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The Essential Guide to a Winning Mobile Website and E-Commerce Strategy

By: Ed Fox

 

With 60 percent of American retail sales anticipated to involve the Internet by 2017, there’s no denying the effect that mobile devices and social media have had on consumers’ shopping behaviors.
 
Indeed, the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Study found that between November 2013 and January 2014, 32 percent of online sales came from mobile devices, and Goldman Sachs forecasts expect mobile sales to reach $638 billion by 2018. So if you don’t have a solid mobile and e-commerce solution in place, you risk losing out on a significant portion of sales.
 
But it’s not enough to simply have mobile sales capability. You have to consider the user experience throughout the entire design process. Due to mobile’s limited space and your customers’ limited time, users need a more bite-sized experience. The trick is designing a solution that will guarantee that “bite” is highly engaging.
 
Key Features to Consider
 
When embarking on the mobile journey, your current web presence significantly impacts your strategy.
 
For example, if you’re building your web presence from scratch, begin with a mobile site and expand from there. It’s much easier to add details and features than it is to cut them out, and working with a leaner version of your site will help you prioritize key features and avoid any unnecessary clutter.
 
On the other hand, if you have an existing site, the first thing you should do is evaluate your current web presence and determine whether you’re capable of adapting your current site to a responsive design model. This way, you’ll only have one site to maintain and update.
 
Next, determine whether this functionality is best provided through a mobile web browser or a separate mobile app. Keep in mind that there’s a significant time and expertise investment required to create and maintain a separate mobile app, so if that’s your chosen route, make sure that the benefits will outweigh the costs. Once you have your mobile solution, it’s time to choose an e-commerce platform.
 
Here are several features small business owners should look for:
 
●    Compatibility: Every e-commerce platform has unique features, and customization can involve a lot of extra work. Make sure you choose a platform with standard features that align with your goals so you can limit the amount of time you have to spend tailoring it.
 
●    Scalability: Whether you need to accommodate for seasonal peaks and drops or a large-scale company expansion, choose a platform with good scalability to meet the changing needs of your business. A good platform will grow with you so you don’t have to completely start over down the road.
 
●    Community: When a platform has a large community, it has a well-developed support system equipped with ample resources and a wide array of professional developers who are familiar with the platform. This community can help you as you begin working with the platform and later on if you encounter any difficulties or want to explore new options.
 
●    Reputation: Firsthand client accounts and testimonials are invaluable to the decision-making process. They can help you realize the nature of the task ahead, as well as the possible outcome for your business.
 
●    Low barriers: It’s important to have fast turnaround and quick ROI. Some e-commerce platforms are open source with no monthly service fee, while others involve a subscription plan with accompanying services. Decide whether these services are worth the cost or simply unnecessary barriers to entry.
 
Strategies for Success
 
Once you’ve outlined your mobile strategy and chosen an e-commerce platform, you have to work to make them successful. The new reality is that mobile devices and social media have changed consumer shopping behavior and how companies engage their customers. Online shopping is exponentially growing two times faster than in-store shopping.
 
The 2013 Gartner Consumer Backbone Survey found that over 71 percent of consumers use their smartphones at least five times per day, while the Pew Research Center Internet Project January 2014 Omnibus Survey determined that 74 percent of consumers use social networking sites. These numbers make it essential that companies have a solid mobile strategy in place.
 
Here are four strategies that will help maximize the return on your mobile investment:
 
1  Tell a compelling story. Your e-commerce site should clearly tell a story that customers can connect with about your product, the value you offer, and your vision. This can be done through compelling web design with high-resolution images and videos or engaging content.
 
2    Use analytical tools and platforms. When used correctly, analytical tools can reduce cart abandonment and increase conversion rates. Use the LIFT Model for Web Page Analysis to analyze key pages and identify conversion barriers, and use KPIs to define and measure organizational progress.
 
3    Have an effective marketing strategy. Get creative with your campaigns, newsletters, social media posts, and loyalty programs to forge relationships with customers and encourage brand evangelism. These efforts should lead to product-specific landing pages and promotions.
 
4    Prioritize what’s important. Because visual space is inherently limited on a mobile site, you need to evaluate which features are most important and which will only distract from your overall message. It’s a matter of choosing what to include — as well as what to exclude — so your site provides an optimized experience for the user.
 
Defining mobile success is ultimately subjective. But by simply identifying what pain point your small business is trying to overcome — whether that’s increasing sales, inspiring customer loyalty, or spreading brand awareness — mobile can help you engage new and existing customers to take you there.
 
What pain point are you trying to overcome, and how will you use mobile to get there?
 
Jyot Singh is the founder and CEO of RTS Labs, an award-winning technology company focused on building highly scalable, reliable software solutions for emerging and fast growing companies. With over 15 years of in-the-trenches technology experience, Jyot has been a leader of many successful technology teams, and numerous implementations around web/mobile, salesforce and data analytics solutions. Most recently, he has been championing Big Data adoption in the midsize market.
 
Published: October 14, 2014
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Ed Fox

Ed Fox is the Director of Technology for Tarkenton. To assure users of a rich online experience (whether they are customers, employees, partners, or suppliers for a business), Ed combines knowledge of coding language, development and design, content management, and other critical tools. He also focuses on creating an effective website through search engine optimization and a deep and thorough understanding of web analytics. Connect with him on .

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