12 November 2013 | Team Tamar

mChristmas – how retailers can make the most of mobile

Last week saw us begin our focus on mobile with our mChristmas series. Mobile internet use globally is scheduled to surpass PC browser-based use by the end of this year. And nowhere is this more keenly felt that in the world of ecommerce. John Lewis saw 50% of their traffic on Christmas Day last year coming from mobiles and tablets.

This huge shift in access presents a big worry for many retailers: the lower conversion rate of visits from mobiles compared with desktop or tablet devices. As the proportion of a site’s visitors who arrive using a mobile device increases, overall conversion rate will fall, all other things being equal.

There are two main points to this trend that retailers need to think about. The first requires a shift in thinking about how we use our mobiles. They are not simply a different device on which we make purchases from ecommerce stores. We increasingly use our smartphones in the research phase of a product purchase, even if the final purchase occurs on a tablet, desktop or in store. Purchase decisions are increasingly an iterative process with consumers comparing products and reading reviews on their mobiles first. 71% of smartphone owners research products on their mobile, according to Tradedoubler. Or as the Harvard Business Review succinctly put it, “Consumers no longer go shopping, they always are shopping”.


The other point that requires consideration is the mobile experience itself. Retailers need to maintain a relentless focus on optimizing the tablet and smartphone user experience. And the first priority here is speed. With wildly variable internet connection speeds, it’s vital that page sizes are minimized to keep page load times as fast as possible. We’re increasingly impatient and plenty of studies have shown how page load time impacts abandonment rate and customer satisfaction. So make sure that Santa-hatted logo or other Christmas bauble isn’t done at the expense of page load time.

A mobile optimized experience also needs to focus on touch rather than click as the main visitor interaction. Mobile controls such as swipe, drag, pinch and zoom should all be utilised to improve the browsing experience. But retailers need to test, test and test some more. With so many different devices with different screen sizes (in portrait and landscape) and touch sensitivity, thorough usability testing is even more of a challenge for mobile and tablet than it is for desktop devices.

Some elements of the mobile experience just require a bit of extra thought. Contact phone numbers should obviously be clickable to allow the smartphone user to call with one click to complete the sale. But retailers should also think about the number they display. Whilst an 0800 number may make sense on a desktop site, these can be expensive to call from a mobile, with many networks charging for calls to these ‘free’ numbers. Calls to a standard geographic number or 03 numbers tend to be covered by inclusive minutes packages and are therefore seen as free.

In summary, retailers need really consider every aspect of the mobile experience. There’s a lot of pressure in the run up to Christmas with a fast turnover of site content, offers and promotions. Just make sure it works across all devices.

Team Tamar