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Yet again, 2014 is due to see an increase in buyers shopping online via mobile devices. In December last year, a significant 19% of all sales were via phones and tablets. And an even higher percentage of website traffic was mobile; a significant 37% [1]. This year, it’s possible that half of all shopping traffic could be on mobile devices.

Providing your products and services to buyers via what is a dynamic, ever-changing sales channel adds time and cost – at what point do you decide it’s worth catering specifically to these mobile shoppers?

If you don’t want to rebuild your whole checkout process to support mobile shopping, you should at least make sure the rest of your website runs well on a small screen with touch controls – and on a slower cellular internet connection. Shoppers spend a lot of time doing research on their mobile devices, perhaps on their commute to or from work, and then complete the process on their computer at home. If you’re using a hosted ecommerce platform like Shopify or Bigcommerce then your checkout may well already be mobile-ready, which means you may get the sale there and then. Otherwise you need to provide ways for them to share the information with their other devices or computer. A clear “email this page” link near the “buy now” button is a good start – and of course you will have captured the user’s email address, so you can chase up if they don’t complete the purchase.

"The peak in sales at 6pm on Cyber Monday [in 2013] is interesting as traditionally sales have spiked later in the evening," said Xavier Garambois, vice president of EU Retail at Amazon. "In fact, in 2011, sales peaked at 9.20pm.The earlier rush indicates that people will be using their commute to get a head start on their shopping or logging on as soon as they get home, so they can relax in the knowledge that their Christmas shopping is done." [2]

The discrepancy between mobile traffic (37%) and mobile sales (19%) indicates that sites are not converting mobile shoppers as well as they should be. What about yours? Make sure your ecommerce system is connected up to Google Analytics so you can see exactly where your website traffic is coming from.

Capturing the mobile buyer is not just about tuning your website – making sure your marketing efforts support mobile users is also important. Whenever you send emails, make sure you’ve proof read them on a mobile screen simulator (all the leading email marketing tools provide these). There’s a lot of information to be found online on this topic; for example avoid using too many images, which can take longer to download on a cellular network, meaning you miss the vital few seconds you have to capture a reader’s attention. Make buttons and links really clear, and easy to click on a touch screen – surrounded by plenty of whitespace.

Also consider the use of QR codes – the little square black and white graphics you see on posters, receipts and leaflets. They provide a quick way for mobile users to access a specific web page; which means they don’t need to type anything in, and you can take them to a page dedicated to that marketing campaign so you can make the all-important tracking more robust. Even if you’ve made a sale via a traditional, non-mobile way, you can still capture repeat business by providing a good offer with a QR code that can be scanned on a smartphone. People often aren’t by their computer when they open their package and check the receipt – but they usually have their phone with them.

These are just a few things to think about as we approach the busy holiday shopping season. If mobile isn’t in your strategy this year, it should be. You don’t want to get left behind! Here are some other great example of how retailers are using mobile as part of their business strategy to help get you inspired. 

References:
[1] http://www.ibm.com/benchmark
[2] http://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2013-11-28/mega-monday-uk-online-shopping-frenzy-expected

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About the Author

Grainne is the Head of Campaigns at Brightpearl and leads the execution of Brightpearl's global campaign strategy. Having worked in the retail tech space for five years, learning more about how technology can help retailers grow is a huge topic of interest.