The importance of mobile is nothing new. From an SEO perspective, Google set its 'mobile-friendly' deadline as far back as 2015. Yet there has been a recent revelation from the search engine giant which emphasises why mobile should now be the focus of your online store: mobile first indexing.
What is 'mobile first'?
Until now, an optimised site for desktop has generally been sufficient to keep you in the picture on the ‘search engine results page’ (SERPs) for mobile. While Google has maintained separate indices for both, greater significance has been attached to desktop. Yet Google decided that it could no longer ignore the exponential growth of mobile traffic volumes.
Last October, a study published by Consultancy.uk found that 85 per cent of British citizens use a smartphone, compared with just 78 per cent who owned a laptop. Of these respondents, 91 per cent use their smartphone every day, while just 68 per cent of laptop owners open their screens on a daily basis. This has resulted in a surge of mobile online shopping; coinciding with a decline in its desktop equivalent.
It's not hard to understand why - accessing a smartphone is far more convenient than desktop, and the gap in terms of usability, capability and speed has closed considerably. As such, your mobile site has become the first port of call in terms of what Google includes in its index.
What are the implications for my online store?
SEO might not be the primary focus of your strategy, but it nevertheless reflects the demands of the typical consumer. After all, Google's raison d'être is to enhance the ordinary person's online experience. So, what does this mean for online retailers? After all, you may point to the fact that your site has passed the mobile-friendly test and consider it job done.
Yet an online merchant has one key component that many websites do not: checkout. And converting customers with a basket full of items is what will ultimately make or break your business. To help you optimise your mobile checkout page, we've highlighted some useful tips below...
1) Time is money - Attention spans have become vanishingly brief, so if you have blockers in the way such as poor page-load speeds, an obligation to create an account, multiple application pages or endless forms, you can expect many online shoppers to take their business elsewhere - especially on mobile, where these pain-points are amplified. Keep it simple, keep it efficient and streamline the number of steps in the payment approval process to an absolute minimum.
2) Support mobile wallets - Mobile wallets, or digital wallets, store encrypted card details, enabling one-click purchases at the point of checkout. Apple Pay is an obvious example, but it's imperative that your payment system supports all such software. In return for your customers not having to manually enter credit card information, you can expect circa three-fold uplift in conversion.
3) Steer clear of pop-ups – Automatic pop ups and auto-play videos are annoying enough on desktop. In fact, Google 'I hate pop-ups', and you'll find roughly 10 million results. But on mobile, they're a dead cert to do more harm than good. Real estate on a mobile screen is precious, and another touchpoint or distraction in the journey will damage conversion.
4) Prioritise mobile design - Usually, the emphasis is on desktop design and layout, with mobile being an afterthought. Yet customers care about mobile design more than ever. A SWEOR study found that, on average, users form an opinion on a website within 0.05 seconds. Design and visuals are the only elements which can be absorbed in that time, so, given the soaring volumes of mobile traffic, it's essential that all imagery, CTAs and content are laid out to perfection, fit well to screen, and look every bit as good on mobile as on desktop.
5) Be transparent about caveats - Being upfront about extra shipping costs or delayed delivery times should apply to all devices, but especially mobile. Nasty surprises at the point of checkout are one of the leading causes of cart abandonment, and irritation levels are likely to be higher on mobile, given that the journey to that point is more capricious. Shoppers may not be pleased to learn of any caveats early on, but it will be less of a deal-breaker than discovering it as they're about to check out.
Get ahead of the mobile curve
A snapshot of mobile's upward trajectory was Black Friday weekend in November. We've grown accustomed to overcrowded stores, but this time round, there was a conspicuously manageable number of feet through the door. Shoppers chose to dodge the crowds, and instead we saw UK e-commerce smash records set in previous years. According to the Consumer Technology Association, 41 per cent of devices used to buy goods that weekend were smartphones.
If you square that kind of data with the fact that mobile cart abandonment, according to various studies, sits anywhere between 60 to 90 per cent, then there are billions of pounds in lost revenue up for grabs each year if you can find the mobile sweet spot.
Remember, optimising your online store for mobile starts before the checkout process. Responsive design, UX, the way your products are presented, enticing CTAs, ease of navigation, how content is laid out - along with little things such as optimised fields and progress indicators - will get you moving in the right direction.
Combine all this with a frictionless customer journey, simple checkout process and efficient payment system, and your online store will be a magnet for an exponentially-growing mobile audience.
Another way to optimise your sales is by implementing retail point-of-sale finance. Click here to find out more about Lending Works’ retail finance platform.