Screen Pages: Bridging the Mobile Conversion Gap. Best practice advice for mobile eCommerce.
In December 2022, 60.29% of global internet traffic was through a mobile device. This number has stayed relatively stable since then, sitting at 54.4% in August 2023. (Statcounter) Whilst more sales still occur on desktop, the volume of sales on mobile devices is growing and in some industries, such as fashion, mobile and tablet device sales account for over half of all revenue. B2B enquiries are also happening more on mobile – TechJury puts the percentage at 50%. So, if all of these sales and enquiries are coming through on mobile, are businesses doing enough to create the right kind of user experience away from desktop? Google suggests that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a poor mobile experience, so are we turning customers away by neglecting mobile eCommerce? We wanted to dive deeper into this topic, so we asked Director of Screen Pages, Sarah, to answer a few questions about the mobile conversion gap…
What is the mobile conversion gap and why is it problematic?
We’ve built about 450 ecommerce sites, and in more recent years the percentage of traffic coming to our clients’ sites from mobile devices has grown. Most of our clients now get about 75% of traffic from mobile devices but their analytics shows that the conversion on desktop is often much higher than on mobile. That’s why it’s problematic.
We’re working with a lot of our clients on the UX of their website to improve the conversion rate from mobile. Often the first time a new customer will see the site will be on mobile and you don’t want to lose that potential customer by providing a poor mobile experience.
Businesses that are purely B2B often have much higher desktop traffic. Mobile is much higher for direct to consumer websites, apart from B2B websites that are selling to people on the move or out in the field such as engineers – then the percentage of mobile traffic is very similar to B2C websites. As a result, you’ve got to almost always take a mobile first approach to make that journey seamless. We have seen a lot of improvements in conversion rates just by changing the UX of the site in general. A lot of our merchants are only looking at their websites from their desktop computers so they’ll do things like upload images and content that looks great on desktop but is not mobile friendly.
Does mobile ecommerce get neglected, and if so, why do you think this is?
Yes, it definitely gets neglected because people often don’t check their own websites on mobile devices and it’s a big problem.
Often we’ll do a quality assurance audit for a client for free, from mobile devices, and we’ll spot all sorts of issues with content and images. The checkout experience on mobile devices also gets neglected. Things like having dropdowns for selecting things or having tiny buttons and not considering the size of people’s fingers trying to press small buttons.
Usability is an issue and a lot of people don’t understand that there are differences between different devices. It’s easy to design a site for one operating system, iPhones for example, but that’s a small part of the overall demographic and doesn’t consider android devices. We have to constantly remind people to test any changes they make to their sites across IOS and Android devices before they put it live.
Are there any industries in particular who need to bridge this gap or is it industry wide?
There doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule actually. Repeat purchase products and FMCGs lend themselves very well to ordering from your mobile device. you don’t need to look at an image, you’re not browsing or reading much because you know what you’re buying so the UX is less important because you’ll just get in, add it to your basket and check out. I’m talking about a face cream that you might buy once a month, or regular health supplements or something like that.
It’s definitely more of an issue in general with direct to consumer than it is with trade, but I think that that’s changing. We’re noticing that our B2B ecommerce merchants are becoming a lot more aware of the usability issues with their websites. But historically, ecommerce has been lagging behind in the B2B sector.
How important are mobile conversions to ecommerce businesses?
They’re pretty important for everybody, in every industry.
What I’ve noticed is that a lot of our merchants find analytics tricky and don’t know how to see the conversion on mobile versus conversion on desktop, for example. So that’s the first thing we have to show them, and once they’ve seen it, it becomes a big issue for them. Especially once they can see that the bulk of their traffic is coming from mobile devices and that the conversion is only a quarter or a third of what it is on desktop.
As soon as you highlight that to them it goes on the agenda and it becomes a KPI. There’s an education process that needs to take place to explain that it’s very difficult to achieve parity between mobile and desktop but there are things we can do to improve it.
I’m not sure there will ever be parity between the two because a lot of people start their journey on mobile devices and then complete on desktop, especially if it’s a considered purchase. Fortunately there are lots of ways you can help to address the conversion gap and one is to improve the UX on a responsive site. Another would be to build the site as a progressive web app, so that users effectively have an app like experience when they’re navigating the site from a mobile device but a responsive experience on desktop, all via one platform.
You can also focus on the low hanging fruit, which goes back to the question of ‘have you actually tried shopping on your own website on a mobile device?’ Once they do they’ll notice you have to scroll to get to the add to basket button, and things like that. Basic things can be done to increase the conversion on mobile, so it’s very important to all ecommerce businesses to do those things and increase their mobile conversion rates.
What are some of the biggest problems you’ve seen with UX on mobile in relation to conversions?
It could simply be ‘where’s the add to basket button?’ or ‘where’s’ the proceed to checkout button?’ Making things visible and the key calls to action being visible with the limited real estate offered by mobile devices. Don’t make people scroll to get to the next step, especially in the checkout; that’s where the biggest problems lie.
Those are the UX problems, the other issues are making it easy to pay on a mobile device. Are you offering PayPal or Google pay or Apple pay or something that has an easy, slick payment option. Then also the shipping; making sure that shipping options are really obvious on a mobile device.
How should an ecommerce website start to improve their mobile conversions?
In the checkout. It’s always the biggest issue.
Looking in your analytics to see the granularity on where the checkout problems are and looking at where people are leaving the funnel. A lot of merchants don’t have a good understanding of how to view Google Analytics stats, which is where agencies like yourselves come in. Once you know how to interpret these stats, you can see if customers are they dropping out at the first step, or the delivery step, or the payment step? Having this information allows you to focus on the most important issues first and slowly move on to the lesser priorities.
Ideally, you’d do it all in one go but then if you do that you’ll often be making changes that actually you can’t measure.
How important is it for businesses to test their own conversion journeys? Should ecommerce businesses be investing in user testing?
Yes, I do. I don’t think user testing happens on enough ecommerce websites.
It doesn’t have to be a very expensive exercise, you could just ask some of your best customers to test your site and give you some feedback and send them a freebie in exchange for that. Or you could ask all of your staff who aren’t in the ecommerce department to spend an hour testing the site and you’ll get a huge amount of feedback. You’ll get a lot of feedback that you don’t want as well as lots you do! Some won’t be actionable so you’ve got to have time to go through it and pick out the actionable items but user testing is really important. There are also companies that can help with user testing.
Are there accessibility issues with mobile conversions (e.g. text size or button size) that ecommerce businesses need to think about and how can these be overcome?
With accessibility it’s a tough one. We used to work with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, this was a long time ago, and they had a website selling phones and other products for visually impaired people so it was very interesting because we learnt a lot from them about accessibility. These days, accessibility has become much more serious online; it’s not the law in the UK to have an accessible website but in places like America, it is. You can be sued if your site doesn’t meet the required standards.
Accessibility is not just about making sure it works for visually impaired people, it’s also people with ADHD or other learning differences. It can be very difficult for someone with ADHD or Autism, for example, when a website has lots of bright colours and sounds.
You could spend an awful lot of time and money trying to make your website perfect for everybody, what we recommend is that you take into account the standard things like making sure buttons are usable and colours are accessible for everyone, but then there are platforms that you can use, for example we partner with a company called accessiBe where you can install a widget on your site that gives control to the end user so they can dial down the colours or up the font size and it’s easy for them to tailor the website to their own needs.
Are there any quick things that a business could do today to improve their conversion rate?
Give the end user the payment option of their choice, think about having options for various mobile devices such as Apple and Google pay. Mobile friendly payment options is the number one thing that merchants should be focusing on. I still see websites where you have to expand the card number box and get your card out, and try and type in your long 16 digit number on mobile device when you’re in a rush or on the go. It’s crazy!