.
Here are my top eight tips for retailers looking to change this by creating a great mobile experience that will drive traffic, and ultimately sales.
1. Build a mobile website and an app
Both are complementary in the retail world. A mobile website is essential to index your products on search engines and reach new targets through SEO and SEM, and apps are designed to increase users’ engagement and loyalty.
Make sure they both offer an impeccable experience. Customers generally consider downloading a brand’s app after an average of five visits to its mobile website. Don’t neglect it if you want to develop your customers’ loyalty.
2. Use data to personalise the experience
You can’t expect to be competitive in retail if you don’t have any initiatives in place to collect and analyse data. Insights based on your customers’ behaviour are a goldmine to identify and fix issues, and optimise your mobile platforms to deliver what customers are expecting.
More importantly, collecting data allows you to personalise the individual customer experience, from product merchandising to the content you are pushing. Not only will this increase your chances to sell, but users will also appreciate the personal touch.
3. Build for any device
The speed of smartphone innovation has slowed considerably in the past few years, and consumers are holding on to their phones for longer than ever. Older devices should be your reference when building and testing your mobile website. You can use data to find out which devices your customers mostly use, but you really want your app and mobile website to be accessible by anybody.
4. Build for any network
We don’t all enjoy 4G+ mobile networks and Wi-Fi everywhere. Your app and mobile website should be light enough to load even with bad network conditions.
5. Tailor your content to mobile
Your customer is impatient, even on mobile. The majority (about 57 per cent) of consumers expect load times on mobile to be almost as fast or faster than on desktop.
A few elements can help you significantly improve load times. Make sure your website’s content is always stored close to the user. If the content has to go across the globe, it will be slower to load, especially if it includes videos or HD pictures.
You also need to find the right balance between providing an engaging experience with quality images, and ensuring they are lightweight enough to load easily on any device and any network. Ensuring pictures are always displayed correctly, whatever your customer’s device, is critical to avoid visitors bouncing straight off your site.
6. Make navigation and payment easy
Navigating on mobile can quickly become a nightmare, especially when it involves transactions. It is especially crucial that checkout and payment steps be fast and simple as consumers become more impatient.
In fact, shopping cart abandonment has increased from 60 per cent to 75 per cent from 2006 to 2015. If you want to ensure your customers make it to the end of the checkout process, offer as many payment services as possible, avoid any forms, don’t force the customer to register, and remove any distractions.
7. Test your website in extreme conditions
You need to ensure your website offers a good experience even in the worst possible scenarios such as traffic peaks or a bad network connection.
I’m sure most of you can anticipate peak periods related to your activity and sector, and roughly predict the expected peak load. If you can, test your site at two to three times that peak, starting small and then scaling up to demonstrate the ability of your website or app to handle the load.
It is also recommended to use a phased approach, by testing read-only activities against your website first, to discover performance bottlenecks without touching other functions that are more difficult to test.
8. Prioritise security
As you store more of your customers’ personal data, good security is essential for nurturing trust and encouraging customers to keep transacting with you. While you don’t have to show them your security dashboards, they do need to feel every layer and step of your app or mobile website has been developed with security top of mind.
Our research shows that security is a top concern for consumers when shopping online. To demonstrate that you take security seriously, you should ask for a strong password, display the partners securing your payments, verify email addresses, phone numbers and credit cards, and inform customers on your data policy. Securing your website means securing customers.
Even if your competitors are still struggling with mobile commerce today, they will eventually reach maturity. When that happens, you don’t want to be left behind, because mobile transactions will keep growing, at the expense of desktop. To have a competitive advantage then, you need to adopt the right approach now.
Michael Gooding is a web performance optimisation evangelist EMEA at Akamai.
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