Note: This article is a guest post by Red Stag Fulfilment.
The percentage of digital shoppers who use their smartphone as the main way they go online and shop online is growing, creating plenty of incentive for you to design a site that works for them. According to Pew, nearly 20% of Americans only use their smartphone to get online, and many other countries have much higher rates of smartphone preference.
We’re not waiting on a market to ask for sites that can work across multiple devices, it’s already here. The question is, if your site can support these screens, how far will it grow? Or, if your site can’t support these screens, how long does it have left?
Capitalise on the market and your audience, reaching them everywhere they choose to be and browse, by building a store that works with all of their screen sizes.
That means you can get the 2am purchase from someone laying in bed using a tablet, commuters buying off Instagram from their phones during the morning and afternoon, and the evening shopping that comes after dinner on the desktop.
There’s plenty of opportunity for sales. Here’s how to not miss out.
Always use standard tools
The first step to ensuring your e-commerce store works on any device your customers choose is to build it with standard tools that are already proven. Reinventing the wheel and building from the ground up is going to be time-consuming, costly, and largely unnecessary.
There are amazing platforms that support your e-commerce needs right away, minimising your work. Standard tools also have large developer bases who are actively working to make sure mobiles, desktops, tablets, and even voice-activated devices like Alexa can work with your site.
There’s a side benefit here worth thinking about too: standard tools and software make it easier for you to run your business. For instance, building with Shopify gives you access to a Shopify Skill on Alexa that allows you to ask the assistant tool for up-to-date inventory counts, performance summaries, and more.
And finally, building with a common platform means you’re going to get a site that’s automatically responsive to multiple screens. This means it allows you to choose what to show to a smartphone and prioritise your sellers, while desktop visitors can easily see a lot more. Responsive design boosts SEO efforts, minimises customer redirects, and means you’re not worrying about multiple sites and versions to control.
Now that we’ve started with the big overarching note, here are a few more specifics that you’ll want to think about as you create your online store that works across multiple devices.
Choose e-commerce templates that meet two criteria
Just because you use a standard platform doesn’t mean you have to look like everyone else. When first creating your site, it’ll typically be easier and more affordable to use one of the many amazing templates available.
Still, you can stand out and enjoy a unique look if you choose a template that has two specific features:
- It offers a mobile-friendly responsive design
- You can customise the template as you need (and comments on it say that customisation is easy)
Your template selection should focus on your customers and their access. By going with a mobile-first element that you can customise, you get the ability to work with their devices and remove roadblocks. Pick the features that give your store what you need — e-commerce, sizing, shipping, and the ability to run your promos — while utilising a style that your customers will recognise.
Ask yourself what’s important to your customers and what do they need. While almost everyone prioritises high-quality imagery, you might also need sizing charts or the ability to see items on different people. Your products might best be explained by video instead of text.
You’re crafting the window of your store, with the homepage allowing people to window shop. So, look for elements that allow you to make scrolling easy with a mouse or a finder, and support all those touch gestures we’re used to on our phones. Smooth navigation, fast loading, and simple search are all important aspects of any online store.
When templates natively and specifically support mobile gestures and multiple screen sizes, you get something customers can enjoy without adding a lot of programming work on your end of things.
With the holidays coming up, it’s also worth considering if the template you choose supports add-ons and other time-sensitive elements. You want something that makes holiday e-commerce sales easier, especially if you do exclusive events or sales.
Identify the micro-movements customers will make
Now, you’ll want to dive a little deeper into your specific customers and how they’ll interact with your specific store setup.
Track every step they need to make from the moment they see you to the moment they buy. These are usually called micro-moments or micro-movements for the customer’s journey through your sales process.
Be precise and think about how your customer first discovers you and then what steps they take to learn about your products on your site. How do they interact with a page? Do they use an FAQ or other information before adding something to the cart? What details will they need to provide and when?
Your goal is to give them everything they need to know to make a purchase decision on the product pages. This ranges from product price and sizing charts to customer reviews, shipping estimates, and comparison tools. It’s okay to link to some items, such as return policies, that live on other pages as long as you let the customer know that it exists.
Here’s a quick rundown of what the micro-movements in a journey for your customer might be:
- They see an add on social media or in search results and click for a coupon
- They view your landing page and scroll through the featured item’s photos
- A quick click opens up a size chart to see what fits
- The customer then uses your dropdown menu to see if the size and colour they want are available
- They scroll down to the bottom of the page to read reviews
- After reading every review in the first set, they swipe back up and add the product to the cart
- They click on the cart to see how much it will be, and you see a lot of movement over the cart as they try to determine total cost and shipping details
- The user hits checkout and moves through your specific checkout process
There are a lot of small movements in there. You want to make sure that the customer can do everything they are trying to accomplish on your page. When you’ve mastered the steps for helping them make a purchase, then you can use advanced techniques to prevent the loss of a sale. This might be giving someone a coupon if they try to navigate away from the page or using a chatbot to answer questions they have if you notice a lot of movement on a page.
Setup payment methods
The world of payments is becoming increasingly complex because customers are shopping with more devices and payment methods than ever before. Your standard e-commerce software will help you support things like credit cards, but you’ll also want to look into Venmo, PayPal, and other cash-transfer options that are growing.
Do some research to see how your audience pays and what they want to pay with for other services. You might be surprised to see old models standing up and how groups like Millennials are changing their payment preferences.
You’ll at least need a payment gateway option for your site, but there’s plenty to choose from for you. Merchant account-linked gateways usually come from a bank that accepts payments on your behalf and then puts money in your account after processing it. A gateway package is a piece of software that’ll connect your shopping cart directly to card or platform processing networks, which gives you a little more control and a little more risk.
Many platforms also have their own — like Shopify payments — that can let you take payments without hassle from the very first second your store is open.
If you have a retail location or you sometimes set up booths to sell in-person, turn to the systems you’re using there for support. Companies like Square make it easy to accept payments in person and also have guides to using their solutions for Web payment. Much of this has become automated through APIs, so your site will need to integrate with the payment service you choose.
Thankfully, most common payment tools integrate with leading e-commerce platforms. You’ll need to do some research based on your specific template and platform of choice, but you should have plenty of options. It’s also worth noting that you might be able to use all of your tools with a few layers of integrations, such as how many payment services will work with Salesforce’s billing and payment gateway platform, making it easier for B2B sites to monetise more actions.
Link your inventory and shipping options
After your payments are together, it’s time to fully sync your inventory. Typically, your e-commerce software or a warehouse management tool will do much of this heavy lifting for you. Your aim, for our conversation on working across multiple devices, is to make sure your website shows and highlights available products.
After that, you want it to clearly display shipping options to everyone. Cost and shipping can make or break a sale. So, work with your developer to get these as clear as possible and put them on your shopping cart whenever possible.
Once you have the items displayed where customers will see them during those micro-movements, test it. This is one area where you’ll want a full test. Buy from your store before it goes live to ensure that it generates an order for your warehouse. See if the order updates inventory levels in your platform. Walk through each step to ensure you’ve got data moving in the right directions.
Review everything, starting with pictures
Our inventory thoughts lead to the best mantra you’ll ever find for an e-commerce site: test, test, and test again.
Thankfully you’re not starting out in the world where everyone has to build everything from scratch. That caused a whole lot of headaches and usually meant entrepreneurs were spending hours each week just troubleshooting and coding. But just because something is a template doesn’t mean it’ll work perfectly.
Test every type of interaction you can on every type of device that’s available. Learn your audience and prioritise testing on how they’ll reach you.
If you’re new to testing and want to a good place to see how the design of a site looks and feels across devices, focus on your images. We all know that high-quality images drive sales, so you’re spending money to make those products look their best. Test so you know customers are seeing these great photos first, instead of a wall of text or other nonsense.
Build the experience around your photos. Test it based on those photos. Grow from there.
Good luck and happy selling!