The rise and rise of mobile and tablet commerce
In a nutshell, mobile commerce (m-commerce) is the use of wireless electronic handheld devices such as mobile phones and smartphones to conduct business. In this blog we’ll also be including tablets under the m-commerce umbrella.
The last few years have seen a near explosion in the use of handheld devices and there is no sign of a slow down. In the US alone 54% of adults now own a smartphone and by 2016 it is estimated that 450 million tablets will be sold annually worldwide (Business Insider).
In terms of online shopping ComScore Research shows that during Q4 2010 mobile commerce accounted for just 3% of US e-commerce but by Q4 2012 this had risen to 11%.
So what does m-commerce mean for you as a small business?
OK, so you could argue that the 11% figure quoted above is relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but the important point is that the trend is upward and looks set to continue upward.
As a business you also need to take into account of how devices are used and your customer’s overall path to purchase. For example according to Google, 67% of shoppers start on one device and finish on another. I know I often browse an online store using my iPhone whilst out having a coffee only to complete the purchase later at home on my iPad watching TV .
It is important not to lump together devices. Research indicates they are used by the consumer in different ways. Tablets are used primarily around the home, mostly in living room 96% and bedroom 94% (Monetate). Whereas Smartphones are more ‘on the go’ and still chiefly used for email, making calls and accessing social networking sites like Facebook (Adobe 2013 Digital Publishing report).
“Companies should work to deliver device specific experiences to visitors in order to maximise the likelihood of purchase.” (Forrester)
An often quoted statistic is that by 2014 mobile internet access will overtake desktop internet access. There is still somewhere to go before handheld devices displace the PC for research and purchase usage, but as a business you need to be flexible enough to cater for each specific device.
Tablet usage is having a momentous rise. Indeed Monetate note a whopping 348% growth in traffic from tablets between 2011 and 2012. This supports the rise in what is often refered to as ‘sitback shopping’ or, as in a great infographic from Monetate ‘couch commerce’ http://monetate.com/infographic/couch-commerce-how-tablet-shoppers-are-changing-online-sales/.
Consumers continue to move away from desk-top and lap-top computers when shopping online, requiring e-commerce businesses to rethink the consumer experience on smartphones and tablets (Monetate).
As a business you need to be looking ahead and ensure your business is geared up for m-commerce. Mobiles and tablets may not have displaced the desktop for online shopping – yet - but the upward trend continues and they are an increasingly important part of your customers purchasing journey.
How to make your online store multi-device friendly
We’ll leave you with a few simple steps to help get you started on ensuring your website is mobile commerce friendly. Google notes that 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service.
1. Check how your website looks on different devices.
Look at your website on different devices. A great place to start is Google’s GOMO http://www.howtogomo.com. You can test your site on multiple devices and they’ll give you some really useful introductory advice.
And, don’t forget to think about your cart and checkout. If you are using a third-party e-commerce make sure that their shopping cart and checkout are multi-device compatible.
2. Make sure your website is ‘fat finger friendly’.
A great term I read the other day for making sure you think about how your users will view and use your website. Use large fonts, drop down menus, big buttons and limit text entry (especially form filling). Remember on a mobile device viewing takes place on a much smaller screen.
3. Simple site design and keep content clear, short and simple
Keep your website design clean, clear and clutter free and content short and to the point. This is essential as no matter on what device your website is being used it will make navigation simpler for your customer.
4. Responsive design, plug-ins, mobile apps or mobile website
There are different options available for you to get your website m-commerce ready.
Plenty of companies out there now offer responsive design. Responsive design effectively adapts your website to fit the device on which it is being viewed without having to create a multitude of device specific websites.
If you are using a Content Management System as a website platform then some CMS like wordpress and drupal offer plug-ins that will reformat your pages to adapt to different devices.
Alternatively, you could consider building a separate, independent website for mobile traffic or create a mobile app.
Whatever route you decide to go down just keep in mind that it’s all about the end users experience on the device that they are using to view your website.