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Ecommerce Experience for Mobile Shopping

April 1, 2021
Luke Daugherty
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Nailing the Ecommerce Experience for Mobile Shopping: Our Guide

At this point in the digital age, the need for a streamlined, simple ecommerce experience is a given.

But these sales channels are quickly expanding beyond the confines of computers. They're going mobile, and companies that want to keep up must put the mobile shopping experience at the forefront.

Mobile ecommerce sales were expected to reach $284 billion — accounting for 45% of the total U.S. ecommerce market — by the end of 2020, according to Business Insider. Mobile-commerce volume is expected to maintain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5% to reach $488 billion by 2024.

With roughly half of ecommerce happening on mobile devices, it's critical to have a plan for driving mobile sales. That's why the mobile ecommerce user experience (UX) must play a key role in your sales strategy.

The Power of Mobile Ecommerce

Not convinced? Consider a few more facts about mobile shopping:

  • In a consumer survey, BrizFeel reported smartphones are the most popular device for online shopping, with 49% of people using them compared with 43% for personal computers (PCs) and 8% for tablets.
  • According to Smart Insights data, while conversion rates for desktop shopping dropped in 2020 from 2019, they have risen for mobile phones and held steady for tablets.
  • Consumers use smartphones not only to shop online (65%) but compare prices and research products while in store (61%), according to KPMG International.

While it's true that desktop shoppers tend to spend more on individual purchases, there's no denying that mobile devices are becoming the dominant tool for delivering the online shopping experience to consumers. If you don't apply ecommerce best practices to the mobile side of your shopping experience, you're guaranteed to lose out on a significant chunk of sales.

A smartphone and a computer screen display a women’s shirt on an online shopping cart page.

Mobilizing Your Ecommerce Experience

The first and most important thing to understand is this: Mobile and desktop ecommerce experiences are different. That means the ecommerce UX you create must be specifically designed for each one.

In the early days of smartphones and tablets, consumers would start their shopping experience on a mobile platform simply for convenience's sake. But they would usually finish on a computer because they grew tired of the cumbersome task of navigating a desktop website on a tiny screen.

Now, more mobile sites and apps are built to cater to small screens and make mobile browsing and shopping easier by keeping key features front and center. As more companies learn to design with the mobile experience in mind, more consumers are completing their purchases from their smartphones or tablets.

Brands that are having the most success are those taking a mobile-first approach to ecommerce design, starting with the constraints of a small screen and building out from there.

Mobile Ecommerce Best Practices for Maximizing Conversions

To truly put mobile first in this way and drive more sales through these platforms, you need to keep a few mobile ecommerce UX best practices in mind.

Here are10 ways to maximize the mobile shopping experience for your customers:

1. Think Ergonomically

Again, the way people use mobile devices is fundamentally difference from the way they use PCs, and this starts with the user interface. Everything should be optimized for easy thumb scrolling and tapping rather than having to navigate awkwardly around the page.

This means you should always design with the "thumb zone" in mind, placing buttons and other interactive content within thumb's reach when holding the phone in one hand. After all, they didn't come to your site for a thumb workout.

2. Design for Speed and Ease of Use

Smartphones may have gotten much easier to use in recent years, but they are still awkward compared to working with a physical keyboard and mouse. No one wants to spend a lot of time filling out forms with a tiny digital keyboard or scrolling back to find the button they missed.

When you design for mobile first, it means you should always think about how to make your site as easy for the user as possible. Forms should auto-complete wherever possible. Images and buttons should be distinct and clickable. Call-to-action (CTA) buttons and navigation bars should stick on screen while the user scrolls to read about your product. The search bar should always be accessible at the top of the page so customers can quickly find what they need.

3. Limit Text on Product Pages

Users don't want to scroll through a wall of text on their smartphones to find the information they seek. Opt for simple product descriptions and a clean, organized design with plenty of white space. If products have additional details, fold those under collapsible headers that users can click when they need the information.

When you're laying out your product pages, strive to pare down descriptions and details to the bare essentials. Get your customers the info they need while keeping images, review highlights and purchase buttons front and center.

4. Enable Image Zooming

Screen size isn't just an issue with text — it can be a problem with images, too. If a customer wants to get a better view of a product on a 5- or 6-inch screen, they almost certainly need to zoom in. The Baynard Institute reports 25% of ecommerce sites have images with poor resolution or insufficient zoom capabilities. That means a lot of shoppers can't see the details they want to see when looking at products on mobile sites.

Make sure you use high-resolution images and your site supports mobile-friendly (i.e., pinching and double-tapping) zoom gestures. It also should be clear to users that they can zoom, so images should feature a simple magnifier symbol or instructive text such as "Tap to zoom."

5. Display Top Categories Prominently

Think strategically about your limited space and put yourself in your users' shoes. When you visit a website to find a product, the best ecommerce navigation UX is the kind that allows you to quickly find what you're looking for and make a purchase.

So, although you might offer hundreds of different products in dozens of categories, certain ones are more popular and contribute a lot more to your bottom line. The majority of your visitors are looking for these items. Feature these categories prominently so that users can filter out everything else and browse through the product types they're interested in.

This has the added bonus of improving your search engine optimization (SEO) — apart from your home page, category and subcategory pages drive the majority of traffic, according to seoClarity. Not only are you increasing conversions this way, you're driving more traffic to your website to begin with.

6. Include Action Indicators

One of the best ecommerce mobile design features you can add is to include clear action indicators on any buttons and links. Because it's all too easy to misfire on touchscreen taps, users want to know when those taps have registered.

A button that shows no indication of whether it was clicked will just lead your customers to tap it repeatedly in frustration. This could cause issues with multiple form submissions or create further delays in processing their transaction. Make sure your buttons and links change color or, better yet, have an animation such as a spinning circle to indicate that the site is processing the user's input.

A smartphone screen shows that a payment with a credit card is secure.

7. Make Customers Feel Secure

There are a lot of reasons visitors jump ship before completing their transactions. Security concerns are among the top ones.

A Baynard Institute study conducted in late 2019 showed 18% of shoppers abandoned their shopping carts online because they decided they didn't trust ecommerce websites with their sensitive information.

That you should carefully guard your customer information with the latest security software and protocols goes without saying. But you need to make sure they know you're trustworthy. Use icons and logos for your security software throughout the checkout process, highlight "secure checkout" repeatedly and feature reviews from real customers to make it clear your business is legitimate.

8. Consider Accessibility

The public — and the law — continues to raise the bar for website accessibility standards, meaning your website should be easy for anyone to use, regardless of any physical limitations or disabilities. That applies as much to your mobile site as it does to your desktop page.

To ensure your mobile site or app is accessible for any user, consider the following features:

  • Large buttons surrounded by white space
  • A "thumb zone" that accommodates right- and left-handed users equally
  • Input options such as voice control and external keyboards
  • Text transcripts or captions for audio presentations
  • Screen reader optimization
  • Sharp contrast and clear, zoomable text for visually impaired users
  • Clear, easy-to-understand copy

The easier it is for everyone to access your mobile site or app, the larger your potential pool of customers.

9. Ease of Checkout

A clumsy checkout process is another top reason for customers to abandon their carts. This is even more the case with mobile devices, where expediency is at a premium.

To incorporate ecommerce checkout flow best practices, make sure it's quick and painless to start and complete an order from any mobile device. Include one-tap purchases wherever possible. Limit form fields. Make it easy to log in with existing accounts such as Google and Facebook rather than creating a new one. Integrate third-party payment options such as Apple Pay and PayPal.

Anything you can do to simplify this process for your customers is likely to win you more sales.

10. Save and Transfer

No matter how easy your checkout process is, some customers will just feel more comfortable completing the transaction on a computer. Your mobile site should make it easy for them to save products or store their shopping cart and pick it right back up on their desktop or laptop.

This can be done through their account or with cookies, or you can set up abandoned cart emails that they can later open on their computer and click through to their shopping cart (perhaps with a discount applied to encourage them to finish the purchase). Either way, make it clear that they can pick up where they left off.

Give Your Customers the Best Mobile Ecommerce Experience

Mobile ecommerce is quickly becoming the default mode for consumers to research products, compare prices and shop online. Continued advancements in mobile technology will only accelerate this trend, and consumers will simply expect brands to prioritize the mobile ecommerce experience.

Thinking mobile-first about your website's ecommerce UX and, better yet, designing customized mobile apps for an even smoother customer experience, will help you keep up with these trends.


Luke Daugherty

Luke Daugherty is a freelance writer, editor and former operations manager based in St. Louis. His work covers business, marketing and personal finance, as well as many of his personal passions, including coffee, music and social issues.

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