The 7 Sins of Mobile Commerce Retailers Guilty Of
Mobile commerce could be a great launch or an entry channel for any retailer with the potential for the most engaging shopper behavior, if you know how to do it right. eCommerce players like JackThreads, Etsy, Staples and Virgin Airlines – all took early risks and paved the path for more enjoyable mobile shopping experience. And today, fast and sensible mobile shopping is expected by many of us, no matter what size is your online store. Yet, despite the mobile reality, many of ecommerce sites still fall prey into the 7 sins of doing it wrong, or being lazy and “drop-any-excuse-here”-justified. For big and medium size retailers, mobile shopping is seen as a supplementary channel, and thus it gets supplementary attention (if any left). When you are a small or growing estore, you do not have that luxury of anything supplemental. And still, even small online stores commit those crimes. Are you doing it as well?
My list of the 7 offenders includes:
1. Relying on responsive design from the platform templates and leaving it at this. You can get hit with loss of buyers from 2 fronts: in the shopping cart and on the backend.
Here we have a site that sells Google Glass Design Accessories. It is responsive, yet limited to the template from the platform, Shopify. It is responsive but not very much optimized for shopping well, too many distractions in the design as you can see – the breadcrumbs, links and elements that could have been avoided. They just create extra noise here. This could be a budget issue if you are a small store or an oversight if you are big.
On the other hand, it might still work because here we only deal with a single category product. But what happens if you sell many categories? Then, responsive from the out of the box template might not work at all. Plus, the backend issues start popping up: slow connectivity affects your SKUs and images to load, ecommerce merchandising is a challenge to showcase your top sellers. Thus, it does make a difference to go adaptive design (a step back, yet working well for eCommerce, when you do need to create a custom, minimalistic, yet serving your kind of business experience with the backend server for speed). This is what Fathead learnt by going responsive and back-pedaling to adaptive as they discovered its limitations.
2. Assuming mobile users do not buy or do so less also happens a lot. Staples used to drive its mobile shoppers to offline local stores, thinking that no one wants to buy office stationary on their devices, until they analyzed the data, ran some tests and re-prioritized the design. Many of its shoppers in fact preferred to buy via mobile and be done with it. So, do not make any assumptions no matter of your product category. It is like saying my grandma is not going to date online, when she might be very likely these days strike new friendships on senior daters.com or whatever her target audience (dating preference) site is. Test, ask, survey, do not assume.
3. Not using data about the context is the opposite scenario when you can get contextual mobile shopping and browsing data that tells you where and at what time your shoppers do the deed, and I mean purchases here. Thus, offering local or timely promotions, personalizing the shopping experience is an opportunity too good to waste. Contextual insights might come from mobile search queries, some ad-targeting services and survey results from your customers on when and how they shop for your kind of products.
4. Not optimizing native apps for conversion & retention (deep-linking, anyone?) is the most foul of all to me. How this happens?
- An average ecommerce site might be responsive, capturing new users, might also have an app, dealing with converted and repeat buyers. Many of times, the flows from the responsive site to the app might not be linked & integrated.
- Some brands might have many apps.
- In addition, much budget is spent on retargeting, search, display and social ads, just PPC monthly spend for a given top retailer ranges around 80K to keep the traffic pipeline alive. Big chunk of it is on mobile.
- Most of the times, the landing experience is broken and requires re-login or extra effort from users, which is a waste.
The opportunity for running more shoppers across your mobile experiences is missed here and could be of equivalent to doubling the revenue per user. One best-case example is a local startup Threadflip that explored deep links from its mobile display ads to specific items on sale and enjoyed the lift.
5. Not evolving its customer service beyond the phone call (users just want to contact customer service fast, yet also do so without a usual call these days). We live on mobile, yet prefer to do less phone calls and more video, scrolling, tapping and picture sharing. Thus, do offer this opportunity as a new way to service your customers and differentiate your online store as well. They are tools for very small estores (some listed in my book in the resources chapter). Where to get ideas on how to do so from the user experience?
- Grainger now offers Live Chat with Image sharing, which resolves issues faster, then typing & talking.
- Home Depot allows for audio search for contractors on the go.
- Other retailers use texts efficiently – shop mobile on Walgreens.
- Amazon uses video well on its Kindle fire devices – recall the Mayday button – that is a live video assistance.
Offering mobile customer service is a new way could be a key asset to a B2B ecommerce site, like for people looking for parts and sending images or talking to sales support on FaceTime and closing high item orders.
6. Not testing a complete shopping experience (especially international transactions & fulfillment) is actually a risk you run. I have seen sites that are eager to sell overseas, yet skipped on testing the entire shopping experience which might result in penalties, legal issues and lost sales. This is especially critical for brand sites that wish to enter new markets and sell direct, thus enjoying more profit margins vs. dealing with the local offline and online retailers. Even if you are a team of two people, it makes sense to find individuals to fully transact and record the full mobile shopping experience in each new country you are launching at. Even if your fulfillment is done by the 3rd party, you can discover the gaps to fix.
7. Stop testing after initial launch, while mobile shopping evolving. Some ecommerce sites launch and forget; yet others continue testing with shoppers & making it easier, simpler and more mobile friendly for those who come. You have to change or you lose your sales to another competitor that serves the same product better. See how Virgin Airlines mobile shopping evolved over time, starting from a pretty decent experience yet moving to something tap-friendly with big fonts and movements we now all do (side-swipes).
So, do not stop after the launch, iterate and change your mobile designs often.
The good news, you can prevent getting into those 7 traps if you design and build mCommerce experience with the purchase path in mind, while doing so through iterative testing.
That is what successful ecommerce players do. And you do not have to be a top 500 retailer with a huge budget to make it happen.
You might wonder what purchase mind mean?
Briefly, it is a shopping experience that leads to purchase easy, fast. On responsive site the key action would be to sign up to purchase and in app, do so with a tap.
A good example of the purchase path can be the experience that JackThreads, a clothing retailer creates for its customers. You can see the clean, distraction free path to buy. See their app experience and mobile site experience – both optimized for conversion that makes sense within the context: buy in the app and login on the mobile site.
Other ecommerce sites that are doing it right are EmCosmetics Staples, CafePress, GoPro and Walgreens.
What all these retailers do is outsource testing to professionals for broad and bias free coverage. Thus, achieving scale at testing fast and iteratively. In all cases, the costs of testing are covered within weeks or months by the ROI you get. Companies like Applause (which is also a startup that grew fast and is international (serves anyone, anywhere) allow you to scale your testing smart even if you are small startup (you can get quality services from $5,000 per year = you site will be testing all year round & you can optimize the entire shopping experience). Trulia did so for their apps and got over 280% ROI within a few weeks.
Testing for purchase path is just one strategy to increase online sales.
There are 18 more, plus over 200 tips and tools other eCommerce entrepreneurs do use for customer acquisition and online sales growth that are all described my book “Grow And Scale Your Online Store To Profit”. Get it on Amazon today (and use a number of discounted offers for professional tools not found elsewhere that are in the resources chapter, including the testing services).