Designing Your Webstore for Multiple Devices

According to eMarketer, mobile transactions are expected to account for 26% of total web sales by 2017. And chances are, people are already visiting your site on their phones and tablets. Make sure you're providing a pleasant experience for all customers, no matter their device.

Understanding Your Options

It is important to note that you have several choices when it comes to your mobile strategy. Your options include building a native application, creating a dedicated mobile website, or using responsive design in your webstore. Here's a quick overview of each.

Native Applications

Native applications are applications built specifically for a mobile operating system (iOS, Android, etc.) and can typically be downloaded from an app store. The primary advantage of providing a native app is ease of use for the customer. Your app lives on the customer's mobile desktop and can store payment and contact information for quicker checkouts. You can also incorporate mobile-specific features like camera access, GPS, contacts and photo galleries.

Native applications can be expensive to develop and maintain, though. Because you have to build multiple apps to be compatible with the different operating systems, many retailers choose to build a dedicated mobile website instead.

Dedicated Mobile Websites

Dedicated mobile websites, or web apps, can mimic the optimized look and basic functionality of a native app without the compatibility issues. Mobile websites can be viewed on browsers across all operating systems, reducing development costs. A mobile website can be manually saved to a user's mobile desktop, but that process isn't as simple as downloading an app from an app store.

Mobile websites typically don't have the ability to incorporate some of the more advanced mobile-specific features that native apps can employ, like camera access, galleries, or contacts. It's also important to note that a mobile website will have to have its own unique URL. That means that unless you automatically redirect customers to the mobile site, they'll have to remember a second URL.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is a fairly new design approach that allows retailers to provide an optimized viewing experience for customers using any device type from a single site. A site with responsive design will adjust to fit each device by automatically reconfiguring the site's layout and proportionality.

Because this approach incorporates newer technology, there's the risk that customers using older browsers and devices won't be able to properly view the site. Also, load times can be slower.

Mobile Considerations

No matter which mobile strategy you incorporate, you'll face challenges that are inherent with the mobile landscape. Since customers use their mobile devices differently than they use a desktop, you'll need to consider issues like screen size, location and typical user behavior. 

A few basic tips to help you get started:

  • Keep menus short and sweet. All items in a menu should be visible on a single page. Remember, accessibility and speed are important for mobile users.
  • Make your site searchable. Include a site search bar at the top of each page. Also, consider using an auto-complete feature that predicts site-specific keywords as the user types. Make sure your search results compensate for minor misspellings, too, as mobile keypads regularly present issues for users.
  • Display your logo. Always use your logo at the top of each page to allow users to click back to the main page. The easier a site is to navigate, the longer customers will stay.
  • Take advantage of click-to-call. One of a mobile shopper's basic expectations is the ability to click on a phone number to initiate a call. Make sure your customer service number uses this feature.
  • Map to store locations. Similar to the click-to-call feature, if you have brick-and-mortar store locations, make sure the customer can find and click on a location to display the closest locations on a map.

Maximizing Conversions on Mobile

Just as you designed your webstore to maximize conversions from your digital marketing efforts, you'll need to do the same for your mobile offering. It doesn't matter how pretty and organized your layout is if users are abandoning their carts before checkout. 

Consider the following:

  • Use expandable, high-resolution images. Smaller screens can present visibility issues, especially when an image is confined to its space on the page. Make sure that customers can easily zoom in on photos so they know they've found exactly what they want.
  • Provide passcode security for apps. Customers will feel better about registering account and payment information on a native app if you provide a security passcode option when launching the app.
  • Allow mobile web users to check out as a guest. Just as you did on your main webstore, allow mobile customers to skip the registration process and check out as a guest. This is especially important for mobile users who expect a quick checkout process. You can always give them the option to register once the checkout is complete.
  • Reduce the steps during checkout. Expedite the checkout process by providing shortcuts and eliminating steps. For instance, include a check box for replicating billing information for shipping purposes. Also, eliminate the Card Type field. The first few numbers of a credit card indicate the card company.
  • Allow for cross-device shopping. Giving a customer the ability to finish their shopping or checkout process on another device will help reduce abandonment. If the customer has previously logged into the webstore, the same information can be used to finish a transaction when they return on another device. Keeping track of user preferences and shopping patterns on a native app is obviously a little easier since you have their information available at all times.
Designing your site for multiple devices will enhance a customer's experience, but how will customers find your site? How can you convert clicks on your website to sales? It's time to consider your pre-conversion digital marketing strategy. You need to be everywhere your customers are shopping online. Build and enhance your Digital Marketing strategy with ChannelAdvisor - take the first step by visiting our Digital Marketing Strategy at ChannelAdvisor section of the Strategy and Support Center.
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