Mobile Commerce, and Why It Matters.
When we build our eCommerce platforms we may not take into account the fact that the same product page will be visualised with several devices, in all sorts of configurations. Long story short, the approach we need to adapt to make our eCommerce product pages successful needs to account for mobile traffic, not as a source of traffic, but as the source of traffic.
This makes UX design a very important element of the design of our eCommerce platform, which we simply cannot downplay.
To understand how mobile commerce is affecting businesses across the board, we can look at some data:
- In 2017, for the first time, mobile phone traffic has surpassed desktop traffic for the first time.
- 65% of e-commerce purchases come from desktop, 25% from mobile and 10% from tablet.
Even if we have an increase in mobile traffic, the conversion rate for mobile users is still lower than the one of desktop users. This is due to a phenomenon which is called webrooming whereby consumers are only using their phone to conduct research and compare prices, without actually following through with the transaction.
In this post, we're going to look at how mobile traffic is impacting your ecommercemarketplace platform, and what can be done to make sure that this trend becomes a source of profit for your business.
The subject of the article is quite complex so to make your navigation easier we broke it down in a few different sections to help you find what you are looking for right away.
1. How purchase behaviour is affected by mobile
2. Mobile commerce disrupts distribution and consumer behaviour
3. What changes is mobile commerce bringing to the picture?
4. 8 Tips to increase the success of your e-commerce design
5. Readings for further research
1. How Purchase Behaviour is Affected by Mobile
The model we’re going to use was developed by Kotler and describes the stages consumers go through when they approach a purchase decision.
Before, the mobile revolution, all these four stages were conducted offline. Now depending on the types of products and services we need to acquire the customer journey can either happen online or offline.
Let’s see to what extent the buyer behaviour model can be applied in the context of mobile commerce:
- Problem Recognition. Problem recognition deals with the "inception" of the purchase decision, occurring when we find a problem that needs to be solved. Companies will try and position their brand in our minds so that we'll be better able to recall their company when a particular problem shows up. On the web, this stage of buying behaviour is addressed through a variety of inbound marketing strategies.
- Information Search. The next stage in buying behaviour entails for information search: the more serious the problem we need to solve, the more time we'll spend collecting information. As the volume of information on the internet is too much for us to process, we rely on search engines to refine what we are looking for and help us better understand what we need. In this context SEO and SEM, marketing plays an important role in reaching potential customers before the competition.
- Evaluation of Alternatives. This stage relates to the evaluation of the outputs of our research so that we can find the most viable solution to our problem. On the web, whenever we reach the conclusion of our research stage, we can simply start the process to test the quality of our results, by looking at review websites for instance. During the alternative evaluating stage we usually take into account a cost-benefit relationship. There are usually 4 ways in which this comparison can play out: more for less, more for more, more for the same, less for much less.
- Purchase Decision. This is the central stage of the buying process: deciding whether we want to go ahead with a purchase.
As most purchase decisions are grounded on an emotional drive there are a few factors that can influence consumer behaviour. One of the elements working against our conversion rates has to do with the fact that on the web shops are always open, and don't establish any urgency. Companies need to go through intensive promotional efforts in order to ignite customers' desires.
- Post Purchase Behaviour. This accounts for customer support, and post-purchase customer management, which involves dealing both with customer satisfaction or, for instance, managing returns. This might seem like a detail, but most practitioners tend to agree that customer service is becoming a very effective way to establish loyalty and build a strong customer base.
What other elements apply specifically by mobile devices? Let’s see what unique set of features mobile commerce brings to the picture.
2. Mobile Commerce Disrupts Distribution and Consumer Behaviour
Understanding consumer behaviour is fundamental to design any business strategy. If you don’t understand your customer, you don’t understand hisher needs and pains, and you're unlikely to find a problem to solve for your consumers.
It may be much easier to deal with a customer when he shows up at your physical store but even in the world of mobile commerce, a lot can be done. In this context, through thoughtful customer service, it's possible to create a connection to a one time shopper and turn himher into a regular customer.
In the next section of this post, we're going to discuss how interface design can really help narrow down the distance between an online and in-store experience, allowing to reach and retain more visitor, while keeping everybody a happy shopper.
If we focus on the unique elements of mobile commerce we realise that technology has some extraordinary advantages based on mobile sourcing of user data. This proves to be a very effective weapon to create personalised user experiences and interface designs which consistently convert traffic into sales. Let's now see how a well-conceived design can turn your website into a lead generating machine.
3. What Changes is Mobile commerce bringing to the picture?
Technology has levelled the playing field, creating a more equal competitive environment where larger is often a synonym of inefficient and wasteful. Small organisations can use digital technologies to thrive, but the scale of production still matters, as and the distribution channels have become much more pull-oriented (demand-based) than push-oriented.
Let's see what are the defining elements of mobile commerce, and how you can use them to your advantage.
- Ubiquity. This term refers to distribution, as though mobile everything is available everywhere. Companies who have spent huge amounts of resources in developing distribution channels and POS (Points of Sale) networks are now suffering from a variety of challenges. First and foremost, the ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) perspective, suggests that consumers are heavily influenced in their perception of a brand even before they enter a retail location. In this sense, the perception of a company’s digital presence is as influential - if not more influential - than its physical presence. Companies who have invested in creating locations in the world’s most prestigious real estate locations, are now changing their approach and pursuing inbound digital marketing strategies that can interact on a digital level with their consumers.
- Convenience. The traditional supply chain management approach creates a base cost for consumers that accounts for all of the company's value chain stages: research and development, production, distribution and sales. By allowing companies to directly reach customers, mobile commerce has given firms the opportunity to develop a process of ‘disintermediation’ whereby clients are able to access warehouses and wholesalers with a single tap on their screen. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that even if we can get rid of the intermediator, we cannot get rid of the intermediator's functions. This is why many websites now serve the exact purpose of creating a re-intermediation location: essentially advising customers regarding companies, that online, look very similar and can be hardly distinguished. As we can see in cases such as opodo.com, at times it’s the companies themselves (of the air travel industry in this case) that build intermediation platforms to help customers navigate different travel offers and choose the best fit.
- Interactivity. E-commerce platforms are able to create dynamic experiences which allow the customer to decide the degree of information they need to acquire from a product before purchasing it. To some extent in the digital world, an e-commerce product page can be compared to a company's brand ambassador. A product page is structured to provide all of the necessary information to an interested customer and at the same time provide online support for any unforeseen query through online chat and customer support.
- Personalisation. As mobile phones allow for data collection, companies are able to personalise each customer’s mobile experience based on collected data such as shopping preferences, previous seen articles and products, purchase history and more. This also allows creating a smoother ‘checkout’ process as companies are able to store credit card numbers, addresses for shipping and invoicing, along with other user preferences.
- Localisation. In the case that customer data was not available we can still draw information for purchase preferences in other ways. Mobile data sourcing allows us to pull localised information such as weather, site-specific consumer behaviour and other community-sourced data. This allows companies to advise customers on the grounds of geographical information, for instance advising a user on where the closest point of contact can be found.
All of these different elements, therefore, allow for marketing strategies which adopt the personas marketing framework. This approach provides with a large amount of information and creates shopping experiences that perfectly meet our customer’s needs.
After having analysed the way in which companies are adapting to mobile commerce to understand the shopping trajectories followed by consumers, we will now focus on e-commerce user experience design to see how this is brought to action.
4. 8 Tips to increase the success of your E-Commerce Design
Here are some design principles that allow us to understand how to create a seamless e-commerce experience for your mobile user.
- Your conversion rate and ability to sell is inversely proportional to your consumer’s ability to think. Increase the user’s ability to consume material by reducing the user’s ability to think, via the use of defaults.
This is a simple principle that goes a long way. The purchase cycle of our customers is usually not daily, or weekly but monthly. A longer purchase cycle makes our customers unfamiliar with an e-commerce platform, as this is not something they are exposed to on a daily basis. By using default settings, you can assist your customers in scrolling through your website using community-sourced data to determine the most statistically relevant choices. This can be applied to everything, from product display to payment methods, to best buys, to cross-selling and more. We need to consider any unnecessary information as friction between a visitor and a conversion. In other words, the more they scroll, the less they click.
- Reduce Anxiety for Communication. In order not to create a sense of anxiety in your consumer you need to make sure that the content is able to provide a clear structure so that customers can become instantly able to recognise the value delivered by the website. It’s essential that we can clarify instantly our e-commerce product categories or service categories. The responsiveness and adaptability of website design must foster a seamless transition in communicating the most relevant information, within the smallest amount of time.
- Support the navigation experience by providing constant benefits. This is also important and is applied in many different situations where you need to make sure your clients engage with the platform. Customers will always follow the costbenefit - riskreward logic through every single click onto the website and therefore UX design needs to effectively reinforce the motives pushing clients to click and interact with the platform.
- Action indicator. Every time a consumer does something, the website needs to acknowledge it, through animation. This helps consumers understand what type of information or process is being managed by the website or app. An example of this is indicated by notifications like '1 item has been added to your shopping bag’ for as simple as this message can be, it helps customers navigate the platform knowing what is happening and why.
- Descriptive indicators and buttons. We need to use clear text to communicate to the customer what happens if they click, this again helps us clarify what benefits and outcomes can be expected from each interaction.
An example of this practice can be found in buttons indicating information such as:
‘Continue to Checkout’
‘Continue to Secure Payment’.
As opposed to simply 'next', or 'continue'. These last formats do not provide any information on what will happen as a consequence of us clicking a button. Moreover, it’s necessary to clarify how many stages the purchase process entails so that every single click informs customers of what they are doing and what will happen next.
- On mobile, you need to reinforce security. Providing constant reassurance of security standards when processing online payments is a necessity. Most users don’t think that mobile transactions are as secure as desktop transactions. We need to balance this irrationality with clear references to mobile security. Apparently, the lock icon size makes an impact: the bigger the icon the more secure a customer feels.
- Data entry, like sign-in forms, need to be extremely focused. You need to be crystal clear regarding what information needs to be entered. If customers are provided with unclear layouts you are making it very difficult for them to actually complete the form and sign inregister from mobile.
- Transparency is essential. if you list shipping costs too late in the shopping check-out, customers may be more prone to leave the purchase process. At the same time, if you list a high shipping price from the beginning, customers may consider the final price too high and not follow through anyway. Rewarding customers with free shipping above a certain ticket price can be an effective way to get more conversions at a higher price.
Other mobile-specific issues have to do with the fact that typing is really hard on the phone. We delve more into these types of issues in this post where we look at native application design. There are a few overlaps between e-commerce and native apps, and this is because to some extent mobile responsive websites need to look more and more like mobile apps to reassure the customer that they still are where they are supposed to be.
We hope you enjoyed the article, and we recommend looking through our suggested reading list for more details on this interesting topic.