Mobile first is not a luxury but a necessity if your ecommerce business is to keep pace with the rapid growth in mobile use.  

One in five people in the world own a smartphone and one in 17 own a tablet, according to BI Intelligence. 

Revenues from mobile sales in Europe and the US continue to grow dramatically too. In the last four years they are up from 2.2% in 2010 and predicted to grow to 23% by the end of 2014, meaning transactions made on the go will be worth $101bn.

Research from Intelligent Positioning showed that mobile and tablet traffic is also set to overtake that from the desktop this summer.

Last year mobile traffic increased from 23% to 37% whilst desktop’s share dropped from 77% to 63% in the same year.

It found that over a third of all traffic is now coming from a handheld mobile or tablet device.

So with that in mind, here are five common customer traits to consider when adapting your ecommerce site for mobile:

1. Performance: customers don’t want to wait for anything

Time is money, or in the ecommerce world it's the difference between a sale or an abandoned cart.

A survey from 500 of the top online retailers conducted by found that the average page load time was 2.9 seconds - time spent staring at a blank screen.  

Stats from Gomez show that the majority of users expect performance levels close to that on desktop: 

Whether reducing the size of your mobile site or chunking its loading, quickening the load speed is essential. 

2. Layout: customers are only interested in product and price

Ecommerce specialist and founder of Gravity Department, Brendan Falkowski, led the redesign of men’s fashion brand Skinny Ties turning it into a mobile commerce success.

Its responsive design on Magento, which adapts to fit any shaped device, focused on product image and price as the central parts of the redesign. As a result, three months after its re-launch at the end of 2012, Skinny Ties found a 377% revenue growth for iPhone users and 43% growth across all devices.

3. Steps – Customers want to take as few as possible

A benchmarking exercise conducted by Baymard from the top 100 ecommerce sites awarded furniture and homeware retailer, Crate & Barrel, the number one slot for its checkout best practice.

It was named the best site in the industry, going up against giants like Nike, Gap and Home Depot.

The reason it won was because it had eliminated unnecessary steps, pre-filled data where possible, and used appropriate inputs to make typing easier, all helping to make checkout faster.

4. Access (navigation and menus) – Customers don’t want to learn a new system

The simpler the user experience, the better the sales are says last year’s User Experience Survey Report conducted by Econsultancy.

It found that 74% of online retailers think that user experience is crucial for improvement of sales and conversion.

Site navigation should be simple – inserting a search function on each page (including the homepage) along with auto complete functionality will save your customers time by narrowing their search results faster.

It's also useful to include a previous search history for returning customers.

5. Context –  Customers want to order right here and now

People have been buying on their mobiles for some time. Take for example the person who bought a Mercedes SLR via eBay mobile on their smartphone (for $240,001) back in 2011.

This is nothing new and not true m-commerce. The future of mobile lies with integration and convergence with payment systems and bricks and mortar, the actual shops themselves.

An m-commerce strategy should include ways to increase sales, bring customers into stores and enhance their shopping and buying experience while in-store.

Here Econsutancy’s Editor Graham Charlton lists his 10 favourite uses of mobile combined with retail to give you some ideas.


Published 31 July, 2014 by Juliet Stott

Juliet Stott is a freelance journalist, content creator and a contributor to Econsultancy.  Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter

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Comments (4)

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Hi Juliet, do you feel this is distinct from desktop design?

about 4 years ago


Jordan Franklin

Very good advise! It should certainly help new developers in designing ECommerce sites that are functional on Mobiles - Something that we provide FREE with each website design at Loud Marketing!

about 4 years ago



Great write-up Juliet! We agree with each point and feel companies who plan to sell online should seriously consider each one.

We would add, after a merchant sets up an mcommerce site they should consider engaging customers via mobile. One way to do that is by combining an mcommerce site and a mcommerce app. Both are important and the app would allow the merchant to reach customers on the device from which they will be purchasing. Push notifications have a much higher open rate than marketing emails and they help cut through the clutter of social media and other advertising.

Thanks again for the great tips!

about 4 years ago



Hi Juliet,
This is an good write up by you, I do agree that in today's world Mobile is very very necessary. The tips given by you before adapting e commerce site for mobile are of very helpful. Thank for sharing such a great informative article.

about 4 years ago

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