This trend lead us to rethink our checkout system last year and launch a single-page process. As a result we saw mobile orders double in the run-up to Christmas.

Conversions via mobile phones doubled in December and basket-size went up five-fold.  

The stand-out trend in our Christmas sales data was the rise of conversions via mobile phones. We were not expecting our December 2014 mobile trading figures to show global purchases over a phone at 58% (up from 47% for Christmas 2013), whereas the tablet share is 42%.

We expected the tablet to be the most appropriate device for shopping, especially with our create-your-own t-shirt offering. Even in Europe however, where tablet sales were 53% of our December mobile orders, phone sales are on the rise, up to 47% from 35% in 2013.

One page checkout

If the global figures for shopping via a mobile phone surprised us, we think there may be other retailers who are also looking to see how best they can optimise this new(ish) market.

If mobile is going to become a full shopping channel, online retailers will need to make it easy for people to buy via their phones or other mobile devices.

Too often it’s not just the checkout function which is too complicated. Consumers are failing to get through to the final click for a variety of reasons, which we identified as: optimisation, payments, usability and security.

1. Optimisation  

Despite the recent growth and significant potential in mobile commerce lots of sites are still poorly optimised.

The mobile shopping experience must be even more intuitive than on the desktop, so the first step is creating a responsive design for the entire shop. Consumers now expect their mobile experience to be as good as a desktop.

This may mean adjusting the shape of the site or making sure images are mobile friendly. Websites that fail to function on a mobile device or deliver a less-than-perfect experience will see diminishing returns. 

2. Usability 

Too many companies optimise their mobile presence, without checking usability and whether the result really has added value for the customer; can they easily find what their looking for by scrolling or is there a lot of clicking through?

Poor usability leads to customer dissatisfaction, leading to loss of customers and ultimately to the loss of sales.

We addressed this by taking a look at the user-interface and our mobile marketplaces’ search facility. Both been now simplified, so they have less text, more symbols and a stronger focus on design.  

3. Security

There is still strong skepticism regarding data security in mobile commerce, so payment processes should be transparent.

Mobile shopping requires confidence in the corresponding payment systems (PayPal, SEPA, credit card) and clear ordering processes.

These issues result in a low conversion rate for tablets and smartphones compared to the value of traditional PCs. 

4. Payments

Having made the investment in mobile-optimised store fronts and brought in the browsers, retailers need to get them to the final click. Too often the ordering and payment processes are overly complicated and time-consuming when they need to be quick & easy.

As Graham Charlton suggests, the payment process needs to be pared down. Abandoned baskets are often the result of several pages of payment information, from confirmation, address, selecting the payment method and inputting of payment information.

We stripped much of this process out, preparing each product for viewing on a mobile devices and the streamlining the payment process on a single page.

In summary

Consumer expectations develop almost in line with the technology and there is a constant demand for improvements.

Retailers can keep up by addressing measures around responsive design, improving functionality and streamlining the payment process. Bringing your buyers in is one art, getting them to the final click is another. 

We set out to make 2014 our year of the mobile experience, and we think these numbers prove that we got something right! During the year we discovered that the key to converting mobile visitors into buyers includes four things; optimisation, payments, usability and security.

So our strategy of optimising the platform for mobile use in 2014 meant that we were able to start turning mobile visitors into mobile buyers by the end of the year. It’s early days for 2015, but we’re keen to see how our Q1 figures will look as the mobile phone becomes a purchasing device.