“It’s like being back on dial-up…” That’s the standard complaint when a web page takes too long to load. Those early days of the web when we’d sit and stare at the modem are gone.

The chirrups and beeps have been replaced by superfast broadband, 4G - imminently 5G - and this speed of delivery means every second counts.

This expectation of speed combines with consumers increasingly wanting to do most – if not all – of their transactions via mobile. And they won’t make concessions for an overloaded network or slow connections.

A typical mobile site takes 15.3 seconds to load which, according to our research at Google, is 12.3 seconds too slow. We have found that 53% of consumers will abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load. 

But the consumer isn’t disadvantaged. Thanks to an intensely competitive marketplace, they don’t have to wait. If one site fails, there are several others to choose from. For brands, a delay of a single second on its mobile site can reduce conversions by up to 20%.

The challenge lies firmly with retailers trying to operate in this demanding, competitive environment.

Lighten the load

Consumers want a seamless experience – not the same experience as they get on desktop. Trying to load all the bells and whistles onto a mobile site just doesn’t work. Not only is it immeasurably cluttered and painful to navigate, the desktop GIFs, videos, large images and menus paralyse a mobile site.

Keeping the mobile experience focused on what customers want to achieve is key. French beauty retailer, Sephora, keeps the mobile experience pared down. It uses geolocation to identify a user’s nearest branch, prioritising opening hours and contact details. 

Finally, it gives new users the chance to filter the site to show only products and services that are most relevant to that individual.  

sephora

Sephora's mobile experience uses geolocation and personalisation to speed up loading

Personalise the experience 

The internet is a vast place. Even a single retailer’s website provides a seemingly endless array of opportunities. Customers aren’t just looking for fast loading, they want a fast journey that achieves what they came there to do in seconds, not even minutes.  

Five years ago, it sometimes took a customer more than 25 steps to order a pizza from Domino’s online, while today it can take fewer than five. Increasing speed means cutting the chaff, and getting rid of pointless pages. 

Another example comes from Decathlon, which sells equipment for up to 70 different sporting activities in-store and online. On the mobile web, it encourages customers to set preferences including local store, preferred communication and favourite sports. This doesn’t stop consumers having a broader browse on occasion but when time is of the essence, personalisation helps them find what they need, fast. 

decathlon mobile experience

More personalisation, from Decathlon 

Support services 

Getting page load times to three seconds is a gold standard, but those three seconds still add up. For potential customers having to search through several pages, it only takes 10 to get you to half a minute of scrolling and swiping. 

Consider starting a direct conversation with the user. If customers can’t find what they want right away, providing the option of a text chat can loop them round to the right page seamlessly. For complex requests, bringing in the offer of a call centre keeps the user on board. 

And while a growing number of transactions are happening end-to-end via mobile, it continues to be part of a multi-device journey. A third of retailers  in our research fail to offer multi-device basket retrieval. Providing a shopping basket that remembers the person and their previous choices, even across their phone, laptop and tablet, is a simple tool that keeps the momentum of the customer’s purchase journey going, even if their device changes. 

Getting customers online quickly is just the tip of the iceberg for retailers. Everything has to be fast, from search to fulfilment. Considering how to streamline the mobile experience isn’t just desirable from a convenience point of view, it’s critical to finding and keeping customers. 

More on personalisation and mobile commerce:

Econsultancy offers a two-day Fast Track Ecommerce training course. Book now.

Matt Bush

Published 9 May, 2018 by Matt Bush

Matt Bush is agency director at Google UK.

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