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Website mobile compatibility - It's a must, not an option

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Written by Kevin Plankey
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Do you have a spoiled relative?

 

Maybe it's a nephew, a niece or a grandchild, but you know who I'm referring to - the girl who cries if she doesn't get a pony for her birthday, or the little boy who throws a tantrum because he couldn't have ice cream before lunch.

 

In many ways, a spoiled relative is a microcosm for what the modern-day consumer has become. The 24/7 shopper expects service at a moments notice, and he or she wants to be able to communicate with business representatives through his or her platform of choice.

 

Consumers also expect to be able to buy anything online, at any time, from any location and - well, you get the point.

 

The latest trend in the age of the 24/7 shopper is that customers want the same functionality when viewing websites on smartphones and tablets as they get on computers. As a result, your mobile strategy will be vital going forward.

 

What's the most important thing to focus on? Probably your website design

The mobile ecommerce market is already a huge business, and it's only expected to explode in the coming years. A recent eMarketer study found that worldwide ecommerce sales grew to nearly $25 billion in 2012, jumping 81 percent compared to 2011. Between 2013 and 2016, mobile sales are projected to grow from 11 percent of the total ecommerce market to 27.2 percent.

 

Smartphones, tablets, apps, mobile email - there's a lot for you to think about when it comes to mobile ecommerce. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is shoppers' desire to have a top-notch end-user experience. They want your site to look pretty, with sophisticated features, while still being extremely easy to use.

 

Simplicity can have its value

Whether you're planning on deploying an app or simply integrating your website for mobile platforms, it's important to place yourself in your customers' shoes.

 

Think about your own mobile shopping experiences: You're dealing with small screens, for instance, and scrolling through pages with your finger rather than a mouse. In addition, you're probably in more of a rush to find certain information - the store's number, hours, product detals, prices - and you might even be physically on-site when you're looking something up.

 

While making your web pages look nice is important, ease of use is an even bigger aspect of the design process. When it comes to vital information and functions, make sure your customers can find what they're looking for without having to scroll through entire pages.

 

There's an app for that

One notion I would like to dispel is the idea that mobile applications are a necessity.

 

Don't get me wrong: Apps are a great tool that have the potential to make consumers' lives a lot easier. But you shouldn't deploy one just for the sake of deploying one. Many companies fall into the trap that they believe they need a consistent mobile presence, but fall short of taking the proper steps to ensure the experience is effective.

 

According to a recent Kontagent survey, nearly two-thirds of companies are planning to launch mobile apps in 2013 - but they haven't even planned out strategies to make their apps effective. Although it's true that quality applications can lead to success with mobile shoppers, less-than-functional apps can actually be counterproductive.

 

And they certainly shouldn't be implemented at the expense of your mobile website. Not everyone will think to download your app first, so making sure you have a functional and interactive site first should be your No. 1 priority.

 

Keys to remember

Applications are great, but they should be a complement to your mobile website, not a separate entity.

 

Make sure your company's site not only looks nice, but is easy for mobile shoppers to use in a time crunch. If you do those things, you have a great chance to tap into the booming mobile ecommerce market.