The market research company YouGov reports that nearly half of all mobile owners in the UK are now using smartphones, with this number expected to grow to 55% by the end of the year. What is everyone doing with their smartphones? They’re shopping online. Nearly 13% of web traffic in 2011 stemmed from mobile devices, which means that ecommerce business owners have felt the need to get in line and provide their products on a mobile-friendly platform.
When examining the latest ecommerce trends, it’s clear that a rush to move to a mobile-optimized ecommerce website has been at the top of the list for many businesses. This trend is poised to continue, with cool new features for smartphone and tablet users seen in many ecommerce shops.
Design for Mobile Optimization
For any ecommerce shop to successfully make the transition from the big screen to the small, it’s necessary to fiddle with the design a bit. The navigation has to be scroll-friendly, without the need to input too much data. Today’s ecommerce hosting programs often allow business owners to optimize their site for mobile use. The use of Flash animation is not supported on Tablets and can overload smartphones, so this is usually avoided in mobile websites. Mobile design will also avoid the use of pop-ups or banner ads for the same reason.
Dealing with Less-than-perfect Connections
Internet connections can be somewhat unstable when using a mobile device, as signal strength can change on a dime. This can be particularly frustrating if you’re in the middle of completing a transaction. The best ecommerce sites will account for this when they are optimizing their websites with a few simple features. For example, they can automatically save all of the steps in the checkout process as they’re completed, so that you don’t have to go back and refill your shopping cart. The best sites will allow you to go back to the point of the transaction that you were at when your signal was dropped, and will keep the checkout system as streamlined as possible to begin with.
Mobile Gaming Features
One of the most exciting trends for smartphone and tablet users in the world of ecommerce is the new use of gaming technology. Some retail brands are now using mobile games as a promotional tool, such as Lexus using the Draw Something app from Zynga to promote their new ES model. Companies can offer a gaming app as a reward for signing up on their website, or reward the consumer with discounts when they beat a certain level.
Brands are also using mobile technology to provide online discounts. Apps like PriceCheck from Amazon allow you to scan barcodes on products in brick and mortar stores and then compare them to Amazon’s own prices. If you choose to buy the product from Amazon rather than the store and place the item into your virtual basket, you can receive a discount. These are just a few examples of how mobile technology is combining more and more with the shopping experience.