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It’s in the numbers: get your channel mobile-ready

Blog post   •   Jul 05, 2018 14:25 GMT

Every quarter, the Dutch e-commerce organisation Thuiswinkel releases numbers on their market research regarding all things "home shopping". It tells a lot about the state of e-commerce and the direction online retail is heading towards. For today's blog post, Dennis de Rijke looks at mobile usage numbers, discusses industry experiences, and shares a few tips of his own on how to optimise for mobile.

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Today, I’ll be doing that by having a look at the Thuiswinkel Monitor, a quarterly report of the state of Dutch e-commerce. It basically shows how people buy things online. I often talk to companies looking to optimise their webshop. They want to create the best possible customer journey, of which bugs and usability issues are definitely no part. So, what do the numbers tell us? Well, for starters, we can see that most purchases online are still done on a laptop (52%), followed by desktops (33%). Compared to last year, that’s an increase for laptop purchases, but a decrease for desktop purchases.

Devices used in last quarter for online purchases. Source: Thuiswinkel.org

What about mobile purchases? Tablets show a small decrease as far as e-shopping on it goes. However, much as expected, there’s an increase in purchases made on smartphones, from 21% in Q4 2016 to 28% in Q4 2017. This is in line with the numbers on a global level as to be found in the Global Ecommerce Report 2017, released by Ecommerce Foundation. In it, it’s also stated that approximately 22% of global consumers purchase something via mobile on a weekly basis. An impressive number, which is bound to grow, I’m sure.

Going mobile

We can conclude that mobile purchases are slowly but steadily on their way up, as they have been in past years. One other fun fact from the ecommerce report: globally seen, fashion is the leading category for mobile purchasing. It should come as no surprise that last week during Emerce Fashion, an event aimed at the online fashion industry, Ine Polak of GfK stressed that online fashion retailers really should have, or get, their customer experience mobile-ready. Biggest issues for customers often are UX and usability-related: the unclear navigation and the payment process. Another talk that day by Freshcotton’s Pelle Bosma confirms this development, as he showed a very clear graph that beautifully illustrates how traffic is mostly mobile, but revenue and conversion are mostly desktop.

Freshcotton’s Pelle Bosma talking about mobile versus desktop. Photo: Bree Tahapary.

When asked what can be done to make the blue bar increase as far as conversions go, Bosma responded: “We’re aiming to optimise the checkout process. Yesterday, I ordered something online at one of the big retailers and after I was done I hardly noticed I just made a purchase. The process was just that smooth and we need to get there as well.”

Optimising for mobile

Big question would then be: what kind of things can specifically be done to get the best customer experience on mobile as well? Just a few pointers from my experience, talking to clients from all kinds of industries:

  • Keep different screen sizes in mind – Might sound obvious, but the screen real estate is smaller for mobile devices than it is for desktop. The use of responsive design makes it easy to adjust accordingly. However, for the presentation of information this is often disregarded unfortunately. Take different screen resolution into consideration, especially for the way you present your information. Reduce long texts and avoid unnecessary scrolling for example. Only causes sore thumbs in the end.
  • Offer options for guidance – It’s hard to stand-out, so you want to be creative with your design or UI. Creativity is encouraged, but you should be aware that people are habitual creatures. We love to recognise patterns and are comforted by repetition. Anything new might take longer to understand, and will not directly drive sales. In that case offer support with simple tooltips, a short video tutorial or a chat functionality.
  • Optimise the shopping cart – This is in line with what Polak and Bosma mentioned. It’s the most important part of the webshop as it is the place where conversions happen. Thoroughly think of the registration process and consider offering people to pay without registering and save them time. Also, paying online can still be tedious. Different banks use different verification methods, and you want to make sure all payment methods are covered. In short, make it as easy as possible for your customers.

This blog post was originally published on Testbirds.com.

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