Even when shopping from home, your customers are more likely than ever to be using mobile. Sales from mobile devices are expected to reach 44% of all ecommerce sales this holiday season.


And if shoppers can’t find you and learn about or buy your products or services on mobile devices, you will lose their potential business. Daniel Rowles, a mobile marketing expert and owner of Target Internet, a digital marketing training company, says businesses have to think about their mobile customer experience to stay competitive today. Here are five tips from Rowles for making sure your website is mobile-commerce ready:


1. Go mobile-first—or rank last

Designing sites for smaller-screened smartphones is harder than for laptops or desktops, but it’s essential for virtually all businesses, Rowles says. That’s because Google now predominantly uses the mobile version of your site when determining how it will rank on search results.


Enter your site’s URL on Google’s mobile-friendly test to see how easily a visitor can use your site on a mobile device and for a report on usability problems such as small fonts or excessive use of PDF-format files.


2. Increase your site’s loading speed

Mobile shoppers don’t like waiting. More than half of mobile website visitors will leave a webpage that takes more than 3 seconds to load, according to Google. That’s why Google makes loading speed a factor in determining search rankings.


Google’s PageSpeed Insights measures speed for any site and generates suggestions to make the page faster. One of the most important, Rowles says, is to make sure that the image files on your site are not too large.


3. Consider your goals

What do you want your customers to be able to do on mobile? Find your store and read some reviews? Schedule an appointment? Or view and buy your products from their device? Keep your goals in mind so you don’t waste time building out unneeded features.


In particular, Rowles warns against trying to sell products online until you’ve thought through the purchase process: “It’s not just about building out the website. Who will fulfill the order, and how will that be done? How will you deal with returns or complaints? If you don’t do it right, you risk negative reviews and an erosion of trust.”


4. Pick your platform

There’s no shortage of tech companies selling ecommerce solutions to small businesses. Rowles likes Shopify, “which allows you to be pretty mobile-optimized right out of the box and requires no coding ability.” Shopify handles card payment and offers extras such as product recommendation engines. You can add Shopify ecommerce features to your existing site or rebuild the site entirely within Shopify.


Rowles’ own site, however, is built on the popular WordPress platform. WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce and Ecwid also offer secure payments and shopping options, and you can start using them for free. WordPress is more customizable and scalable than Shopify, Rowles says, but it’s also more technically challenging. You might have to gain technical skills or hire a developer to ensure your site will be mobile-optimized.


5. Test, test, test

Mobile commerce success is all about usability. Can customers navigate your site or make a purchase if they’re using just one hand? What if they lack Wi-Fi? Can they fill out your forms if they have big fingers or low dexterity? It can be hard to anticipate all the issues yourself; instead, run tests of your site among target customers.


It’s easier than it sounds: a study by Rowles found that 85% of site problems were discovered by just five testers. Rowles suggests asking customers (or potential customers) to perform simple tasks such as purchasing your products or finding your opening hours. Measure how long users take to complete these tasks and ask them to rate its difficulty.


Once your site is mobile-optimized, remember to keep maintaining it and testing its functionality. “You wouldn’t let your store windows break and your floor get cracked, but people do that with online stores all the time,” he says. “You need to see it as an investment in your brand. It’s an ongoing cost, but if you do it right, it will pay dividends.”



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