Podcast: From Mobile-First Commerce to Experience-First Commerce

Ecommerce Best Practices | 5 mins

The majority of ecommerce traffic now takes place on mobile devices, but many brand leaders are still working to create truly effective and standout shopping experiences on mobile. To learn more, I sat down with Bread’s own Director of Design, Brian Perez. Brian’s experience in design and UX spans a number of notable brands and agencies, including Knotel, Priceline, and SapientNitro.

Our discussion covered the following topics:

  • Should mobile experiences be exclusively focused on conversion?
  • Should you design your ecommerce site to be mobile-first?
  • How do you start the process of creating or updating your mobile site?
  • Can mobile site design lead to greater creativity?
  • Where can you get more inspiration for mobile commerce site design?
  • What’s the number one thing you should consider for your mobile site?

Let’s dive in and learn a bit more about how ecommerce brands can approach building or improving their mobile experience. You can find a condensed version of our discussion below.

More than half of all ecommerce traffic is on mobile, however mobile also has the highest cart abandonment rates, with 85.65% of all transactions ending without a sale. Should mobile remain more of a place for “window shopping” with customers more likely to check out on desktop, or should ecommerce brands push to make their mobile site a conversion driver?

While mobile traffic has grown considerably, and abandonment rates are still a big issue for mobile sites, mobile is starting to eat up more of the checkouts when compared to desktop traffic.

A recent study found that by 2021, mobile commerce sales are expected to make up 54% of all ecommerce sales, so mobile is certainly a growth area. However, ecommerce retailers shouldn’t just look at mobile vs desktop or desktop over mobile, but at how these platforms can play well together, especially depending on your vertical.

For certain verticals, it just takes customers longer to checkout. Customers may be checking in, doing research, comparing rates—but each time they leave your site, you may be recording that as an abandonment, and not as a part of a larger journey. Instead, track individual users and see if you can spot any trends. Maybe they return to your site multiple times, and normally check out on the fourth or fifth visit.

Should you design your site to be mobile-first?

There is a great opportunity for online merchants to really improve their conversion rates on mobile. A lot of brands are still looking at their site from a desktop-centric view. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily take a mobile-first view. Instead, it can be more effective to be completely device agnostic. Start thinking on how you’re going to build this experience and provide the same experience wherever they use your site. Holistically create a great experience, and optimize for every form factor. If you don’t, you’re going to lose customers at one of your platforms along the way—and right now, for many retailers, that’s mobile.

More specifically, it’s not about taking your desktop experience and translating it to mobile, but rather focus on the most relevant information to provide to our customers so that they can still make an informed decision when on a mobile device. And conversely, if you feel you need to cut out content to better fit your mobile experience, and that experience still drives the same amount of conversions as your desktop site, then that may mean your desktop site actually had too much content all along.

If you are looking to create or optimize a mobile site for your brand, where should you start?

Some of the most important things to optimize for mobile is to really simplify your site and its navigation. Make it really easy for your customer to orient where they are in the funnel, how to navigate to the next step of the funnel, and be able to go back to a previous step in the funnel if need be.

Being able to move between steps in the customer journey is supremely important on mobile. Because there is a lot of searching and shopping across form factors, letting customers resume their experience on mobile devices without losing the information they’ve inputted if they started on desktop is essential.

Lastly, clear, direct, and visible calls to action where customers can visibly move on to the next step is so important on mobile. Because your screen space is limited, this prevents your user from having to scroll all the way to the bottom of the experience to proceed to the next step.

How should merchants be looking to other sites for mobile design inspiration?

You should always be looking for inspiration wherever you can, but take your findings with a grain of salt. You can look at what your competitors are doing, but the experience on their site might be something they’re A/B testing. When you go back a month later, it may be changed because that experience didn’t meet their expectations or didn’t improve the metrics they were looking to improve. In other words, you could be copying a failed experiment without even knowing it.

Aesthetics and appearance are also not the only aspects of the experience that you should look to. Take note of how that user experience is built, what works effectively, and what is easy or enjoyable about browsing or checking out. Just because an experience doesn’t inspire you with its appearance, doesn’t mean it’s ineffective at driving conversions.

Is there anything that merchants should universally watch out for and avoid when designing a mobile site?

Definitely legibility. When you see sites that are using a very thin light font on a light background, that’s a brand that’s not paying attention to its design. People need to be able to see and read clearly to easily get the information they need, it’s the bare minimum. When a company is taking a stylistic approach rather than making an experience that works for their customers, it’s a clear indication that the UX maturity of that organization is very low.

To learn more about how mobile commerce is evolving, read our post about the top trends that are accelerating ecommerce here.