Not long ago, mobile was the next frontier in e-commerce. Since then, it has become the preeminent retail space—both online and in-store—and the pandemic has only accelerated the trend.
Consumers everywhere now want to shop and pay with their smartphones, and they’re increasingly vocal about that preference. In fact, 70 percent of U.S. merchants said their customers were requesting contactless tap-and-go or mobile app payments, according to a 2020 survey.1
Clearly, an intelligent mobile strategy is important for e-commerce businesses. But It’s also an essential part of building a winning omnichannel experience in the pandemic era and beyond. To be prepared for both today and tomorrow, here are several ways to optimize your mobile presence and take your business to the next level.
Mobile site design is vital for continuity
Responsive web design has become a necessity over the past several years, as it allows your site to reformat automatically based on screen size. If someone browses your site on their smartphone and then visits it on their laptop later in the day—the site will adapt to ensure a seamless viewing experience.
Having a responsive site is important for delivering an intuitive, accessible experience no matter where your customers find you (hence the importance of omnichannel strategies). But given mobile’s growing popularity, it makes sense to go a few steps beyond that. An optimized mobile design with fraud control—complete with cutting-edge, EMV specification-based payments technology like Three Domain Secure (3DS), Secure Remote Commerce (SRC), and Tokenization—is the ultimate goal.
Savvy web developers can help you design a mobile-optimized site that caters to the smartphone-browsing experience. Think large, easy-to-tap navigation buttons, streamlined menus and a fast, frictionless checkout experience.
In addition, you’ll often notice that elements such as photos and blog posts stack on top of each other on mobile sites, whereas they sit side by side on a desktop screen. Stacking allows for a cleaner view on small screens, while maintaining the quality of the browsing experience.
Mobile-optimized sites emphasize functionality and simplicity, rather than cramming as many elements as possible into a small display. If the action buttons on your mobile site are so small that they’re unclickable, customers will become frustrated and leave.
Speed is critical to keeping everyone’s attention
Remember: Users want information fast, especially today. Chances are, they’re on the move or multitasking on their smartphones. That’s why easy-to-read, easy-to-swipe features are the name of the game in mobile-optimized design.
Page load times are also incredibly important to the user experience, whether online or on a mobile phone. If pages load slowly, you risk users navigating away from your website.
Fortunately, reducing page load times can increase conversions—and you don’t need to overhaul your entire site to get there. Simply reducing the number of images and page elements on each page might help them load faster, so be sure to discuss this requirement with your developer.
When selecting elements for your pages, be discerning about what needs to be there. Do you need 10 photos to showcase a product, or will five do the job just as well? Image size and resolution are equally important. A single giant file will take longer to load than 10 well-sized ones. Choose just a few high-quality, appropriately sized photos to avoid creating visual clutter and potentially slowing down your site.
A mobile app can make a big difference
A mobile-optimized site is one thing. But once you’ve conquered your design issues, a new question arises: Does your e-commerce business need its own mobile app? The answer: maybe.
If you run a large e-commerce enterprise, building a mobile app might make sense. A brand app is a controlled environment, and you can add features and incentives to encourage shoppers to return time and again. Loyalty programs, for instance, are a great way to help generate repeat purchases, as they offer rewards to frequent customers. Creating an in-app loyalty program could encourage customers to check back often to access special deals and promotions.
Many major brands are opting to build their own apps and are using them to offer their customers new, pandemic-inspired ways to shop and pay, such as BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store or curbside). For brands like Target, one of the largest U.S. retailers, this is an excellent move.2 According to a 2021 study by 451 Research, more than half of consumers around the globe say they make most or all of their online purchases using their mobile device3— and much of that shopping is done via a branded app.
But if you run a small e-commerce business, the pros and cons are a bit less clear. People might not keep more than two retail apps on their smartphones, and they are unlikely to check the app every day. Until your company grows larger, you may be better off investing in mobile site optimization, as shoppers could be more likely to find your site through search engines than to download an app. Alternatively, you might consider using one of the many SaaS mobile app services on the market today in lieu of building your own custom app.
But if you’re ready to build one, brand apps can be incredibly powerful for generating customer relationships and driving conversions.
With mobile on the rise and people becoming increasingly accustomed to shopping in apps, a brand-centric mobile space can significantly raise the profile of your business.
Best practices for a brand app approach
Apps can effectively tie together the omnichannel experience, particularly if you have a brick-and-mortar store. A dynamic app connects the threads between the online and in-person elements of your strategy, helping drive people from all points in the funnel toward conversion—but only if it provides an experience that’s familiar and enjoyable to the customer.
That means features like well-timed push notifications, localization functions, and email and social media integrations. Best practices like using hashtags and responding to comments are crucial for engaging customers, for example. But a frictionless checkout is just as important. Advanced technology like Secure Remote Commerce (SRC) can give your customers the kind of secure, convenient payment experience they’ve come to expect.
Consider this scenario: A consumer who clicks on a promoted social media post might land on your website, where they see a special promotion for first-time app users. The person downloads the app and makes an SRC-enabled purchase. A day later, you nudge them to open the app again via a push notification, keeping your company top-of-mind.
When they return to the app, they see an exclusive local offer to be used at your brick-and-mortar location. You might also invite them to share their next purchase on social media with a special hashtag, driving up engagement and promoting your brand to their followers. Your social media strategist then comments on the post, showing that you value the customer.
This cycle fosters loyalty with the customer, who is now likely to remember your brand and make repeat purchases. An app makes it possible to create this dynamic with every one of your customers.
The big picture of optimization
Ideally, the different elements of your omnichannel strategy will complement each other for a powerful e-commerce experience. But this is only the beginning.
In today’s digital era, keeping your customers loyal and attracting new ones will depend on integrating social media, customer service at brick-and-mortar locations and payment best practices into one high-converting omnichannel strategy. Until then, work with your web developer to optimize your site, build your app and continue laying the groundwork for rich customer relationships and a profitable future.
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1 Global Payments Inc., February 2021. 2021 Outlook: Five Payment Trends Transforming Commerce. Viewed 9 August 2021.
2 Global Payments Inc., February 2021. 2021 Outlook: Five Payment Trends Transforming Commerce. Viewed 9 August 2021.
3 451 Research, January 2021. Global Fintech Vendor and Consumer Study. Viewed 11 August 2021.
The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover® Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.