5 Tips for Creating Shopper-Friendly Mobile Commerce Sites
The day may come when more of your customers are making purchases on mobile devices than via laptop and desktop computers. While this threshold hasn't been reached quite yet, many mobile device users are eagerly embracing shopping on the small screen. According to eMarketer, U.S. mobile commerce sales will top $38 billion this year, up from $3.5 billion in 2010. By 2015, mobile sales will reach $71 billion.
Is your mobile website ready for this onslaught? Unfortunately, many online retailers haven't caught up to the m-commerce trend, and therefore may be discouraging shoppers who would likely stick around and make purchases via their smartphones and tablets if the experience were compelling enough. According to a survey conducted by EpiServer, 37 percent of consumers think most mobile sites are hard to navigate, and 38 percent said they'll abandon a mobile site if it's tough to use.
The key to an easy and fast mobile shopping experience often lies in site search, which takes on a prominent role in m-commerce — even moreso than on your standard website. In the absence of graphic elements and navigation that can guide visitors through a site, search in the mobile world is analogous to a flashlight in a dark tunnel. Here are five ways that you can bring the value of site search to your mobile commerce environments:
1. Build in relevancy. Relevant site search results are always important, but mobile shoppers rely on them even more heavily. If they don't see a result that matches up with their search terms, they're not inclined to re-start the search. When mobile searches are relevant and accurate, they're a boon to mobile customers and can encourage conversions.
2. Put best-selling products at top of the list. No doubt your customers are often seeking best-selling products and similar information when they begin their searches; smart online retailers will extract this information from site search data on a regular basis. To help your mobile shoppers cut the time it takes to find desired products, place your most-wanted products at the top of mobile search results so that shoppers don't need to spend time scrolling or clicking through to a new page of results.
3. Make the search box more obvious. Mobile shoppers usually want to search instead of browse, so increase the size of the search box to make it easy to find when they get to your mobile homepage. It's also a good idea to place the search box at the top of the web page so that users don't have to scroll. A good example of this comes from apparel retailer GotApparel.com, which makes the search box one of the most prominent elements on its homepage.
4. Use autocomplete for fewer keystrokes. Autocomplete is a big help for all of your visitors, as it provides suggestions and spelling alternatives after just a few letters or words are entered into the search box, but it's a particularly handy time-saving tool for busy mobile shoppers. This is how Keurig, a retailer of single-cup coffee brewers, helps its mobile shoppers quickly find what they're looking for. As you can see below, search suggestions have some space between them so that when mobile shoppers click on their choice, they won't mistakenly tap the wrong product.
5. Increase size for links and buttons. No doubt when you've browsed a website or app on your smartphone or tablet you've inadvertently clicked on a link that you didn't want to. You can help visitors steer clear of this common problem by boosting the size of buttons so they're big enough to be clicked on properly.
Incorporating these ideas into your m-commerce site will give you a head start on making the mobile shopping experience as customer friendly as possible, while helping you capture more sales from this ever-growing channel.
Terry Costa is the vice president of marketing at SLI Systems, a provider of on-demand site search software.