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Smartphone conversion rates are typically lower than on desktop and tablet due to a number of factors, not least screen size and a perceived lack of functionality.

However as with all areas of ecommerce there are steps that site owners can take to improve the user experience and increase conversions from mobile devices.

For an in-depth look at the intricacies of m-commerce download our Mobile Commerce Compendium, but to get you started here are 12 ways to boost mobile conversions...

Get a mobile site 

It’s barely even worth mentioning this, but it’s obviously going to help mobile conversions if you build a mobile optimised or responsive site.

If users are required to pinch and zoom a desktop site on a mobile screen then it's hugely unlikely that they'll stick around long enough to actually buy anything.

Keep form filling to a minimum

Form filling can be extremely frustrating for mobile visitors as there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a fiddly process.

Therefore sites should keep form length to an absolute minimum and avoid optional fields as nobody will bother to fill them in so they’re just taking up precious screen space.

There are also a number of user shortcuts that can be implemented to speed up the form filling process, such as a postcode lookup tool or assuming that the billing and delivery addresses are the same.

Finally, form fields need to be large enough for people to click easily.

These examples show that Debenhams gets it about right while New Look gets it badly wrong.

                    

Don’t force registration

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but forcing customers to register on mobile is definitely going to cause a decent proportion of them to drop out.

And it doesn’t necessarily mean that retailers can’t still ask for an email address and password during the checkout process, it’s just a case of being clever with the exact wording

For example, ASOS managed to reduce checkout abandonment by 50% by removing any mention of ‘registration’, even though the overall checkout process remained largely the same.

Offer alternative payment options

Quick or alternative payment methods can help increase conversion rates by reducing the amount of friction at the checkout.

Saving the payment details of returning customers or accepting PayPal speeds up the payment process and reduces the likelihood that customers will become impatient and abandon the site.

                    

PayPal is also a trusted online payment service so shoppers won’t be put off by security concerns.

Offer in-store pickup

Google's Mobile Search Moments Study found that 40% of mobile searches have local intent, so retailers should look to take advantage of this by offering customers in-store pickup in their local area.

GPS makes it incredibly easy for shoppers to find their local store using a mobile website and arrange delivery or check whether the product is in stock.

Speed things up

There have been many studies into how site speed impacts conversions, including one from Akamai which found that 47% of people expect a site to load in two seconds or fewer.

The case for speed is even more compelling on mobile as it’s still quite rare to get perfect 3G signal for an entire browsing session, so site owners need to do everything they can to keep pages fast and lightweight.

This is no easy task and it becomes even more difficult if a site is built using responsive design, so the onus is on retailers to regularly monitor their site speed (try the Google GoMo tool) and optimise pages to load quickly.

Limit the layers of navigation

We’ve already established that mobile users are rather impatient, so site owners need to limit the number of barriers to purchase.

One way of doing this it to reduce the layers of navigation so that shoppers don’t have to spend ages clicking through different menus before they get to a product page.

A good rule of thumb is to limit your site to a maximum of three levels of navigation, otherwise you’re relying on every page to load extremely quickly and probably asking too much of the user.

Use massive images

Due to the size of mobile screens it will always be a challenge to display product images that are large enough to give customers a decent view of the item.

However there are steps that can be taken to improve the UX and chances of a conversion, including the use of a white background and clear images.

I’m a fan of H&M’s product images within its mobile app as they take up the entire screen, while Walmart also offers decent sized photos.

                    

Send them directly to the checkout

Mobile design is largely about reducing friction, which means limiting the number of clicks.

Personally when I shop on mobile I rarely buy more than one or maybe two items as it’s generally an impulse purchase, so it would be useful if retailers automatically loaded the shopping cart page as soon as I added an item to my basket.

Obviously site owners should check their own analytics to see the average order for mobile users, but if it turns out that people are generally only buying one item then it might improve the UX if you remove the necessity for users to click the checkout button after adding an item to their basket.

Click-to-call

Statistics from Google show that 61% of mobile users make a call after a local business search so it’s really important that brick-and-mortar stores display a phone number on their mobile sites.

To perfect the UX and maximise conversions the number should be presented as a click-to-call CTA so the process only takes the touch of a button.

                    

Use big, colourful buttons

Large calls-to-action are a must for mobile web design as they need to be both noticeable and easy to click with a thumb.

In general a CTA that is 44x44 pixels should be large enough for all but the fattest of thumbs and there should also be plenty of white space around the buttons to avoid accidental clicks. Other factors to consider are the wording used, the position on the page and the colour.

If you compare these examples from Walmart and Sears then it’s obvious which is the most user-friendly.

                    

Prominent site search

A fast, effective site search tool is very important on mobile as it allows shoppers to avoid all the chaff and immediately drill down to the product they’re looking for.

We’ve previously blogged best practice tips for ecommerce site search – the most important things to consider are:

  • Make the box easy to spot, ideally at the top of the page.
  • Position a search box in the same position on each page of the site.
  • Use predictive search where possible.
David Moth

Published 24 September, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1680 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Gary Wiles

Great article David. We are currently developing our mobile site for a B2B and consumer business. We are using 'Buy' for our C2A buttons, reflecting our desktop site, but do you always recommend 'Add to Basket'? Is it acceptable to use different text depending on where you are on the site, eg. search results, there is less space, could you get away with 'Buy' here, or just 'Add'?

almost 3 years ago

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Alon Even

David,
Thanks for the great post.

I'd suggest an additional way to improve conversions on mobile sites or within mobile apps, that is visual mobile analytics tools that enable to measure, understand and improve the customer experience within the app or on the mobile site. Visual mobile analytics, such as heatmaps and user recordings, show exactly how customers interact with your app/site and what problems they are experiencing.
By improving the customer experience using such tools, companies will increase conversions, engagement and monetization. A good example of visual app analytics is Appsee (www.appsee.com).

Thx,
Alon

almost 3 years ago

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