The Age of Mobile Devices: What Does it Mean for Your E-Commerce Business?

Your website may be generating a decent amount of business for you, but you’re going to hit a brick wall if you’re not focusing at least some of your efforts on mobile marketing. The mobile revolution has been underway for some time, but many e-commerce sites continue to lag woefully behind. Those that don’t embrace mobile lose significant amounts of business to their mobile friendly competitors.

If you’ve been holding off on mobile marketing or don’t see the point of it, it’s time you changed your tune.

mobile commerce apps
photo credit: Jason Howie

Mobile Usage Statistics and what They Mean for You

It’s easy to downplay the importance of mobile marketing when you don’t have a firm grasp of how many people rely on mobile devices. When you consider these statistics, which have been published online by Pew Internet, you’ll quickly see why mobile marketing is more important than ever:

  • As of May 2013, 91 percent of adults in the United States owned cell phones. 56 percent of U.S. adults owned smartphones at that time, so more than half of all adults can access the Internet wherever they go.
  • As of September 2013, 24 percent of Americans over the age of 16 owned e-readers, and another 35 percent owned tablets. People are more capable of accessing your e-commerce site on the go than ever.
  • According to the same research, 30 percent of respondents said that they’d used their smartphones to make decisions about shopping in the last 30 days. If your e-commerce site can’t be accessed easily via mobile devices, it’s not going to even be considered.

Be There for Your Customers

You can’t expect people to do business with you if they can’t find you. If your e-commerce site isn’t easily accessible on mobile devices, it is virtually invisible to a significant number of Internet users. At this very moment, prospective customers may be looking for your goods and services on their tablets and smartphones, and they’re giving their business to your competitors because they can’t find your site.

Not having a mobile site is akin to putting a brick-and-mortar store on the moon. Sure, it exists. No one can find it or even access it, though, so what’s the point?

Going Mobile: What are the Options?

E-commerce site owners often make the mistake of thinking their websites render properly on mobile devices. Without specifically designing a mobile friendly site, however, that’s highly unlikely to be true.

Normal websites don’t look right or work properly on tablets and smartphones. At the very least, they can take way too long to load. People don’t want to sit around waiting, so they will just click away and look for a different site. In many cases, important elements are missing altogether. For example, the “add to cart” button may not appear, which leaves people scratching their heads.

There are a few different ways to create a mobile friendly presence for your e-commerce business:

  • Create a Mobile Version of Your Site – This used to be the only option, and it continues to be a popular one. A second version of your site is created, and it’s specifically designed to work on mobile devices. There are many drawbacks to this option, though. Instead of having one site to maintain, you have two. There are also two sets of URLs, which reduces the power of your links and prevents you from achieving the best ranking on the search engines. If someone accidentally uses a mobile address on a regular computer, or vice-versa, he may receive an error message.
  • Have a Mobile App Designed – Mobile apps make sense for some businesses but not for others. Even if it makes sense for yours, you shouldn’t use a mobile app in place of a mobile website.
  • Responsive Website – Without a doubt, this is the best way to reach customers on their mobile devices. A single website is created, and it is coded in a way that ensures that it renders properly on all devices. Whether someone lands on your e-commerce site using a laptop, PC, tablet or smartphone, he will be presented with a well-designed, fully functional website.

Staying Connected is Crucial

Internet shoppers have more options than ever, and their expectations are higher than ever too. Are you going to be there for them, or do you expect them to do all of the heavy lifting? By putting a priority on mobile marketing and by creating a mobile friendly site, you’ll be able to reach out to a vast audience of prospective customers.
You can take things to the next level by adding live chat support to your site too. When combined with a first-rate mobile strategy, live chat is a powerful way to demonstrate that you’re willing to do what it takes to earn and keep people’s business.

Make sure to stay on the leading edge of these and other technologies to ensure that your e-commerce business continues to prosper and grow well into the future.

About the Author: Neran Ashkenazi, Founder of HelpOnClick LTD, usually works on improving his company’s products. When he has time to spare he writes in his personal blog and in  HelpOnClick™ blog about ways to improve customer satisfaction.