Small Businesses, Mobile Traffic and Key Implications
The signs are everywhere – mobile technology is fast overtaking the desktop pc or laptop as the platform of choice for today’s internet user. Last September, it was reported that more tablets than laptops and desktop pc’s combined would ship in the final quarter of 2013.
If eCommerce operators weren’t paying attention to that useful stat, perhaps they’ll look a little closer at the latest bit of info pointing to how things are shaping up for the future.
A recent report by business advisors PwC has revealed that in August and September 2013, the use of pc’s in eCommerce dropped by 7% compared to the same period in 2012. Now, get this: at the same time, the use of mobile phones for shopping online rose by 46% and the use of tablets rose by 50%.
At Davpack, we launched a mobile optimised version of our online store earlier this year and we’re already seeing some interesting results. If you’re not planning a mobile future for your business, you could be missing out big time – and here are five key reasons it’s about time you gave the matter some serious consideration.
1 If you don’t get on board now, you will be left behind
Have you noticed that having a tablet or smartphone allows you to work better, because you can conduct more of your business on the move and less sat at your desk? And that by doing so you’re finding you can react more quickly to emails, enquiries and leads? Well, here’s a hint: so is everyone else.
The world is moving ever faster and competition is getting ever tighter. Being able to buy materials and organise logistics anytime, anywhere, can give you a massive head start if you’re negotiating a deal with a tight deadline. Waiting until you get to the office can mean putting back the time you receive your order by another 24 hours or even missing out entirely. In today’s cutthroat world, that can mean the difference between winning and losing a vital contract.
It also means you can make valuable use of what might otherwise be dead time: long train journeys, lunch, or sitting on the sofa while the rest of the family watches Coronation Street. Ordering things like the cardboard boxes and other packaging needed to support your latest order should be a straightforward process, done when it suits you, not limited by the 9-to-5 office hours of your supplier.
If you recognise the above as a client or a consumer, you also need to recognise it as a business, and understand that this kind of convenience isn’t only what your customers will be wanting; it’s what they will be demanding. If you’re not there already, it’s time to get on board.
Each step forward means some get left behind, and those that do rarely get the chance to catch up again.
The sum of all that is that people will be visiting your estore via a small screen; if what they find when they get there is the same as they’d find on a bigger screen but smaller, more difficult to read and even harder to order through, they may just give in and try someone else a little more in touch with trading 2014-style.
I feel like I say this in every blog I write, but today’s internet browser and shopper can be incredibly impatient, so you need to make sure that the second they land on your site, they can see that they’re at the right place and what they need to do next. They don’t want to have to zoom in with their fingers and then shift the page around to read everything or find your ‘buy now’ buttons.
So think carefully about how you use the smaller screen of a smartphone or tablet to present your site and your product. Cut down on the amount of copy, make sure your navigation menu is clear and easy to follow and make sure your ‘call to action’ buttons can be quickly and accurately used by even the fattest of fingers.
If you’re in need of a little inspiration, look to the top of this page or click here if you’re reading this on your tablet or smartphone, and you’ll be able to see how we’ve altered our website to suit the smaller space.
Incidentally, part of that process of making your site suitable for mobile devices is keeping it simple. I know it’s tempting to include some Flash animation to make you look clever, but unfortunately many tablets don’t currently support Flash, so not only might you be wasting your time (and slowing down the speed your site loads – an important consideration), but also making your site less user-friendly for your customer.
3 Your email campaigns will get more hits
Where are you reading your emails these days? If you’re like the rest of us, you’re doing it more on your mobile or tablet than you are sat at your desk. I won’t quote all the stats because they quickly go out of date, but this site regularly updates its info – and the evidence is overwhelming.
If you’re promoting a special offer in an email campaign, your best chance of making the sale is if your customers can respond immediately, while the information is still fresh in their minds. If they have to wait until they’re back in the office, later in the day, chances are they’ll have forgotten all about it and you’ll have missed your opportunity.
If they can click on your links there and then, and go straight onto an optimised page that’s easy to read and easy to use, they’ll be far more likely to follow up that initial interest with an actual purchase.
We already knew this, because we analyse the results of our email campaigns and we’ve seen a steady rise in the number of people clicking through from mobile devices. Now our site has been optimised for those mobile platforms, we’re seeing those numbers rising even faster and we expect to see significant benefits in the coming months.
4 The generation game
We’re not really letting anyone off, because a modern e-store should now automatically mean one that has also been optimised for mobile devices. After all, the silver surfers of today have had 20 years to get to grips with internet technology and can’t be compared to the more technophobic profile that would have been around when the term was first coined.
But if your target market is under 40, then you really have less than no excuse. Because, and you probably know this without me telling you, younger consumers are more savvy with their mobile devices than their parents. They’re also less likely to worry about security, and whether someone can steal their credit card details as they wing their way through the air to wherever it is they go when you input them online.
In other words, if you’re trying to sell to that age bracket online, you’ll probably sell a lot more if you make it easier for them to buy your products from mobile devices.
Now, if you really want to get ahead of the game and target an as-yet untapped market, this report suggests that an incredible 38% of children under the age of two have used a smartphone or tablet. That might be taking playing the generation game a little far though…
5 Timing Out
What can be more frustrating than being midway through your shopping experience, and going through a tunnel or temporarily moving through a bad signal area, only to then find that the site you were on has timed you out?
Sure, there are good reasons for tightening security, particularly if you are accessing your bank account, or at the checkout stage of a shopping site. Evidence shows that people are worried about giving away personal information and credit card details anywhere, and they feel even more vulnerable when asked to do so on a mobile phone or tablet. Small portable devices connecting to multiple networks are going to be more prone to theft and security risks (by the way there is a lot people can do to greatly reduce the risk of fraud and data theft).
However, as an eCommerce business, you don’t want to be constantly throwing people out of your shop. So focusing on page load speed and fast basket building will help more of your customers to shop on the go. Once logged in or at payment stage – well, that’s a different matter.
6 Only 5 implications?
For now, although there are more implications of the mobile boom for your business, such as the changes that search engines are making to deliver results on the go.
Why not join in the discussion and help us share more implications, and let us know what you think businesses should be doing to adapt to the mobile shopper.