The ecommerce landscape has changed considerably since the proliferation of smartphones with the industry pushing towards adopting a Mobile-First strategy for ecommerce, which basically means that you should design the user experience of your ecommerce website to cater for smaller screens first and then focus on optimizing it for desktops and laptops.
Why a mobile-first Strategy Matters?
If we look back at industry trends a decade ago, the most important priority for ecommerce businesses at the time, was to have a beautiful and functional web store for the desktop. Since people have now switched to mobile web access, priorities of the ecommerce industry have shifted as well. Today, it is mandatory for a business in the ecommerce space to create and maintain a first class mobile friendly web store. According to the IDC, around 3.2 billion people or 44% of the world’s population will have access to the internet in 2016 and more than 2 billion people will access the web using smart-phones.
- In the United States alone, 25% of mobile web users are mobile-only (i.e. they rarely use a desktop to access the internet).
- Over 70% of Americans own a smart-phone and 94% of them look for local information on their phone. 79% of them are “smart-phone shoppers” and 83% of them rely on their mobile device for making dining decisions/reservations while traveling.
- Mobile Apps have been downloaded 10.9 billion times.
- Mobile device sales are increasing around the globe with over 85% of new handsets able to access the mobile web.
Given these numbers it’s easy to see why ecommerce industry is so actively pursuing a mobile-first approach.
Desktop-first vs. Mobile-first
There is a major advantage is using the mobile-first approach when designing your ecommerce web store, as opposed to the traditional desktop one. In the desktop first approach, your focus is on enhancing the web store experience for the desktop platform, by creating rich content and leveraging technology to create a web store that looks fantastic and visually appealing. Using this approach however, if you have to cater for mobile screens, the difference becomes apparent; the site does not scale well for small screens and end ups with major design flaws such as unreadable text, layout issues, difficulty with navigation, etc. all of which ruin the entire user experience.
If you use a mobile-first approach when designing your web store, you can bypass these problems, since by focusing on smaller screen size(s) from the get-go, you design your web store with a precise content hierarchy that does not display extra or unnecessary information. The result is a web store that is compressed and only displays high priority content. Later on, when you move to optimizing the design for desktops, you don’t have to focus on cutting down any of the content; instead, you get to focus on making progressive enhancements in the design and making it more robust.
Bad User Experience is bad for Business
If your user is facing complications in viewing or using your web store on his mobile device, there is a 40% chance that he will jump to one of your competitors’ websites. A good user experience is therefore vital to your business. By using a mobile-first approach, you can ensure that your customers get the best possible user experience when browsing your site from any platform, whether mobile, desktop or tablet.
Google Advocates a Mobile-first Strategy
Even Google is actively promoting a mobile first strategy for the web. Google announced that going forward, their search algorithm would also incorporate whether the web page/website in question is responsive (mobile friendly), when determining their positions in search rankings. Google search algorithm would “will analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design” when determining its search ranking. The term “mobile-friendly” (as per Google) refers to a website that features readable text without zooming or horizontal scrolling, and the absence of applications that not customary in mobile devices, like Adobe’s flash. Any websites/web stores that are not mobile friendly, would experience a decline in their search rankings, going forward.
NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce Advanced Platform uses the Mobile-first Approach
As you can see, a mobile-first design strategy is the way forward for the ecommerce industry, and must be considered when designing web stores, not only to stay competitive in the ecommerce space but to provide the best possible user experience to visitors.