Improving The Mobile E-Commerce Experience
Have you been shy about entering the mobile e-commerce sphere? Learn what works from the industry's trailblazers!
Let’s face it. Mobile shopping, especially on the smartphone, is still in its infancy.
Companies embracing it are trailblazers testing new ideas and shopping models. Pretty much every buyer uses a smartphone or tablet these days, and the youth audience is extremely connected, so there is a lot of room for companies to try new things and see huge success — and huge blunders. The issue becomes especially important as we approach the fourth quarter and the holiday shopping season.
The tiny screens of smartphones are an extreme challenge for user experience designers. Replicating the desktop experience simply isn’t a good idea on a smartphone. It will take time for companies to successfully find the best experience.
Truthfully, there isn’t going to be just one answer to the question of how to provide the best mobile experience. But if you haven’t embraced mobile e-commerce, it’s not too late — and now is the best time to start testing your adaptive design strategy to find what does work with your buyers.
Mobile e-commerce has been around for a few years now at least — so what do we know that does work on smartphones, that you can begin testing with your buying audience? What are the common things that the best marketers have implemented?
1. Navigation Styles For Everyone
• Swipers. Swipers are people who just love thumbing through your pictures and information to find what they are looking for or the best deal. One of the key reasons that the smartphone interface has been successful is that swiping as a means of navigation has been a very intuitive way to get where you want.
We even see commercials where people are swiping through screens of products on the TV to get what they want. It is an intuitive way of digging through choices. As long as people can read what’s on the screen, they are happy to swipe and tap their way to get to the product they want.
• Searchers. This is a pretty simple one. Just like the desktop, mobile buyers have different styles of navigation that they prefer. Searchers simply prefer to use your on-site search to find what they want. This is probably their main way of navigating websites on the desktop, and there is no reason for them to switch for mobile devices, assuming search produces what they want easily and quickly.
Costco has a pretty good mobile app. They’ve been in the mobile space for a long time now, and they know what works.
I really like the use of search on their mobile app. The search button is present in the same spot all the way through the experience. With a huge catalog like theirs, search is going to be one of the fastest ways for buyers to move around. Notice how obvious it is and big it is. It takes up a large chunk of screen space because they know people use it and it works.
2. Leveraging The Power Of The Smartphone
As we’ve experienced, the smartphone isn’t really a great device for browsing lots of products. For shopping, it must be designed to quickly find what you want. But shopping apps can be designed to enhance the user experience in the store.
I’ve often walked into a store, scanned a barcode with my smartphone, found a better price online and gotten the reduced price from the store. Many of the big box stores have adopted this policy.
Stores are changing their policies because buyers have so much more information at their fingertips. I imagine some stores wish they could disable all our mobile devices because of this, but it is truly an opportunity to up-sell rather than lose revenue.
People are going to use their phones to do research, so you need to find interesting ways of helping out and increasing in-store purchase amounts.
For instance, consider providing an app for your store that lets people scan barcodes, and, when they do so, shows related items that other people have bought. If people buy shoes, then you could suggest a pair of socks, or better yet, a dress that goes with those shoes.
Considering how successful sales are at bringing in crowds, app-only based sales would drive a considerable amount of word of mouth with buyers if they thought they were getting a great deal using it. If they do have your app and they start it up, you should always ask if you can detect their location. Most people will allow this if they know the company.
Assuming they do allow geo-detection when near a store, offer an item up for sale to bring them in. If they aren’t near the store, consider offering content that is useful and related to products they have purchased through the app, or show a product they can order right now through the app based on past purchasing history.
The ideas are limitless, but the experience should never be the same as what they experience in a desktop browser or even a tablet (Hint: Responsive design based off of your main website for e-commerce isn’t enough).
3. Fat Design Is Easier On The Eyes
With readability and navigation being such major issues for the smartphone, Fat Design is better than small. It should be swipeable and very intuitive so that people can easily move around to find what they want quickly or casually browse your inventory.
Buttons should be big, preferably flat, with high contrast fonts that are also large. Buttons shouldn’t require users to use the tip of their pinky to click on what they want. This will drive your app users batty and your app will be quickly deleted from their phone.
Below are a couple of designs you should checkout which have great carts that do a pretty-good job of this concept:
One of the best shopping experiences. No, I’m not into knitting, but I do love great design.
Another great shopping app that is extremely simple. It’s how shopping should be done on the smartphone.
Nice design with easy to click buttons and inventory to swipe through. Great experience.
So What Is The Takeaway From This?
Below is a checklist you can use for your mobile e-commerce campaigns and when testing your buying audience:
- Make it easy on the eyes
- Don’t take a shortcut and simply make a responsive version of your store
- Design for swipers AND searchers
- Easy to read, easy to use, easy to buy
- Enable people with new ways to shop your store