The bad news for online retailers is that conversion rates are consistently lower when users are on a mobile device compared to when they’re using a desktop.
While recent reports show that mobile web usage has overtaken PC web surfing for the first time late last year, there is some good news: mobile conversion rates are getting better.
So while users are switching to devices that historically offer lower conversion potential, things are improving as retailers learn how to produce better mobile experiences.
Advertising cloud provider Marin Software reported in June 2016 that conversion rates on mobile improved drastically over the previous 18 months.
Not all data is published yet for 2016 but is seems 2015 saw significantly higher mobile conversion rates compared to 2014.
It’s entirely possible that this improvement continued through 2016 as the mobile experience was further refined.
Figures by Monetate show global eCommerce conversion rates improved from 1.20% to 1.53% just in the period from late 2014 to late 2015.
In the UK, the figures were more dramatic. Smartphone conversion rates improved from 1.94% to 3.05% over just one year.
That’s a significant change, suggesting that consumers are becoming far more willing to complete the purchase process via mobile.
During the same period, mobile also took over the significant share of device usage.
Not only are more customers on mobile but they are also converting at higher rates now when using these devices.
This means that having a lower conversion rate on these devices is more significant than ever for retailers.
Any online retailer worth their salt knows that eCommerce is shifting to mobile. Forrester data suggests that sales made on smartphones and tablets will be worth $252 billion by 2020 – that’s nearly double the estimated total of $115 billion in 2015.
But there continues to be a disconnect between traffic on mobile and the sales made there. Although nearly half of eCommerce traffic comes from mobile, these devices account for just over a quarter of sales.
How to improve mobile conversion rates
Although conversion rates from mobile users are persistently lower, your business can fight this trend by improving the user experience on mobile. And it’s well worth doing: with mobile now responsible for a heavy slice of your traffic, even a small increase in conversion rate on these devices is worth fighting for.
Giving the customer the ability to find out more about the product on offer is a major contributor to their confidence, and hence their willingness to purchase.
Make sure they have the ability to zoom into images, view multiple angles, and discover product details, as these features will all enhance their confidence about what they are committing to buy.
eCommerce retailers should also be embracing video as a tool to drive conversion. It helps users find out about the product and how it is used, and video is also helpful to support user browsing and even replace the traditional product pages.
Simplifying your mobile checkout process is another way to boost conversion rates. Allowing users to buy without registering (also known as guest checkout), or enabling 1-click purchasing for regular customers, makes it easier and therefore faster for users to buy from you.
In fact, any move that takes steps out of the mobile purchasing process will help drive conversions and reduce basket abandonment.
Pruning fields out of your registration form is an obvious way to reduce user effort.
You can also help them checkout faster using tools such as the Google Maps plugin, which will automatically suggest their address.
Visual calendars are faster ways to input dates, and integrating Amazon Payments means customers can login using their existing Amazon account without leaving your website. This also means they can use 1-click mobile checkout.
Get rid of any distractions from the conversion process. This includes any popups, which just irritate users. Make sure the content on the page is streamlined and the number of images is limited to improve page loading speeds.
You should also separate any interactive elements on the page, such as buttons, links or clickable images. This helps prevent frustrating users who unintentionally click on something they didn’t mean to.
Enabling a cross-device experience is also helpful to promoting conversion.
Although customers often shop using a mobile device, this may not mean this is the only device they have available.
Nielsen research showed that 68% of mobile experiences took place at home where other (larger) devices were available.
This contradicts the received wisdom that mobile browsing only happens when other devices are unavailable, such as on a commute.
Giving the user the opportunity to change device during the shopping process (for example, asking is they want their shopping list sent to them via email, or letting them create a wish list) can help them pick up on a different device, should they want to.
When it comes to optimizing your mobile conversion rate, remember that A/B testing is your best approach.
It could be surprising what works best for you when it comes to improving your performance.
According to BI Intelligence data, mobile commerce is likely to make up 45% of total online spend in the US by 2020, and it’s likely to be very similar in the eCommerce-friendly UK.
It makes sense for your business to get ahead in the conversion game now, as getting the mobile experience right for your customer will really impact on your future bottom line.