Year on year (especially round the holiday season) we see increases in the amount of money spent online and the amount of those purchases made on mobile devices. If you would like your share of these customers you need to do eCommerce right.
Here are a few tips and techniques we recommend, whilst they are aimed at mobile eCommerce they are good practice across the board:
A responsive and "mobile sensitive" design
You may of heard of the "mobile first" technique for design, essentially meaning you start your design work on the smaller screens and then scale up.
We prefer a "mobile sensitive" approach, this allows you to plan for all devices without giving one a disproportional amount of attention, they are all important. Our approach considers the user needs on all devices, planning a single site that will adjust itself to make the best use of the screen real estate it has available.
Responsive design is a bigger subject than I will cover here but I did write an earlier post on An Introduction to Responsive Web Design.
One of the biggest (and worst) assumptions is that all mobile visitors are on a cellular data connection. They could be browsing using wi-fi from their front room or a coffee shop, 4G is also lightening fast so let's not cut content by making this inaccurate conclusion.
It is also worth remembering that larger displays can be accessing the internet over a tethered device and therefore cellular data.
Ensuring your content is properly optimised for all scenarios is always good practice and Google does reward sites with faster load times when ranking you against your competition. So spend time properly compressing images and displaying them at appropriate sizes, if your web designer hasn't done this then find another web designer!
Internal linking & search
In one word "navigation". Help your visitors find what they are looking for and let them find it effortlessly. If your visitor has to go through several pages to find what they want (potentially using cellular data) it can very quickly lead to them abandoning their search. Your home page needs to make this really easy but it also needs to be carried over to internal pages as not all traffic will land on your home page. With this in mind make sure your page titles and descriptions are up to date and helpful for those looking at your pages in the search engine results.
A site search option needs to be prominent for quick queries. No matter the backend system you are using, ensure that you can query against a field of misspellings (thumbs are less accurate than keyboards). Also ensure you have a report in the backend that shows you all the searches performed on your site, you will discover more for the searches that yielded zero results and can show you opportunities for growth.
Not all eCommerce sites need an SSL certificate (the green padlock) as they may send the visitor off to an external site for payment (which will have its own SSL certificate), but having that green icon in the address bar does inspire confidence in people when adding items to their basket, especially important when using cellular data or connecting via a guest wi-fi network (e.g. in Coffee shops).
These seemingly little details can make all the difference.
Again, important across the devices but on mobile it really comes into its own. When you shop on the high street you can evaluate a purchase with all your senses, when you are online you have only your eyes, this one sense needs to be clear, sharp, engaging and desirable… no matter what you are selling.
Professional photography will help to ensure your product is best shown no matter the screen size it is viewed on.
But it isn't just the product shots we need to pay attention to. The lifestyle images chosen can help make an emotional connection with your visitor and this really is the most powerful marketing tool you can have.
I wrote a previous article on this subject: The Importance of Photography in Web Design.
Reduce the cognitive load! Your page may load fast, have engaging imagery and copy but if a user has to continually scroll up and down to compare products it increases the amount of information they need to recall, process and make decisions on.
As with most of the tips here, this is true for mobile and desktop browsing, reduce the amount of items on each page and promote good internal linking, if you have a category with more than 20 products in it you will want to look at creating sub-categories or using a clever filter system to help narrow down the search.
One of the primary reasons for basket abandonment on mobile are forms. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to buy an item online, only to be confronted with a huge form for payment and delivery details. My thumbs can struggle with a text message, let alone with the vitally important information that is my card details, if I get this wrong I have to start again.
I have a sense of elation when I come to checkout and see the "Pay with PayPal" badge, sweet relief, I can click that, type in my password and my transaction is done.
That is not to say you should only offer PayPal. Remember we are being "mobile sensitive" here so let's give people the option to enter card details if they want to, this can be a PayPal Pro integration or another Payment Service Provider.
Data is your friend
Every site is different and the only true way of finding opportunities for growth is by analysing your visitors. If your mobile purchasers are rare then find the point that they are leaving your site and conduct tests to see if you can reverse the trend.
With new site builds we attempt to convince our client to start nimble as we don't have enough data to back up our decisions. Once we have the stats rolling in we an focus on the next enhancements that we know is going to offer real value. Remember a website is never truly complete.