A look out the window should be more than enough evidence for retailers of how important it is to target mobile devices. People now look up from their phones exclusively to eat, drink, and sneeze - and even then, not if they can help it. The global mobile phone user base is 5.2 billion people, and 30% of them are smartphone users. Google has even recognized the increased reliance on mobile, adapting its algorithm to factor in a site’s mobile capabilities in searches. Basically, if you’ve not optimized your site for mobile, you may as well pack up and go home.
According to an IMRG report from February 2015, visits to e-commerce sites via smartphone and tablet devices accounted for 45% of all e-commerce traffic in the UK. However, a new BI Intelligence report found that just 60% of the top 100 global retailers have a dedicated mobile website, while 32% are still showing mobile users a desktop-optimized version of their website on mobile devices. For retailers - many of whom are jaded after the long process of adapting their business models for online - adapting seems to be a new challenge that they are not yet ready to embrace.
M-commerce is not a separate entity from e-commerce. It is a specific sub-group of e-commerce transactions that involves the use of smartphones and tablets, as opposed to desktop and laptop computers. It does, however, require a rethink in the way that a site is designed. It needs to be even more responsive than traditional online sites, with a greater emphasis on speed than online. According to data from Google’s Think Insights, 29% of users cite the inability to see detailed product information as a barrier to purchase on smartphones. A pinch-to-zoom functionality enables this. Swiping is also a particularly effective way of saving space, and is fairly intuitive for the user when presented well.
M-commerce is not just about getting people to buy on mobile sites though, it can also help bricks and mortar stores. Sites need a GPS store finder to help those who research their products on their phones and then want to go to the store to see it in person before purchase. It is the case now that 44% use their mobile device to research an item that they’ll later purchase offline, and 17% say they use theirs’ to do further research while in a store shopping. However, Somo analysis found that 40% of the top 50 UK high street retailers lack a mobile optimized store locator on their site, suggesting that such many are not realizing the benefits.
It should not be too difficult for companies to adapt, with a mobile website requiring a relatively low development cost. The UK retail industry is sacrificing £6.6bn every year because of a failure to invest in mobile offerings, and every minute retailers delay means losing ground on their competitors. This could even be permanent. According to Oracle mobile, 54% of millennials across the global say that a poor mobile experience makes it less likely that they will use a business’s other products, and 39% said that it would make them less likely to recommend the company’s products.