How To Improve Mobile Ecommerce Conversions In 2018

sailthru-mobile-ecommerce-conversion

Editor’s Note: In addition to the strategies outlined below, a mobile app messaging strategy is essential for the long-term success of an app. Building the right balance of push notifications mixed with in-app messaging is where many brands go wrong — and lose their app users. Don’t fall victim to the messaging woes of mobile with Sailthru’s Ultimate Best Practice Guide to Mobile Messaging and Engagement. 

Let’s start this article by taking a quick look at these graphs below which highlight average e-commerce conversion rates by device:

2016 average e-commerce conversion rates by device

If you build, or manage e-commerce stores, you’re probably aware that mobile use is increasing at a very rapid rate.

However, data based on more than 1.9 billion shopping sessions collected by Monetate, clearly shows ‘traditional’ (aka desktop) web users still have conversion rates more than triple that of those browsing on Smartphones.

So, that begs the question: How do we improve the average e-commerce conversion rates for smartphones?

Why Desktops Still Dominate Conversion Rates

Desktop and Mobile comparison of the new hard candy design.
We’ll be rolling out this Hardcandy.com re-design Fall 2017.

I think we need to start to answer the question of “How do we improve the average e-commerce conversion rates for smartphones?” by first identifying what desktop experiences do really well.

  • Internet connectivity on desktop experiences tends to be strong, thus allowing pages and assets to load quickly
  • The main menu is often robust, with multiple category options
  • Search bars are large and prominent
  • Product category feeds often contain multiple products which are visible at once, as well as advanced filter options
  • Product visuals tend to be large and detailed

Despite the fact that trends for mobile use continue to rise year over year, many continue to build platforms for desktop first because it’s more comfortable and familiar than the alternative.

Web Teams In General Have More Experience With Desktop Websites

Truth of the matter is, we’ve had more experience working with the desktop computing platform because it’s been around longer.

As a result, web experiences have effectively been standardized on the traditional platform. Consumers know what to expect. They know where to go. They understand how to operate a desktop website with little learning required.

Furthermore, wifi/ethernet is a much more stable environment to shop on. Now, I’m not saying this is exclusive to desktop and laptop computers, but it’s almost always a given when using these devices.

It’s been proven, through a number of studies that quicker load times improve sales conversions. Until wireless internet connections stabilize further, traditional devices will always inherently have an edge on mobile ones.

Lastly, space is a huge advantage. UI designers can get away with a lot more on a desktop device simply due to the fact that the canvas to work with is larger. Bigger images, more menus, and more products can be seen as an enhancement to the users experience.

Barriers And Hurdles For Smartphones

Despite constant advancement of the technology, many of these things are limitations of the Smartphones that have to be worked around.

  • Computing power on mobile devices is not as strong as traditional platforms.
  • Wireless connectivity for many is unreliable at best
  • The platform limits how much space you have to work with
  • Due to how rapidly devices and operating systems change, there is a much wider net to what defines a mobile user.
  • Mobile users are typically experiencing more than one instance of media at any given time

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not trying to knock smart phone manufacturers. They’re developing products that have literally revolutionized how modern society works.

That being said, there still seems to be a pretty big lack of standardization and functionality which forces us, as e-commerce website developers, to discover effective work arounds.

Mobile user distracted from conversions by multiple devices
It’s easy to find your self distracted by multiple devices, or, in a public setting like a coffee shops. These types of sessions drive down mobile conversion rates.

So, despite the deck being seemingly loaded in traditional computing’s favor, there is still a lot of hope for smartphones to match, or overtake this battle for conversion rates.

Improving UX = Improving Mobile Conversion Rates

Now that we know why traditional platforms have an advantage, and where smartphones fall short, let’s discuss how we, as store owners and store creators can make improvements which in turn, improve mobile conversion rates.

I want to take this as an opportunity to talk less about UI hacks and tricks, and more-so about root causes that impede conversions.

The biggest hinderance for mobile conversions in our opinion is website performance. Slow to load, laggy mobile experiences kill the user’s drive to use the website.

Ensuring website assets are as compressed as possible should be a given. Using tools such as Kraken to shrink images down in bulk can immediately create an uptick in mobile conversions. Also ensuring CSS/Javascript/HTML are compressed where necessary is a big deal.

Elizabeth Arden website takes longer to load then the Rug and Home website because of the amount of requests

Despite the fact that the Rug & Home home page is 25% larger, it still loads .5s faster on average than the Elizabeth Arden UK site. Why is this the case?

What often goes overlooked, however, are the amount of requests a website must make in order to fully render the page. To explain it simply, each request requires the session to loop, drawing on the server and the ISP. Each loop takes time, that time can add up quickly.

This problem is often more difficult to fix, as all on page assets such as images, video, scripts, and style sheets create these loops.

It’s easy for e-commerce websites to get out of control with these types of assets, after all, your average e-commerce website usually requires many third party tools to run smoothly (Shipping, fulfillment, marketing etc). It’s also common that over time this issue becomes exaggerated as things get tacked onto the platform.

Careful design and development planning can help combat these issues by prioritizing doing more with less from the get go. Regular audits of the websites performance should be made over time to ensure that these things are in line and the website is as lean as possible.

You Need To Optimize Your Website For Browsing

Your average users typically have their attention split across multiple channels at any given time. Many users may be in transit, such as a car, train, or plane. Or sitting on their couch with the TV in the background unwinding from a long day.

Woman sitting on a couch, interacting with multiple forms of traditional and digital media.

Phones are often a source of people’s entertainment, but not the sole focus. This often creates a passive mindset to purchasing, which naturally drives down average mobile conversion rates.

Since they’re interested, but not necessarily ready to buy, we need to prioritize the creation of user experiences that allow customers interest to peek, and facilitate a longer buying process.

Most mobile websites default to a single column view of products. This optimizes the size of the products thumbnail photo, but diminishes the ability to quickly browse through various products. For many clients we’ve found that displaying products in two columns rather that one actually increase average session durations overall for our customers.

If you have a product that can work as a smaller thumbnail, take advantage of the devices screen space and reduce the size of the thumbnails to get more products in front of your customer per scroll.

Single column mobile display vs two column multiple dispaly
Different products require different displays. Don’t always default to single column if your product can be effective in two.

Also, keeping within the mindset of an in transit potential customer, the ability for customers to save their orders easily and effectively is critical. They may find a few items they like on their initial pass through but won’t have the time or availability to make the purchase on the spot.

A persistent cart, and even better yet, an e-mail notification for cart abandonment can go a long way for catching this customer when they do have the availability to make their purchase.

“Tactile Response” is a fancy way of saying: Every action has a reaction.

In e-commerce, tactile response ensures that users are being rewarded for their actions on the website. It also has been proven to improve order accuracy. Tactile response is especially important when it comes to interacting with the checkout process.

If someone adds something to their cart, they need an obvious visual cue to ensure that product has been added successfully.

If someone completes form fields, their should be visual indicators that those fields are valid. Lastly, if someone submits their order, there should be clear indication that order has been received.

Slick mobile concept highlight tactile response for add to cart

Source Sansern

This approach is important for all modes of shopping (traditional, tablet, and mobile) but we find it even more important for increasing average mobile conversions because we’re dealing with an ecosystem that’s limited by poor connectivity.

Sometimes an action might fail due to network connection dropping momentarily, strong tactile cues make it clear for the user when that happens, and if they should try to submit their order again.

A desktop website built on an old platform which probably has a terrible conversion rate.

Source Arngren.net

In the last 10 years many improvements have been made to improve how e-commerce platforms perform. Modern templating systems, such as Liquid, which was created by Shopify provide structural advantages to online stores and improve their benchmarks.

If your store was built >5 years ago, it’s most likely worthwhile to consider a re-build. A cleanly built website on a modern platform will most likely have dramatic performance improvements over a legacy system.

Since page speed is such a huge factor in buying decisions, this alone could create a solid increase in conversion rates for your store.

In Summary

Desktop and tablet experiences still out perform average mobile conversion rates by double or greater. There are a number of limiting factors surrounding technology which inhibit the full potential of smartphone conversion rates.

However, there are a number of fundamental issues with e-commerce platforms today that can be corrected to improve average mobile conversion rates on smartphones. With smart planning, and diligence, issues with website performance should be a non-factor.

Understanding how, and when customers use their smartphones to shop is also key to raising conversion rates.

In its fifth year of business, Huemor continues to grow as an award-winning web design and development agency whose work sells, persuades, and inspires.

This article is by Jeff Gapinski from huemor.rocks.

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