My mobile phone is both my new limb and a new member of the family; a constant companion that helps me communicate, be entertained and in many respects function. OK, that might be overstating it, but try living without your phone, for even a short time, and you'll know what I mean. (Ed: off at a tangent I know but see Digital Detox challenge with an email holiday)
My wife asked me once when I’d introduce this new member of the family; such is the amount of time I spend on my phone. This caused me to be pretty introspective on how my mobile phone use has changed in the last few years. Aside from all the usual convergence elements that my phone now provides me with, one thing jumped out at me; my phone has become my shopping sidekick. I very rarely use my laptop or desktop computers to make online purchases, the vast majority take place on my iPad or my mobile phone, or at least, that's the plan.
The Implications of Getting it Wrong
I say 'plan', because my efforts to shop online, particularly when I'm out and about, are frequently ruined by the poor quality e-commerce stores that I come across. Here's a scenario some of you might find familiar. I'm a man and rightly or wrongly, am not a great lover of traditional 'going to the shops' shopping, preferring instead to get what I want then leave. But for many purchases, I prefer to visit a real shop. Because sometimes I want to get a proper look at what it is I'm planning on buying. I visit a store, have a look, like what I see, but rather than making my way to the cashier, I reach for my phone.
I know Scots are often derided for being frugal but for me, it's now an automatic step. I want to see what this costs online because history tells me that I'll usually not only find it cheaper but also hear about what others have thought of the product and whether there are any pitfalls to be avoided. I fire the name of the product into Google, and sure enough, I can see that I'd be paying over the odds for it. Of course, sometimes the product might not be stocked in-store and that child-like instant gratification thing kicks in, so I want to see how quickly I can get the product delivered to me. That's when the fun begins. The site might have a great deal, but using their site proves to be a great deal of hassle. So what do I do? I go back to Google, (Ed: or your favourite other Search Engine).
Does that sound familiar?
What Does This Mean
If you run an e-commerce store and don't have a mobile commerce (m-commerce) strategy, then you are unquestionably leaving money on the table. Your price might be competitive, and you may have built up a loyal following of customers, but I'm not one of them. This is my first experience with your business. In some instances, I simply won't be able to find the product I want. Either the sites navigation is poor, or the search function appears to be on a 'go-slow'. If I do manage to locate the product I'm after; I'm frequently forced to zoom in or out, or move from landscape to portrait viewing just to get find out more. Then the gallery of product images doesn't work, and to top it all, if I finally get to the shopping cart, I find that it simply doesn't work.
In too many cases, online shop owners are forcing their potential customer to modify their learned e-commerce behaviours and habits. They ask us to make an exception and to figure it out for ourselves. That's why so many potential customers, never graduate to becoming real customers. We abandon our shopping cart. We go elsewhere, and what's more, we won't be back. Our negative experience means this relationship is well and truly over. Your e-commerce site might work a charm on a desktop, laptop or possibly even a tablet - but it failed to deliver for me when I needed it.
Failure to have an effective mobile friendly store for your business is seriously dangerous to your online aspirations. You need to optimise your site for the mobile user because they represent such a massive, and growing part of your business.
According to recent figures, mobile commerce in the UK now accounts for 40% of all online retail purchases, and that figure is only going to increase. That's a massive potential market that online retailers with no mobile commerce focus are sacrificing. In the UK alone, this is generating businesses more than £6.6 billion a year.
A mobile optimised store is no longer a nice to have, it's an absolute necessity. Every day, week or month you don't have one represents a missed opportunity for your business. You might be one of the 58% of businesses who get this and have already invested in a mobile optimised website. (Ed: I’m amazed that the number is so high and look forward to seeing other research which supports that). If you're not, then you need to, and we can help.
Mobile Commerce @ Inspire
We've been developing mobile friendly websites since we started and mobile optimised websites for over 4 years now, and for those that have the budget that's included the development of custom-built mobile commerce sites for our clients. Our approach is to understand your business, your market and your customers. Far from being an after-thought, we take a 'mobile first' approach to all our web projects. The result is a user-friendly, mobile storefront that is easy to navigate with a simple and secure checkout process.
To find out how we can help turn a mobile store into a genuine asset for your business contact David on 01738 700 006 or fill in our enquiry form.
David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David’s academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.
Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos