10 tips for usability in mobile commerce

In mobile commerce, optimization techniques are used with usability in mind. From the design to the ordering process, a mobile web store should always put the user at the center of its efforts. Sites that are not optimized for mobile devices suffer greatly, with over 70% of smartphone users leaving within the first few seconds and 30% turning to competing sites. Conversely, a strong focus on the user ultimately helps to convert visitors into customers. Online merchants can make the most of this turnover potential by optimizing their web stores for smartphones and tablets. We’ve gathered 10 hot tips for creating a user-friendly m-commerce platform.

1. Concentrate on the essentials

Every online store owner should start by asking themselves this question: what does my mobile website really need? Consider your website’s specific features, and which are necessary for tablet and smartphone users; not everything included on the desktop version is required on a mobile device. When developing and optimizing mobile sites, website owners are not only confronted with the physical challenges of creating a new interface, but also the challenge of adapting to different user behavior. Define the core functions – those that are most frequently used. Prioritize the most important features and let the others take a back seat. That way, you can create a reduced design with full functionality. ‘Less is more’ also applies in terms of performance. More streamlined content ensures shorter loading times and a lower bounce rate.

2. Clear structure

Since mobile devices have a limited screen size, mobile sites require a clear and simple structure, with clean, clearly formatted pages and an intuitive menu navigation. The menu should be short and concise. Logical website architecture also increases usability. This means that the navigation should include just a few important categories and a small number of subpages. The user should always be able to find their way to the home page without any hassle and all important aspects (such as the shopping cart and main navigation, for example) should be easily visible. As a website owner, you should keep smartphone users’ click patterns in mind, and ensure that the design enables simple and intuitive operation.

3. Content: quality, not quantity

Limited space also affects the length and quality of your content. Online users are selective in their reading behavior. Therefore, during your content planning phase, you need to remember to publish short and succinct texts, which use clear sub-headings and highlighted words in order to give the reader a general orientation. The smaller the screen, the more difficult it becomes to communicate complex content. Therefore another key principle of mobile optimization is reducing content to the bare essentials. Cut out any filler words and replace flowery language with precise, simple sentence structure. Mobile users tend to only read clear, comprehensible content. Like with desktop websites, mobile web stores can only gain the attention of users with genuine benefits and helpful information.

4. Reduced design

When it comes to online shopping, visual appeal plays a key role in attracting potential customers. Many online store owners worry that this will mean they’re forced to sacrifice their creative vision on their mobile site. But in m-commerce, it’s easier than you might think to create a reduced and functional design that still appeals to users. Avoid overwhelming visitors with superfluous gimmicks and strong contrast, and instead go for a sleek and clear appearance to make your site look professional, modern, and engaging. Remember to use large images and other multimedia content sparingly, as this will have a negative impact on both loading times and the performance of your mobile site.

5. Brand awareness

It’s important to be conscious of your brand’s image at all times. You should therefore always ensure your site is recognizable and that your corporate design is displayed on all devices. In order to create a uniform design on all devices, you may want to consider the mobile first strategy, which ensures the design is first displayed on the smallest possible device and can later be transferred to larger versions.

6. Usability for touchscreens

What makes surfing the internet on smartphones and tablets unique is the fact that the user navigates with their finger or thumb, rather than with a more precise mouse pointer. This is a key point that is integral for the design of a mobile site and also regarding call to actions. Rather than forcing the user to zoom in and out, you should make an effort to incorporate mobile device’s features (such as swiping back and forth) in the navigation. If users are able to find products easily with a simple search function, this will also have a big influence on your shop’s usability and conversion rate. Support visitors by placing the search function in a prominent place, use auto-complete and auto-correct and offer intelligent filter functions.

7. Take advantage of the device’s functions

While limited screen space presents a range of challenges, mobile devices also have many distinct characteristics that online traders can take advantage of. For example, if a web store also offers its products in brick-and-mortar stores, website operators can integrate a location-based service on the mobile site in order to lead the customer directly to the closest branch. Integrating click-to-call services is another worthwhile option. Please note that website operators who want their apps and mobile websites to detect users’ locations via GPS or other tracking functions should inform users and explain their intentions in the interest of transparency. This will help you gain the trust of potential customers.

8. Optimize your shopping cart

The shopping cart lies at the heart of every web store, but the risks and potential weaknesses that come with it also make it one of the most vulnerable points. Therefore, in m-commerce, optimizing your shopping cart is essential for reducing cancelled transactions and maximizing successful conversions. Above all else, you should ensure that the functions are simple to operate and that users can manage their products without hassle. You also need to enable synchronization with the desktop version of the site so that, if need be, customers can start shopping on a mobile device and finish the process on their PC (or vice versa). 

9. A more secure and accessible payment process

In addition to the shopping cart, the payment process is yet another important area for optimization in both e-commerce and m-commerce; web store owners need to ensure that there are sufficient payment functions and that the registration process is simple. Instead of a complicated process with several steps, you should have a simple and clearly laid-out transaction process in the form of a one-page checkout. Make sure any forms that require the user to enter information are designed efficiently and only ask for data that is completely necessary for the transaction process. Users also enjoy the freedom of being able to create an order without needing to sign up.

10. Security and data protection

In mobile commerce, there’s no way to get around providing adequate security for your users. The safe transfer of customer data is a vital aspect of internet security, without which, the entire operation can fall apart. Many mobile devices now support HTTPS and can thus prevent unauthorized access to sensitive customer data. One effective method of gaining the customer’s trust during the transaction process is by displaying a trust seal or certificate. These seals serve to reassure users that an independent body has reviewed the web store and judged that it is in accordance with general standards and laws. When you allow your web store to be evaluated by an independent body, they also test your mobile website’s usability – another important aspect for users.   

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