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Mcommerce emergency: Seven reasons why mobile commerce goes wrong

1st Sep 2014
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Mobile devices may be accounting for a growing volume of online purchases, but customers are still finding mcommerce a frustrating experience.

According to EpiServer’s latest study, half of mobile shoppers are irritated by a poor experience when shopping via their device, caused by problems including slow site speeds (49%), unresponsive sites (48%) and difficulties logging in (35%).

As a result, one in five smartphone and tablet users cannot easily complete transactions on a mobile device.

Unsurprisingly, this is having a major impact on those businesses that are failing to address these concerns, with the poll of 1,000 UK smartphone and tablet owners revealing that 54% of consumers claim they leave a mobile site when they run into difficulty and over a quarter (28%) reporting that they turn to a competitor.

So where is mobile commerce going wrong? Experts share their thoughts on the most common mistakes that blight the mobile shopping experience.

1. A poorly designed mobile website

“It needs to be acknowledged that mobile is not a mini version of the web and therefore requires extra investment and education,” suggests Alison Curry-Taylor, operations director at Daily Internet. “A common design mistake is to have too many visual elements. A confusing eye path can result in the loss of potential purchasers through confusion and frustration. Bear in mind that when users are not able to get an overview of the entire website by quickly scanning the home page, they will feel less confident with the website and often end up choosing the wrong path for their task and ultimately leaving the site. This is not advising against graphics, but do limit their size if they are above the fold on the home page, and design them to have a clear eye path.”

2. A site that forces customers into certain behaviours

“The most basic thing brands need to get right is: stop trying to prescribe what the consumer is looking for,” argues Jess Iandiorio, VP of product marketing at Acquia. “A brand’s main web experience is typically designed to accommodate everything from a general browsing experience, to detailed product discovery, to specific product search, etc. However, mobile web and app experiences are rigidly designed with a specific use case in mind and try to force the consumer down that path.  

“For example - if you look at on your computer versus your smart phone – the same experience is delivered in an optimal way by responsive web design. In comparison, visit on your computer - where you can explore the brand and products with rich visualisations and options, versus visiting on your smartphone. Tiffany has decided that first they want to promote their Enchant product line, then they think you might be looking for store location information, then you might want to just shop… it’s clear they’ve prescribed an experience that they feel meets their promotional goals, and what they think the consumer wants. Brands should stop seeking so much control over the mobile experience because they’re likely losing opportunity to build great digital experiences.”

3. A poor checkout processes

“One of the most commonly cited problems is around the checkout step,” says Gareth Mackown, mobile leader for IBM Global Business Services UK & Ireland. “There can be a drop-off of potential customers who do not complete the buying journey because the checkout process is too hard or because it needs them to enter in credit card details and they’re sat in a public area and they don’t want to. Or it could be that they’re being taken out to another site or being taken away from the app that they’re in. It’s a real challenge to get right. And there’s a lot of activity from both major players and also start-ups in the space who are trying to ease the checkout processes. I think most of the smart retailers are exploring those options to try and really simplify and streamline that and make it really frictionless.”

“You need to get the shopping cart optimised for mobile,” agrees Tim Jenkins, UK director of e-Spirit. “If the check-out is complicated, requesting a lot of information (shipping address, invoice address, payment info, etc.) on the small screen, customers will discard their shopping tour. Forms need to be easy to fill out with the small keypad, only ask for relevant information to keep forms short, provide secure but easy log-in functionality.”

4. Mobile not being integrated with other channels

“The most common mistake brands make is treating mobile as a completely separate channel – especially separate from the in-store experience they offer,” warns Alan Gabbay, CEO of Udozi. “Today, 7 in 10 Brits have a smartphone. Retailers have been quick to make their desktop shopping experience available on mobile, but they have not taken advantage of some of the possibilities unique to mobile like location-based services. Retailers have also not incorporated the behavioural differences that come with mobile shopping into their approach to the platform.

“Mobile allows consumers to quickly and easily find items wherever they are – and they are often in-store. 57% of shoppers use their smartphone to search for information when they are out shopping, 63% of whom use their phones to compare prices and 34% of whom access competing retailers’ websites while they are in-store. A seamless mobile to in-store experience would encourage consumers to utilise their mobile devices to locate what they are looking for in order to take it home the same day from the High Street.”

Alexandre Vaz, CEO of Liquid, adds: “The biggest mistake companies make when rolling out their mcommerce strategy is creating a mcommerce app just because they need to be in that space, but without considering how does it fit in the overall strategy and how much in fact does it change the overall strategy. At the very least, companies should think that their mcommerce app needs to be integrated with their remaining channels so the customer experience is seamless between the channels.”

5. A slow mobile website

“There are often very simple reasons why mobile sites and apps can struggle, and even major organisations are failing to get it right,” suggests Michael Allen, VP of APM at Compuware. “For example, analysis conducted on the Official FIFA mobile site and app  ahead of the World Cup revealed a number of very basic schoolboy errors that were slowing down page load times and hampering the user experience.

“Some of the most common mistakes include basic coding errors and inefficiencies introduced during the development process, which can drag mobile site performance down. Many sites and apps are also built using third-party library code to enable basic functionality such as page refreshes. Whilst this can help to speed up the development process and isn’t a problem in itself, library code can quickly become outdated, so it is essential that brands keep an eye on how these features are impacting on the overall performance of their mobile sites and apps in order to identify when they need to be updated. Integrating this monitoring with crash analytics can also help to quickly identify and triage the source of any glitches that could be causing a mobile site or app to fall over.”

6. A mobile website that doesn't adapt to changing consumer needs

 “The biggest mistake would be to design the mobile presence once, then not adjust it again. User behaviour and user expectations change so fast, brands will have to keep optimising and innovating or they will risk falling behind,” says Oliver Durand, director of solution management at Intershop.

“There is a plethora of technologies out there for mobile websites but rather than blindly following the latest trend, it is key to understand which technologies are actually worth investing in. Brands should always have the user experience in mind. The most fundamental thing is to understand who the customers are and how to meet their needs. Observing and analysing how mobile users behave on the website, whether they abandon the shopping process and why, will help brands adjust the user experience, identify any potential for optimisation, and prioritise investments.”

7. No mobile strategy

“Brands need to be able to guarantee a consistently good ongoing service, because customers are always just a click away from leaving you.  The most common mistake is to rush into mobile without developing a comprehensive strategy,” warns Thomas Gronbach, digital quality expert at Keynote.

“Some brands are too quick to launch mobile sites and apps because they feel the pressure to meet the needs of their customers and jump one step ahead of their competitors.  However, when things start to go wrong – and they most likely will – experience shows that customers will only lose patience.  For example, when it comes to mobile commerce, if coupons are out of date, product information is missing, or there are delays in loading the brand’s site, instead of meeting the expectations of customers, you get the complete opposite – and it’s those customers that are not likely to return.  Bad ratings for mobile apps can create years’ worth of work to change perception.”

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