Mobile websites account for a majority of traffic to retail websites and about 40% of purchasing. Yet many retailers are lagging in serving mobile shoppers. Here are a few key steps that can help a retailer catch up in mobile commerce.

Samir Addamine, chairman and CEO, FollowAnalytics

Samir Addamine, chairman and CEO, FollowAnalytics

The most pressing issue facing retailers at the moment is the question of how to cut through the noise of a crowded marketplace and reach customers. Given that there are so many different ways people can opt to shop, from brick-and-mortar stores to ecommerce to mobile shopping, it’s become increasingly confusing for brands looking to effectively navigate the new ecosystem. On top of that, there are technological concerns to be aware of, as brands struggle to create the ideal interface for consumers not shopping in physical locations.

In 2018, 58 percent of website visits came from a mobile device. Meanwhile, m-commerce revenue accounted for nearly 40 percent of total ecommerce sales, amounting to over $208 billion. While these numbers are impressive, there are still far too many retailers who offer poorly designed, unnecessarily labyrinthine mobile shopping experiences, which in turn is preventing them from truly capitalizing on the m-commerce movement.

In fact, it’s much easier to take a retailer’s website and transform it into a m-commerce system than it might seem. The hardest part requires brands to closely examine every step of the customer journey, and configure the user experience according to how people are most likely to use their phones.

Mobile websites should not try to change how people use the internet on their phones.

For example, people are fairly practiced at using their fingers to swipe, double-tap, and zoom in and out. But, according to research conducted by the Baymard Institute, 40 percent of the 50 top-grossing mobile-commerce sites in the United States “fail to support” those gestures, thus limiting people’s abilities to properly examine products in full.


Make paying on mobile easy

As the study notes, given the relatively small interface of a mobile phone and the limited amount of information that can be shown at any given time, supporting features that make it easier for shoppers to see the details of the products they’re interested in buying is a requisite for any mobile site.

As others have noted, mobile websites should not try to change how people use the internet on their phones. That means understanding how their shopping and browsing habits might differ depending on the platform they are on. As a study from Shopgate points out, “Shoppers do not think in terms of individual channels, and they certainly don’t care if it takes multiple channels to make a single purchase. All they care about, and expect, is for their favorite retailers to be capable of accommodating how they want to complete a purchase.”

To that end, it is important to make the purchasing process itself as seamless as possible. One way to do so would be to support mobile-first payment options, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay, which allow users to complete the purchase without having to spend too much effort typing on a smartphone keyboard. The ecommerce platform Shopify recently allowed brands to add a dynamic checkout button to their product pages, which speeds up the purchasing process by giving shoppers the option to proceed directly with their purchase without having to add the product to their cart.

Mobile app versus mobile website

The other question for brands is whether they should focus all their resources on developing a mobile-friendly retail site, or also invest in a stand-alone mobile app. What they would do well to remember is that, according to ComScore, 57 percent of all digital media usage comes from mobile apps—which makes them an incredibly important touchpoint to have in order to reach potential consumers.

Andrew Lipsman, a principal analyst at eMarketer, notes that the reason retailers opted to focus on mobile web first was because of the importance of search as a starting point for consumers. However, he says, “[Ignoring] mobile apps altogether is in most cases short-sighted, given the wide disparity between mobile app and mobile web usage.”


There are significant benefits to having a native app available to consumers. For one thing, once downloaded, they have a visible presence on users’ home screens, which keeps them top-of-mind. Research has shown that people return to shopping apps three times more often than for mobile websites, which means that a well-executed app can dramatically increase revenue. On top of that, shoppers have the option to save their information to the app, thus expediting the purchasing process in a manner similar to the dynamic checkout button.

Transforming a retailer into a true m-commerce business doesn’t have to be difficult, nor should companies spend millions of dollars on subpar results. By taking the benefits of the desktop experience and customizing it to suit smartphone users, retailers can have themselves an operational m-commerce application while also benefiting from increased engagement.

It’s time for brands to truly put their money where their mouths are, and fully embrace the future of mobile commerce.

FollowAnalytics provides mobile automation, analytics and optimization services to retailers and other companies.