Mobile eCommerce: The Changing Terrain


The importance of mobile phones has grown immensely globally and has significant ramifications for retailers around the world. The mobile phone has changed the relationship that individuals have with their ability to connect, making the physical and the online world converging. Amongst the United States audience, the chances are relatively high that they are engaging with your eCommerce website using a mobile phone. Failing to provide a mobile friendly website can have your eCommerce website at a huge disadvantage.  Focusing on the basics, using wireless handheld electronic devices, is a different experience for users than using a desktop website.  The main focus is that the user is able to have well suited screen size in order to have a positive shopping experience.

Traditionally, eCommerce platforms have two different types of offerings: .M or Mobile dedicated and responsive sites. On M. or mobile dedicated sites, you can decide which version of your website users get. For example, for mobile phones you usually want to only load the most necessary information as fast as possible. This way, you only use the data you need and desktop versions of the site do not have to be shrunken down to mobile size, which sometimes can lead to distorted graphics and layouts. On the other hand, M. websites don’t offer the same kind of versatility as the responsive and hybrid solutions. With M. sites, you essentially lock the user into the mobile view, this can cause problems when some features are not available in the mobile view and the user has to resort to viewing the desktop version on a mobile device. This creates a poor user experience. Another disadvantage is the possibility of running into a duplicate content issue, since with M. sites you have two separate sets of the website, this can lead to a disjointed experience. Now to the responsive site. Responsive sites are perfect for imagery and art dedicated sites, which does not distort the graphic in anyway. Responsive sites are just that- they respond to different elements when viewed on devices of different sizes.  You only have one version of the website and you don’t run into the same problems as you would with mobile dedicated sites. The downside is that responsive sites do not allow you to view desktop versions of sites. In other words, if you have a feature you can’t see using the mobile site, you have to use another device.

So what does this mean for Internet retailors? The growth of the mobile phone will force brands to optimize mobile checkouts. The research shows that the mobile phone has much worse checkout rates than the desktop. Many buyers will shop on eCommerce websites, but continue to do shopping cart abandonment.  So how can that be changed? The mobile trends will continue and force brands to grow in conversion rates and checkout rates as the physical and the online worlds continue to merge. The efficiency of buy buttons and how consumers engage with those buttons has everything to do with whether mobile eCommerce will be successful. Furthermore, eCommerce shopping has a chance to be successful with Millennials who are using the mobile phone as their primary device for just about everything. If retailers start to focus on that concept they have a chance to get individuals to spend more.  Also, according to Digiday by 2020 the mobile phone will contribute to 45% of all eCommerce traffic. They also note that it will be the mobile web and not applications that will be the driver in that eCommerce traffic. Only the leaders in the eCommerce world will have regular usage of the applications, while the rest of internet retailers will need to have optimized website for their transactions in order to be effective. The level of sophistication of your online business will have to be ready for the ever-changing habits of users who are navigating the shopping world through many different communication technologies.

Author: Wiebke Reile and Lailan Ghafur

Lailan Ghafur and Wiebke Reile work together as the SearchFit Marketing Team. Lailan was born and raised in San Diego and works as marketing coordinator for SearchFit. She received her degree in Linguistics from UCSC and is currently living in Encinitas, CA. Wiebke has been social media strategist for the last eight years in the Internet Industry. She has also professionally worked in the film and television industry as a documentary film editor in New York City. Currently, she is a researcher for the University of Hawai’i and pursuing her doctorate degree in Communication and Information Sciences.

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