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How to optimize ecommerce selling on mobile

illustration of a person reaching for a gear with a circle of arrows on it. the right is a mobile ecommerce screen.

In 2022, it’s hard to imagine a world without mobile devices. It seems that everywhere we go, our phones go with us – and they’re no longer made for simply calling and texting.

With easy access to social media, ecommerce sites, and Google searches, cell phones have become our very own computers, messaging platforms, and personal shopping centers – right in the palm of our hands.

It’s projected mobile shoppers will account for 6.9% of all retail transactions this year. This may seem like a smaller percentage, but it’s climbing quickly. By 2025, mobile ecommerce is expected to exceed 10% of all US retail sales – up seven percentage points since 2018.

Needless to say, if you haven’t begun already, it’s high time to optimize your ecommerce site for mobile devices.

Fear not, we’ve got you covered!

What is mobile optimization?

Simply put, mobile optimization is the process of making your online store… well… more mobile! Without it, customers visiting your site from their smartphones or tablets are likely to have a poor user experience.

With so many consumers using their mobile devices to browse and buy from online retailers, it only makes sense that merchants should begin thinking about how their sites work on different screens.

If your ecommerce website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, there’s a chance that the load times will be long, the design will be unsuited to smaller screen sizes, and calls to action might be lost – frustrations that could eventually cause a potential customer to exit your site.

Instead of simply making things mobile-friendly by shrinking images and text to fit on mobile screens, mobile optimization goes a few steps further by taking into account the site structure, size of navigation buttons (for fingers and thumbs, rather than a keyboard or mouse) and reformatted content.

Why it’s essential to optimize your online store for mobile shopping

With mobile ecommerce (a.k.a. m-commerce) on the rise, ecommerce brands need to stay ahead of the game and make sure their online stores offer the most seamless mobile shopping experience. Doing so will not only help attract traffic, it shows your customers that you’re committed to the continuous improvement of your selling channels.

Mobile users aren’t just browsing – they’re buying

Mobile users are spending money – and a lot of it. In 2021, retail m-commerce sales reached $359.32 billion, an increase of 15.2% over 2020.

In 2022, they’re expected to bring in over $276 billion in revenue via smartphones alone. Why? Since consumers are already doing most of their research via mobile devices, it only makes sense they’re completing the process in the same way.

Plus, today’s mobile integrations make purchasing online via smartphones exceedingly easy. With digital wallet options like Apple pay, Google pay, and more – online shoppers have the option for a quick and seamless checkout process.

BUT: Many consumers are disappointed by mobile shopping experiences

For most online stores, the customer experience is just not up to par. Usually, a customer will make their way to an ecommerce shop – only to find that it’s optimized for a desktop site. This means slow loading times, scarce product pages, complicated checkout process, and more – all hindering the site’s mobile conversions.

Search engines favor online stores that are optimized for mobile

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key factor in expanding brand reach and getting noticed by customers who are already interested in a product you offer. A little secret? Ranking now takes into account whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

In 2018, Google added page speed for mobile searches as a factor in page ranking. This means that if your mobile site lags, it’s a penalty against your overall place. To ensure your spot on the first page of searches, your site speed has to be good – every second counts!

Gen Z and Millennials love mobile commerce

Gen Z and Millennials are inherently more attached to their smartphones. They grew up in a world where it’s the norm to have instant access to the internet at all times – right from their devices.

Plus, these younger generations are more open to using different sales channels for purchasing than their older counterparts. In fact, a study by Klarna found that 48% of Millennials shop on their phones at least once per week.

It’s clear that Millennials and Gen Z are fuelling the mobile shopping boom – but they also have higher expectations for the mobile shopping experience. They want easy access to smart devices, social media shopping, self-service, and quick response times – all while remaining authentic.

If the first thing they notice when visiting a website is that it loads slowly, this might be enough for them to try another site before exploring further. It’s imperative for brands to optimize their sites to provide the best mobile experience possible.

What are common pain points that consumers encounter when shopping via mobile?

When developing a mobile site, there are important elements that need to be addressed so not to cause concern or frustration for your customers. Luckily, some of the most common pain points can be fixed quite easily.

  • Slow site speed. If your pictures and text are made to fit the size of a computer screen, your mobile site will take quite some time to load. As we mentioned, site speed can seriously affect your search engine rankings.
  • Small CTAs. We move around on our mobile devices using thumbs and index fingers. If CTAs, purchase confirmation buttons, or add-to-cart icons are too small, it can result in mistaken clicks and a lot of friction in the customer experience. Mobile ecommerce revolves around smartphones, tablets, and other devices that need larger text, scrolling capabilities, and easy navigation.
  • Not enough scrolling. Smartphones were essentially made for scrolling. It’s the quickest way to navigate, and with the “endless scroll” available on almost every social media app is what your customers will be used to. If your site has one pop-up too many or requires lots of clicking and typing, you’ll need to readjust your interface.
  • Lack of product details. While mobile sites should have a focus on images, videos, quick scrolling, and other mobile-friendly techniques – it’s important to make sure that the proper product information is still easily accessible to mobile users. After all, they are spending most of their time researching products before buying – keeping the product information accessible will help them make purchasing decisions.

While mobile ecommerce is growing rapidly, mobile users are some of the most difficult to complete the full buying journey. In fact, they have the highest rate of cart abandonment at over 80%.

If the above points aren’t addressed, your ecommerce business is at risk of bringing potential customers to a tipping point, leaving your site with only a negative impression.

Ways to optimize your ecommerce store for mobile devices

So, how can you address those problems we discussed above to remove friction to the mobile shopping experience?

Improve loading speeds

There are few things more frustrating than a slow website. Whether it’s product pictures that won’t load, text that won’t display, or a CTA that doesn’t take you anywhere, site speed can become the bane of a mobile shopper’s existence.

Improving your site’s loading speeds will not only provide a more enjoyable experience for your customer; it will help your brand climb the search rankings, bringing in more mobile traffic.

How can an ecommerce site make sure its speeds are up to standard? Steps like enabling image compression, optimizing images, shortening content, avoiding redirects, and minimizing HTTP requests should do the trick.

If this sounds like a totally different language, partnering with an optimization company like Whiplash partner YOTTA can help you enhance overall site performance, boost conversions, improve SEO, and deliver above-average visitor expectations.

Choose a responsive web design

Even if your ecommerce site is incredibly engaging and user-friendly, it may not translate as well on mobile phones. This is where responsive design comes into play. Responsive websites will adjust dimensions to fit whatever device your customers are browsing from.

Meaning, you don’t have to create multiple versions of your website, saving your in-house team time and energy to focus on larger projects and making content the most important element of your site.

While some ecommerce sites like Squarespace and WebFlow have mobile design easily built-in, others may require you to work with a web developer to ensure proper responsiveness.

Make an effort to serve localized information

Customers are more likely to make location-specific searches on mobile devices, which opens up a world of opportunities for ecommerce brands.

Instead of having all of your product or service information on one landing page, you can develop location-specific landing pages that immediately create a more personalized experience for your potential customers.

Keep important content and CTAs above-the-fold

The term “above-the-fold” comes from the world of print. It refers to the upper half of the newspaper where the cover story is usually printed. So, what does this mean for websites? Basically, your CTA shouldn’t be falling within the bottom half of your site.

Keeping important content and the most relevant information like promotions, new products, and call to action buttons at the top of your mobile site paves an easy path for your customers, helping them to kickstart their purchasing journey and find the most relevant information.

A great example is Everlane’s mobile site below, where they included a CTA for their new spring line at the very top of the page:

everlane mobile product landing page

Embrace digital payment methods

We’ve seen more payment options than ever before in this digital age… mainly because we now have the technology to create new options, but also because customer experience expectations are at an all-time high.

  • Digital wallets. Digital wallets are seeing major growth right now, largely due to convenience and fewer security concerns when making purchases online.
  • Embedded payments. Keeping a customer’s payment info on file via embedded payments means a larger focus on the product or service, rather than the cost. In sum, customers get to remove the whole payment process step, creating a faster, more seamless checkout.
  • Cryptocurrency. Consumers are beginning to see cryptocurrency as an alternative to traditional commerce – which means major opportunities for customer satisfaction with merchants who implement usage early.

Keep pop-ups to a minimum

Imagine heading to a brand site, only to have multiple pop-ups at every touchpoint:

“Do you want 10% off? Enter your email.”

“Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss a beat!”

“Check out our Spring Sale!”

Suddenly, you’ve forgotten why you came to the site in the first place.

While a pop-up might work on a desktop where it doesn’t take up the entire page, on a mobile device it could potentially throw your customers off track. It’s best to keep them to a minimum or ditch them all together for a mobile-optimized experience.

Use concise copy

What do many mobile devices and their users have in common? Smaller screens and shorter attention spans. Website copy plays a large role in mobile ecommerce sales, which is why it’s necessary to make every word count.

Because of the size of mobile devices, there’s zero need for fluff or fillers. It’s better to get straight to the point and be concise. Apple does a great job of this. In less than 10 words, they’re piquing their customers’ interest and providing the next steps on their homepage:

iphone 13 pro mobile product page

Offer a guest checkout option

A study by Statista shows that the second-highest reason for guests abandoning their cart is that the site wanted them to create an account. Moral of the story? If your customers are ready to purchase, you don’t want to be slowing down the process by requiring them to input additional information.

The fix? Offer a guest checkout process. This way, your customers can have a hassle-free experience without any added pressures of creating something they aren’t interested in. Plus, if they enjoy your product and have a great experience, they can always come back later and create an account on their own terms.

Invest in A/B testing

Testing is critical when it comes to optimizing your ecommerce website for mobile.

A/B testing involves separating your audience into different groups and testing different variables. When it comes to deciding what to test, the options are pretty much endless. You might test different headlines, multiple form fields, different CTAs, various visual content – all to see what resonates most with your users.

Understanding your customer preferences will allow you to provide an even better mobile experience. For example, if your target audience responds well to video rather than static images, you may want to amp up your homepage with video content.

Mobile ecommerce isn’t going anywhere – is your ecommerce brand prepared to keep up?

Let’s face it – many buyers are becoming savvier and savvier when it comes to shopping online, especially via mobile devices. Their expectations are high – they want a site that loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and is aesthetically pleasing to explore. To reach these rising standards, ecommerce brands need to revamp their sites to make sure they are optimized and prepared for a slew of mobile shoppers.

In short, mobile optimization is the backbone of providing a positive user experience, boosting conversion rates, and attracting new customers.

Time to get optimizing!

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