Mobile commerce

August 4th, 2011

If you are an online retailer or e-commerce store without mobile commerce capabilities, you could be missing a big amount of sales. Smartphones have changed the way people shop.

Millions of users are now accessing retail sites via mobile devices, and that number will increase as the time goes on. According to recent study by Nielsen, traffic to mobile commerce sites and applications increased 50%.

In most of the cases, you don’t need to have to make large investments in new technologies to support mobile expansion. If you have a website, you can easily optimize it for mobile web. Extend as much of your existing set-up as possible into mobile channel to maximize your investments.

There are some key elements that you need to keep in mind when designing your mobile site:

  • High mobile expectations. 80% expect the mobile experience to be at least as good as in-store shopping. 85% expect it to be at least as good as using a traditional PC.
  • Risk of losing customers. 63% of online adults said they would be less likely to buy from the same company via other purchase channels if they ran into trouble with a mobile transaction.
  • Mounting frustration. Mobile users say they find mobile transaction problems very frustrating. 23% have cursed at their phones. 11% have screamed at their phones. 4% have thrown their mobile devices!

A well designed mobile website should look different, but not necessarily require a separate platform or backend. When you visit a site from a mobile phone, you should be seamlessly shown the mobile version of the site.

A common issue is that many people assume that the way to get a mobile version of their website to is to strip out content or features that they think are not relevant to mobile users – essentially creating a ‘lite’ version of the site. To be fair, a mobile website requires a focused, simple interface – but customers don’t want a ‘dumbed-down’ version of a site, they want a uncomplicated and easy to use site, and that is a big difference.

Try to use identical icons and images on its desktop and mobile sites. The uniformity of design and navigation means that customers familiar with the website will feel right at home on the mobile site.

Good navigation is vital, don’t make buttons small – keep them ‘finger-friendly’. The use of images can make a big different – it is important to remember that it’s harder to sell products that mobile shoppers cannot see.

Mobile Website or Mobile Application?

For the most e-commerce systems, a mobile version of your existing website will make more sense than developing a mobile application. A mobile website can be accessed by any mobile user, regardless of which mobile system they are using, without the user needing to do anything more than navigate to the correct URL. With applications, you need to create a different application for each platform, such as iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. You then need to have the mobile users download and install that application before they can use it. This in turn requires that your application is submitted to the relevant application store, where it must be approved before it can be downloaded. It some cases, the application store may even require a share of all revenue generated by the application.

Should you then decide you need to make some changes or updates, with a mobile website you can simply make those changes whenever you want. All users then see the new version the next time they browse the site. With an application, the updated application will need to go through the approval process again, and then you need to get all your existing users to re-download and re-install the application. Your systems will need to be able to deal with handling multiple versions of the application as some users may not update to the latest version.

Key areas where applications have an advantage over mobile websites can be in performance, and in possibly offering an enhanced user experience as the application can have full control of the user interface, access alternate input devices such as the camera and microphone, and may be able to read other sensor information that the mobile makes available.

Taking Payment

In just the same way as would happen with a regular e-commerce site, at some point the customer is actually going to want to pay for something.

If you use our hosted payment pages, then that stage is easy. Just as you would with customers from your regular site, simply post the purchase details to the Innovate Payments gateway and a mobile version of the payment pages will be displayed.

If you are using the remote API, then you will need to ensure that your payment pages can be displayed correctly on a mobile device, and that they are easy to navigate and use.