Peter Boyle
Peter Boyle | October 6, 2015
Conversion optimisation specialist

As mobile use continues to rise, we pinpoint the main sticking points and false beliefs preventing marketers from achieving m-commerce success.

The average smartphone owner checks their device 221 times per day, using it for everything from getting directions to purchasing goods.

The mobile market has changed faster than any other and in 2014 internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage for the first time in history.

Time Spent on Internet by Device
Image Credit

So why is it, with such a vast number of people using their mobile devices so many times every single day, that mobile conversion rates are so low?

The problem lies in how we optimise for mobile. Too many marketers view their mobile campaign as a simple add on to their overall optimisation efforts. It isn’t given the respect or time it deserves and as a result, fails to perform.

The first step to increasing your mobile conversion rates is to allocate enough time to properly optimise your mobile funnel. However, before you get stuck into your optimisation, let’s take a look at the main sticking points and false beliefs that prevent marketers from achieving M-Commerce success.

The common consensus that mobile is for browsing/research

There’s a prevailing view that mobile is used only to browse and research products. For a long time this belief held true. The small displays and lack of mobile friendly designs made the purchasing process too much of a chore. It was easier to complete the purchase of a product you’d discovered on mobile when later sat at a fixed point device.

This habit leads to marketers almost overlooking any optimisation of the mobile process, instead focusing on encouraging cross device conversions.

However, the larger displays of tablets and phablets and the introduction of mobile optimised sites have seen a dramatic shift in M-Commerce behaviour.

We’re seeing huge increases in the number of customers who are progressing past the browsing phase of their journey, often completing their purchase on a mobile device.

Japan, whose mobile habits have historically acted as a precursor to those across the globe, recently saw over 50% of eCommerce transactions via mobile. Japan isn’t alone in seeing these gains. South Korea has similar statistics with the UK not far behind.

If the global mobile market follows its historical pattern by mimicking Japanese developments, it won’t be long until mobile conversions across the globe exceed 50%. Now is the perfect time to look at your mobile site and get it ready for what seems set to be a huge increase in M-Commerce sales.

The mobile purchasing experience is dreadful

Thanks to a lack of mobile optimisation the purchasing experience on mobile devices is extremely poor.

As a society we’ve moved past the need for shopping simply for necessities. We don’t buy clothes based solely on their usefulness or practical application but rather for the way they make us look and feel.

We’ve turned the experience of shopping from a gathering of necessary items into an enjoyable, often social activity. And this is where poor mobile optimisation lets you down.

Mobile sites are confusing, difficult to navigate and make the whole process seem more hassle than it’s worth. Thanks to poor optimisation there’s little joy to be found in M-Commerce purchases.

The problems manifest around two primary related areas. Below we’ve listed these areas and how they affect the overall mobile experience.

Mobile displays are too small

Smartphone displays are incredibly small. Whilst phablet screens are managing to strike a balance between smartphones and tablet sizes their screen still causes design problems and makes navigation quite difficult.

With such little on screen real estate to play with it’s often difficult to display key persuasion elements such as reviews, background information or even comprehensive product images. Many marketers rely on responsive themes to properly arrange the design of their site. Whilst this will include everything that you can find on your desktop site, it’s a poor solution to the problem.

Responsive themes treat content like water, pouring everything from your desktop site into different display sizes with no thought about what would work better for conversions. Not cutting any content or using mobile specific elements can make mobile navigation and use incredibly confusing.

Take the below phone comparison page from Apple as an example.

Mobile comparison Apple

If you relied on a responsive design the outcome on mobile would be pretty horrific. Whilst it works well on a desktop, customers would have to scroll numerous directions for an average understanding of the comparable stats.

However, Apple haven’t relied on responsive design and have done a great job of optimising the above page for mobile. Instead of repurposing all content they’ve chosen to reduce their display to the two most popular options.

iPhone comparison

The same tactic needs to be applied to all design and copy elements. You can’t rely on responsive design to fix all the problems. You need to look at the various elements of your page, decide what’s important and choose how best to display them on the smaller screen size.

It’s less about the actual design of the site and more to do with user experience. Ask yourself if you’re optimising your site to look good on mobile, or if you’re taking the beneficial steps of making it easy to use. Only the latter leads to higher conversions.

Network speeds

Website speed has always been a big issue with conversion optimisation. Whilst mobile network speeds have come a long way, they’re still nowhere near the speed or reliability of a desktop connection.

Audience attention spans are short meaning prospects won’t wait around for your page to load. Various studies have been conducted into the area of page load times and the general consensus has the ‘tolerable wait time’ pinned at between two and three seconds.

internet attention spans for eCommerce

This extremely low tolerance poses huge problems for the M-Commerce marketer, problems which are often addressed in one of two ways:

1. Leave responsive design to handle the transfer to mobile and hope for the best

2. Strip your page of all unnecessary visual elements to speed load time

Neither of which is a good fix. As already mentioned responsive design simply reorganises all on page elements which will actually increase your mobile load times.

Stripping your page of all unnecessary elements makes for an incredibly bland and boring experience. Without product images you’re taking further steps to suck the excitement and joy out of online shopping.

So what can you do?

As with design you need to carefully select the elements that are going to be displayed to mobile users. This should reduce the time to load whilst also avoiding major negative impact to your key persuasion elements.

However, there are also two smart tactics you can employ to help speed up the process.

1. Develop an eCommerce app and pre load information customers might ask for to reduce loading time

2. Use button and on screen animations to mask the longer loading times while key information is downloaded

Reducing load times is one of the more difficult aspects of optimisation as you’ve got to strike a balance that enables quick loading but doesn’t sacrifice the persuasion points. Remember that when you’re looking at the design it’s not just about aesthetic preference, you’re aiming to reduce load times and improve the user experience.

In conclusion

You can’t afford to overlook your M-Commerce campaigns anymore. The number of users relying on mobile devices has already exceeded their desktop counterparts in certain world territories and it seems set to continue along that path.

Everything points to mobile devices becoming the go to method for online customers to browse, research and purchase their products. Giving your mobile campaign the time and respect it deserves isn’t just about increasing short-term conversions, it’s about future proofing your brand.

If you’d like to learn more about M-Commerce and how you can better optimise the experience for a great lift in conversions, take a look at our free in depth M-Commerce Guide.