If you’re a retailer with an e-commerce store and you aren’t catering to mobile shoppers, I’ve got some bad news…you’re not really in the game. This may sound dramatic, but the move to a mobile-first world is here. Amazon’s entry into Australia and the heightened appeal of online marketplaces only reinforces this shopping behaviour. Without mobile, you’re just handing business to your competitors.

According to BI Intelligence, in 2014 m-commerce accounted for around 12 per cent of total e-commerce, with this figure projected to hit 45 per cent by 2020. In 2014 the biggest hurdle for m-commerce was an unacceptable user experience, which was attributed to three limitations: screen size, speed, and security concerns. Fast forward four years and these hurdles no longer exist.

Design for mobile

Phones are getting bigger and networks are delivering a more stable and speedy service, but you’ll still need to ensure your website is optimised for both desktop and mobile applications. A fabulous desktop experience can quickly become irritating on mobile if you haven’t considered the differences in format.

Shoppers are likely to give up mid-transaction if it’s difficult to search, read product information or check-out, so aim for a clean, uncluttered design with simple calls to action like ‘Buy Now’, ‘Contact Us’ and ‘Shop Now’ buttons to direct users.

Make repeat purchases easy

Improving the user experience starts with customer login. Regular online shoppers know that creating an account is the key to a speedy purchase, with the added advantage of being able to recall order history and track shipments. If the login process is cumbersome, it will turn away would-be customers.

Don’t forget to include a ‘remember me’ box to avoid customers having to re-enter shipping and payment details. Take advantage of newer technologies such as increasingly prevalent fingerprint readers, and consider including that functionality as your gateway to mobile purchasing.

Search and save

Both websites and apps should incorporate easy-to-locate and use search functionality so your customers can find the products they want. Including a chat function will keep customers engaged, allowing them to ask questions or seek further clarification before they buy, and lessening the likelihood of abandoned transactions.

If users do exit your site with items in their trolley, can those details be easily retrieved on another device? While some users may have abandoned items intentionally, others may leave them as a reminder to purchase later. If you notice a rise in unfinished transactions, think about introducing a wish list capability, allowing users to earmark goods for future purchase.

The rise of voice

As mobile use increases and more virtual assistants like Siri, Google, Cortana and Alexa spring up, the way we search is changing. It’s estimated that more than 50 per cent of internet searches will be spoken by 2020, so you’ll need to optimise your site and change your SEO campaigns now to factor in this change.

Typed search is succinct—we use fewer words and concentrate on key phrases—whereas voice search is more conversational and detailed. If you want to know the weather for instance, you’d probably type ‘weather Sydney’ into a search engine. A voice search is more likely to be ‘what’s the weather like in Sydney today?’

Search engine algorithms are being tweaked to focus on the implied meaning of search queries (semantic search) which will increasingly deliver results based on information learnt about the user. These technologies are learning through a process called ‘natural language processing’, which will deliver accurate results with less and less user input.

To make the most of voice, think about the type of information your potential customers are searching for. Concentrate on long-tail key words (phrases) that reflect the conversational nature of voice search and make sure key information is clearly available on your site to improve your search rankings.

Location, location, location

The rise of mobile use has also enabled the use of location-based marketing, which is a powerful way to reach potential customers using the ‘right place, right time’ strategy. Targeting people based on their current location allows you to customise messages and encourage store visits when they are in the area and ready to purchase. Local search is booming and your competitors are probably already cashing in, so you’ll need to devise a strategy to capture your share.

Don’t get left behind

In the space of a decade, consumers have come to rely on smartphones for virtually everything, with no sign of our love affair with mobile slowing down.

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to start focusing on the behavioural changes that arise from a mobile-first mentality. If you aren’t aiming to create an m-commerce experience that meets renewed customer expectations, you’re going to get left behind. It’s that simple.

 Ryan Murtagh is the founder and CEO of retail management platform, Neto.


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