Smartphones are changing the way people shop, travel and search but challenges are abound for businesses planning mobile presence. In the world of mobile devices, making a decision between mobile app & website, and responsive & adaptive can pretty much baffle anyone.
If you are looking for hands-on information on mCommerce, then, this post has been created especially for you. It will answer all your questions about setting up a mobile platform and creating the best small-screen presence.
A responsive design fluidly adjusts the size and placement of elements with the relative change in dimensions of the browser window. Thus, it is optimized to fit all screen sizes. The design is developed on CSS3 and HTML5.
If you opt for a responsive design, you do not need to make additional investment for maintaining a different website for mobile devices. The only major limitation of responsive websites is that they are not compatible with very old mobile devices. If this doesn’t worry you, responsive design is made for you.
Also Read: How to build user friendly mobile website? 10 Super Tips from experts
Responsive website is designed to match the screen size of the device on which it is accessed. It does not take into account the features of the device being used. Adaptive websites are developed to meet the needs of mobile phones with varied size and features. It requires a designer to create different versions of every web page. Developers create the functionality that identifies the device, available features and displays the appropriate version.
Setting up an adaptive website is difficult and expensive, and is suggested only if you have enough mobile audience and resources.
Some ecommerce website owners are torn between the debate that whether they should have a mobile optimized website or a mobile app. The answer is very simple;
Mobile optimized website is a must. Period
Whether to opt for a mobile app or not depends on your target audience, amount of investment you can put in, the products you sell, features you want to offer, amount of competition, etc.
Benefits of mobile apps can be broadly listed as follows:
- People tend to spend more time on the app than on the web browser.
- People are more comfortable making more expensive purchases through mobile apps compared to the mobile website.
- It also gives the retailers an option to show products based on the location of the customer.
- It is always running in the background and can furnish notifications anytime. A mobile website on the other hand can work only when it’s open on the browser.
- You can offer enhanced features.
- Management of shopping cart and making online payments is easier.
MakeMyTrip app integrates with iPhone and iPad Passbook. This way, the travelers do not need to carry printouts of their tickets as their app seamlessly integrates with the phone’s database and save it. The barcode on the pass is scanned when you check in.
Because a mobile app is always running in the backend of a phone, you can offer enhanced features like real time updates/notifications and offers. The mobile app, BiteHunger gives its customers real time updates of any deals available in the location near them. It shows location specific deals with detailed description, thus taking it a few steps ahead of the mobile optimized website and boosting sales.
You don’t just need a mobile app to sell products directly. You can use it to make your product catalogue accessible to your customers. This way, you can promote sales of your brick and mortar store. IKEA’s popular catalogue app allows users to see 3D copies of certain furniture against their own rooms and determine whether it would fit.
Best practices for creating the perfect mobile platform
Lately consumers have been frequently using their mobile devices in physical shops to ensure that they get the product that they see in the store at a better price. In many cases, they are willing to delay their purchase and shop online where they get the perfect combination of value and quality. To facilitate such customers, ecommerce website owners are trying to get the best mobile optimized website.
By focusing on following points, you can create a user-experience focused mobile website that will be widely preferred as well as recommended by target audience;
- Low Loading Time: The bounce rate of a website on a mobile device is very high if it is unable to load quickly. With faster internet services, people are losing their patience to wait for a web page to load. They would rather choose the website of your competitor that loads faster. Try to get rid of the frills and focus on the basics.
- Easy Navigation: The navigation of a mobile website should be very user friendly. The website should be optimized for both portrait and landscape mode. Try to avoid any kind of side scrolling. Having drop down menus (like in the screenshot below) should be avoided as new users might not know how to locate such dropdown menus
- Site Search Option: The site search option should be at the top of your every mobile web page. People find it very handy to search through a lot of content which is not so easily accessible.Searching through categories on a mobile device can be a challenging task. The screenshot above shows a strategically placed search option.
- Embed the categories within the main body: Try to have broad categories for the products that you offer. Embed them within the main body so that the visitor does not have to search for them. He should directly find what he came looking for.
- Avoid animations: Using any kind of animation like a fast changing slider on your home page can be very distracting on a mobile device. Try to keep the design very simple.
- Page footer: The footer of a long page should have the main tabs listed again in the form of buttons and not text links. Buttons are easy to click on and not cramped together like text links.The footer of a long page should have the main tabs listed again in the form of buttons and not text links. Buttons are easy to click on and not cramped together like text links.
- Design should not perfectly fit the folds: If your design perfectly fits the first fold, a visitor might think that there is nothing below the first fold and won’t scroll anymore. Try to keep a design that looks like it continues below the fold.
- Clear Call to Action: The main call to action of your web page should stand out. Mobile websites are no more used to just seek information. People are using them all the more just like they use a regular website. Your call to action should guide the visitor to the next step of the conversion funnel. Read our blog to know how to increase sales via conversion funnel optimization.
- Adaptive Content Management: It is important to understand that responsive design is not the solution to every problem. Though responsive design seems to be the buzz word for the past few years, it does not necessarily mean mobile optimized. Your visitors might still face difficulty in using your websites because of poor execution in terms of navigation, content placement, filtering options and page loading. We see a lot of news websites upgrading themselves to a responsive design. Henceforth all the news fits perfectly in your computer screen as well as mobile devices but how convenient are they when you need to switch from one category to the next or for social media sharing?An ideal website should exhibit content under broad categories so that a visitor finds it easy to navigate through the website and move from one category to the next.
- Make payment Process Secure & quick: The payment process should be made quicker. This will benefit you from impulse purchases. Mobile apps help you provide multiple payment options very easily. FATbit advices its ecommerce clients to use ‘Customer Information Management’ facility if available with your payment gateway. This allows you to create Customer Profile and Credit Card profile on the payment gateway server, eliminating the need of asking credit card and billing info again and again (until credit card on file expires or blocked).
- Focus on product details: A mobile website is supposed to be simple and easy to use without much of content. This does not mean you will compromise on the product details. Flipkart, a leading ecommerce website, offers a lot of product information, making the buying decision quicker. There are enough clear product images with detailed description about product, price, special discounts, reviews and ratings from other buyers.The length of the page becomes long because of detailed description. This problem has been solved by providing the option of “Go to Top” after regular intervals on the page.
- Easy sign in: Do no ask the visitor to sign in at the first step. Always give them the first option of Guest Checkout, followed by Sign in and Create New Account. Allow sign in through Social Media Accounts
- Include special features: When booking a hotel through your mobile phone and choosing the pay option, MakeMyTrip’s mobile website allows you to confirm your hotel booking by just giving a missed call. They also offer special discounts to promote their mobile app and mobile website.
Web specialists predict that mCommerce belongs to the future and will become the main focus of business owners & entrepreneurs in coming years. And early starters will definitely have an advantage over later beginners.
Have an app idea in mind or wish to take your business to small screens?