Mobile is the fastest rising retail sales opportunity right now. Smartphones account for a third of global web traffic, growing to almost half in more mature regions such as the UK, according to Criteo research. However, in reality, not every mobile experience is a good one for the end buyer.

As we discussed in our recent loyalty blog post, mobile is the most important element for retailers to get right if they want to create a truly omnichannel experience. In the digital environment, there are examples of big brands adopting a mobile-first strategy to drive sales across all channels – but not enough of their counterparts follow suit.

Optimizing ecommerce for smartphone users should be a priority for retailers, coming even before the integration of mobile into the store. There are a number of key steps businesses trading online should take to ensure they’re attracting maximum traffic and converting sales through all their digital channels. These include:

Being responsive

It’s amazing to think that not all retail websites are currently built in a responsive format, but that’s the truth. Being able to attract mobile users relies on having a website that displays properly on a small screen, and still enables an easy customer journey.

Not only does a non-responsive website put smartphone shoppers off, it can have a harm inbound traffic as Google introduced a search engine update last year that favors mobile-friendly sites.

Thinking about the end-to-end journey

Even those retailers with responsive websites can get it wrong by thinking of their portal as purely a sales tool. Mobiles have become an essential tool for most everyday tasks and, as such, many consumers turn to it for support way before the point they’re ready to buy.

A mobile-first website should offer dynamic imagery and clear product information for the research stages of the purchasing journey, and support peer feedback such as social media comments and online views for those that seek endorsement before committing to an item. The mCommerce platform should also be capable of offering means to continue the journey offline, such as a click-and-collect option.

Investing in applications

65% of global mobile transactions take place through a mobile application, yet even the biggest retailers in the industry experience problems with their apps. Slow loading times, crashing, and pared back functionality compared to the desktop site are just some of the complaints levelled against underperforming apps.

With most application stores encouraging users to rate and review their purchases, responses to poor apps are incredibly visible – and can put off future users.

Preparing for the increase in online traffic

A good ecommerce experience doesn’t end when shoppers check out; all too often, availability and fulfilment issues can turn an otherwise positive experience into cause for complaint. It’s vitally important that mobile, desktop and tablet interfaces are backed up with a robust ecommerce platform, capable of handling high volumes of ecommerce orders.

Global smartphone ownership is going to increase over the next decade, and mobile commerce’s share of sales channel is also going to rise. Retailers need to make sure they can deliver on their promise with a back-end functionality as beautifully optimized as their front end offering.

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