Mobile phones are an integral part of modern society: in the U.S. alone 81% of Americans own a smartphone. We use them for everything, from instant communication to banking and making purchases on the go.
While most e-commerce sales still come from desktop computers today, that likely won't be true tomorrow. Forrester predicts mobile’s share of U.S. online retail and travel sales will stand at 45% by 2024, up from 39.6% in 2019. The steady rise in "m-commerce" presents an undeniable opportunity for online merchants big and small. But in order to capitalize on it, they need to have a mobile-friendly website.
What’s Driving Mobile Commerce
It took consumers awhile to warm up to shopping online and the same is true of mobile. But make no mistake about it, the trend toward m-commerce is growing. A few key factors are driving this trend.
Upgrade to 5G Networks
Faster internet speeds as a result of the upgrade from 4G to 5G mobile networks will mean better streaming of videos, games, and apps on smartphones. With 4G, it takes several minutes to download a full HD movie. With 5G, it will be several seconds. 5G brings greater capacity as well, which stronger signals, even in a crowded stadium. Instant payments and faster navigation on websites will also be the norm.
And importantly, it will mean an easier time shopping on mobile. Adobe Digital Insights expects 5G to be responsible for $12 billion in additional revenue for U.S. retailers.
Increasing Comfort with Mobile Shopping
On the whole, consumers aren’t afraid to make purchases with their smartphones anymore. But some businesses are behind the curve. PayPal found that 72% of consumers in the U.S. made a purchase online using a smartphone. Despite that, just 57% of businesses offer a mobile-optimized experience.
Easier Shopping Experience
Converting mobile shoppers into regular customers has long been a challenge. Scores of consumers search the internet using mobile devices, but when it comes to pulling the trigger many still turn to their PC. That’s changing thanks to one-click checkout.
Pioneered by Amazon, retailers are offering the ability to store payment information and press one button to order. Speedy checkout and fast delivery are made possible thanks to mobile apps. One only needs to look at Target and its mobile ordering as an example.
Why You Need a Mobile-Friendly Website
Optimizing a website for mobile commerce may seem unnecessary if it's a small portion of sales. Who has the time today to make a bet on tomorrow? But forward-looking businesses know they can’t ignore mobile for several reasons.
- A considerable portion of traffic is coming from mobile. PCs still dominate Internet shopping, but mobile is driving the bulk of the traffic. As it stands, half of the Internet traffic comes from mobile devices. When 5G becomes the standard, that’s only expected to grow. That presents a particular opportunity for a local small business to access potential customers who are using mobile devices to search for merchants. Consumers searching for a nearby dry cleaner want to easily find the information on their smartphone. If they can’t, they will move on.
- It builds trust. Studies have shown consumers are less likely to recommend a company if the mobile site is poorly designed. They also have a hard time trusting an online merchant if the site is hard to navigate.
- You’ll get noticed. Google prioritizes a website's mobile experience. A mobile-optimized site is necessary to rank high in Google's search queries. The more mobile-friendly your website is the higher you’ll place in Google search.
- Millennials are doing it. If much of your customer base is comprised of millennials and younger, having a mobile-friendly website is a requirement. According to market research firm Gfk, 73% of Generation Y (millennials) report using a smartphone to make a purchase. That compares to 59% of Generation Xers and 33% of baby boomers.
Execution is Everything When Optimizing for Mobile
Knowing you need to optimize your website for mobile and doing it are two completely different things. Fail on the execution side and you could end up losing customers rather than gaining new ones. Follow these five simple tactics for creating a quality mobile-friendly site.
1. Make it easy to find the most important information.
Business owners can either create a new website for mobile or optimize an existing one. The budget and what you’re aiming to achieve will dictate that decision. Either way, your contact information, store hours and shopping cart should be easy to find on your mobile-optimized website. Mobile users want to be able to glance at their phone and get everything in one place.
2. Navigation can’t be clunky.
Short attention spans are common these days and that’s particularly true when using a mobile device. To boost engagement, your mobile-optimized website needs to be easy to navigate. That means pages should load instantaneously, all of the important information such as the store hours and contact information should appear near the top of the site and it should include easy to see buttons to checkout or request further information. The website should also be readable on a mobile phone which means using fewer words and keeping it simple. The last thing you want is a mobile user to have to zoom to find pertinent information.
3. Checkout has to be a breeze.
Amazon may have pioneered the one-click checkout, but more and more online merchants are copying it. With shopping cart abandonment a huge problem, they know requiring consumers to jump through too many hoops is a deal-breaker.
Checkout buttons should also be more prominently displayed on a mobile-friendly website, and security certificates should also be easy to see. Those features inspire trust with consumers, which makes them more likely to purchase.
Lastly, limit the amount of information you require at checkout and consider using Google autofill to make it even easier for customers to make a purchase.
4. Accept different payment methods.
With digital money and peer-to-peer payments gaining in popularity, it’s important to accept different payment methods. The easier you make it to pay, the more sales you'll see. At the very least you should support PayPal, but also consider accepting other payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
5. Run it by Google.
Google offers a free way for businesses to ensure they're optimized for mobile. Through its Mobile Usability report, Google shows businesses which pages on their website have issues when viewed on a mobile device. You can click on specific pages to dive deeper into the issues and access information on how to fix it. You can also notify Google when the fixes are complete.
Like it or hate it, m-commerce is here to stay. It could even surpass Internet shopping in the decades to come. It's not only happening in the U.S. Globally smartphones are becoming the preferred way to communicate, search, bank, and eventually shop. Ignoring mobile isn't an option for any sized business selling products or services online. But the good news is it doesn't have to be an arduous task. Sometimes it just takes some mobile tweaks to your existing website to put you in front of a slew of potential customers.