While online selling has seen a significant boom in recent years with more and more people opting to purchase from the comfort of their own home rather than the local high street, there are still a huge number of online sales you are currently missing out on if you haven’t got a mobile version of your website.
Sure the number of online sales is on the rise each year, and yes a good number of those sales are being made via desktop computer, but the percentage of sales made via desktop computers is becoming a much lower amount of the total sales each year. For many consumers, one of the primary concerns when purchasing online is the ease in which they can make said purchase and the advancement of mobile and tablet platforms has made this easier than ever. A customer can now simply sit on their sofa, flick through a store, find what they want to purchase and then pay. Quick and easy with very limited fuss. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? An ideal way to purchase for both the customer and consumer. While this is true, the onus to achieve this type of transaction rests solely on the shoulders of the consumer to create the perfect platform for a mobile customer. If they don’t then this process goes from plain sailing to an absolute nightmare.
If you run an online business, a mobile site is something that should have been on your radar for a number of years. If you don’t already have an optimised mobile platform it’s something you should look to complete as soon as possible. However, when you do come to set up a fully optimised there are a number of hurdles you must first overcome to ensure that you don’t hinder your online performance in any way.
Easy Navigation & Purchase
This should be a given. When it comes to mobile commerce the whole point is to make it easy for a customer to purchase using their mobile phone or tablet device. For this reason a straight transition of your desktop website on to a mobile device just isn’t going to cut it. While your regular site is easy to navigate using a cursor and a desktop monitor, it’s not quite the same story when using a much smaller mobile screen and your index finger. Tapping on a small link or selecting a subcategory from a drop-down menu is incredibly difficult on a mobile device as the customer would be required to navigate around the screen and zoom in to try and make the link large enough to select. It makes for a very frustrating experience and one which will probably cause the customer to give up and go elsewhere.
When developing a mobile platform your navigation buttons should be minimal in design and easy to select with your finger. Not just that but the steps it takes for a customer to go from landing on your site to making a purchase must also fit within this efficient style that you’re trying to create. A mobile user doesn’t want to tick boxes or type in reams and reams of information, they just want to enter the basic essentials, card details and then checkout. If you can accommodate this you are going to have much happier customers who are making many more orders than what you previously saw.
When it comes to your mobile site people tend to overlook the impact the content on your mobile site could have on your overall SEO campaign. While there are some issues that must be considered, the impact on your SEO will be minimal. The fear factor many people instantly assume is that as there is similar content on both your mobile and desktop platforms, Google will interpret this as duplicate content and penalise you. While this in theory could happen , there are things you can do to avoid this issue. Adding canonical tags on all the mobile pages and alternate tags on the mobile home page to what you have on its desktop counterpart is one way to stop this issue occurring. When carrying this out you need to make sure that you give ample time for Google to crawl and index your mobile site correctly. Their algorithm is setup as such when it is incredibly unlikely that they would ever consider your mobile pages to be duplicates of your desktop site. Just to be on the safe side you should monitor it closely over the first few months to ensure nothing untoward has happened. That way, in the unlikely event that an issue does arise, you are in a position to act quickly before it causes any long terms damage to your SEPR ranking.
Speed Is King
If you thought customers want to buy as quickly as possible on your desktop computer, mobile purchasing is a completely different level altogether. Whether someone’s there to buy workwear, a new TV, cosmetics or anything else you can think of, one commonality between them all is that they want it now. If your mobile site takes longer than a couple of seconds to load, a customer is going to give up and look elsewhere. In those first few seconds you have lost a large number of potential customers.
So what causes a website to load slow? Well it’s a number of different aspects such as the sever which hosts the site, the number of pictures the home page holds and much more. This is a problem that’s regularly seen with online stores due to the number of product images that a page needs to load. However, it’s not just the number of picture files that need to load, but the size of each file. The higher quality images you use, the bigger file size they are and the longer they’ll need to load. Now this is where the juggling act comes in to play. You need to find the balance where your pictures and small enough that they load is a good amount of time but aren’t too small that you’re actually hampering the image quality and fail to entice your customer to purchase a particular product. If you can’t really reduce the resolution of your images anymore, you can still achieve the desired result by changing the image format. Many people tend to use PNG images are they provide the best quality picture and the most detail. Changing the image format from a PNG to a JPEG will help you greatly reduce the file size of the image within causing too much damage to the resolution.
While these may seem like rather tedious aspects to any mobile platform, if completed correctly you are going to find that you’ve got a mobile platform that performs well not only from a functionality point of view in terms of making it easy for customers to navigate and purchase, but also from a search engine point of view, helping to make both your desktop and mobile sites as optimised as possible.
This article was written by John Johnston. John is part of the marketing team for Workwear Express, the UK’s leading suppliers of staff uniforms, embroidered and promotional clothing.