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3 Optimization Tips for Mobile eCommerce Sites

Redirect process slows page load and turns away customers

Anyone who has waited for a page to load on a smartphone knows how tedious it can be. Slow load times and poor mobile experiences cause smartphone users to give up, sometimes abandoning the site forever. Unfortunately, inconsistencies in how mobile retail sites display their content add unnecessary seconds to the loading process, which translates into lost sales.

In an ongoing study of mobile e-commerce sites, Yottaa found that mobile redirects run rampant among top retailers. The analysis revealed that 39 percent of these e-retail mobile sites redirect users two or more times before loading. The sites with the most number of redirects – four or more – take, on average, 16 seconds to load, a shocking eight seconds longer than sites with no redirects.

This poor experience results in more than just consumer frustration. According to the Aberdeen Group, even just a one-second delay in site response time can reduce conversions by 7 percent. Fortunately for retailers, there are solutions to this problem.

Consider the following three optimization tips for mobile eCommerce sites

1. Create a unique mobile (m.) site and direct only to that on mobile devices. Ideally, a website using an “m.” web address on a mobile device would jump directly from its base URL to the unique mobile version in just one step. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen often, even among the top retail sites. Instead, sites are redirecting users an average of 3.03 times before landing on the right page.

To avoid this, you can implement a m. site. Doing so would ensure you have mobile-optimized content while minimizing the amount of time it takes a user to see relevant content. The less time users wait on redirects, the more likely they are to engage with the content on your site.

2. Test your site on a multitude of devices. What loads on one phone or tablet might fail on another, so testing your site on multiple devices is necessary to identify common errors and device-specific issues. Also consider analyzing your site in different locations, on different mobile browsers and with different degrees of mobile connectivity (e.g., 3G, 4G and LTE). This testing can be done using tools like Website Test,WebPagetest or offerings from Keynote and Compuware.

Beyond these tools, nothing beats testing your site on your own. Take your phone and walk, drive or use public transportation to understand how real users experience your app.

Your end goal should always be to deliver relevant content to your customer as quickly as possible. These tests will help identify problem areas so you prioritize page components and eliminate elements causing loading issues.

To continue delivering a quality retail experience, consider leveraging an optimization firm or designating a certain sector of your IT team to manage mobile site testing. This team can constantly monitor how your site is performing and adapt to new devices and browsers.

3. Shift to responsive design. Responsive design is a trend in web design that has many advantages for retailers trying to offer an omnichannel shopping experience. Responsive design allows retailers to maintain the same website across desktop, mobile and tablet, thus requiring fewer redirects to see a mobile-compatible site.

Responsive design is tricky, however, and should be implemented with caution. Responsive designs tend to consider mobile as a primary form factor, but most responsive implementations are so bulky and complex that they work well on desktops but drag down mobile performance. This happens because responsive designs include the full desktop experience and simply hide content for mobile, resulting in a poor user experience.

If you implement responsive design, keep a mobile-first mentality. Design a grid layout that’s functional and attractive on a mobile device and ensure that the performance follows suit. In the end, users expect desktop and mobile experiences that not only look the same, but perform comparably as well.

Mobile e-commerce is here for the long haul and will only come to encompass more of the retail shopping experience. It’s crucial that you dedicate time and effort to providing the best mobile shopping experience possible for your customers, one that promotes engagement, adapts to the individual user and ultimately increases your conversion rate.

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