3 stats that prove mobile-first is a must for ecommerce sites

 

We’ve also thrown in a bonus 4th statistic at the end of the article on why you should care. It’s a bit of a kicker.  

So much has changed since November 2019. New work habits have been created (hi Zoom!). Along with work habits, new media consumption habits have been created and so have new shopping habits.

Due to lockdowns, brick and mortar stores had to face the reality of customers never setting a foot in their premises. There was a rush by businesses to establish an online presence.

Throw up a store. Anywhere. By anyone.  

This strategy saw mixed success. Having to compete online against giant retailers (ahem, Amazon), smaller businesses had to bring their best game. That game had to be focused on mobile. It often wasn’t.

Stat Number 1 – Page Views On Mobile

55% of page views come from mobile phones.

More than half the traffic to a business’s online store could be originating from mobile. Of course this changes from industry to industry, but the number is only going to get bigger for everyone.

With over half the traffic coming from mobile, businesses need to ask, did half of their design budget, their coding budget, go towards building their mobile experience? These are not second rate citizens you slap on a responsive design and hope it boosts sales a few percentage points.

On average, this 55% of pageviews will end up being almost 50% of revenues (as will be revealed below). 

If businesses don’t build their online stores mobile-first, they can miss out on those revenues. 

Mobile-first means more than a design that fits into the vertical format of a phone screen. Performance is a huge part of the experience. Due to bandwidth and CPU constraints, an ecommerce store that looks slick and performs well on the desktop can look good on mobile but be too slow to load and too sluggish to use.

Google Pagespeed Insights uses a simulated mid-tier mobile phone on a mobile network to measure site performance. It uses the results when deciding how high up to rank sites in their search results. 

A mobile-first approach takes performance on mobile as well as design into the overall UX process.

Stat Number 2 – The Purchase Process

 

46% of consumers complete their entire purchase process
(from research to payment) on mobile.

This statistic, more than any of the others, points to how important mobile is becoming. It is a snowball effect. More powerful phones with bigger displays have made shopping online via a phone more pleasant. The constant growth of mobile traffic has led to new websites always launching mobile capable (if not mobile-first) in order to capture that traffic. And with websites always growing more enjoyable to use on mobile, mobile traffic is capturing more and more of the purchase funnel.

One of the most important ease–of-use changes is the introduction of one-click payments. Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as payment service providers like Stripe and Adyen, are creating a new class of customers who are comfortable making online purchases on their mobile phone. One-click payment options remove most of the hurdles to completing payments.

Stat Number 3 – Closing the sale

58% of all multi-device purchases use mobile to close the sale.

There are different ways to interpret this big number. It could be that the digital wallet integration in mobile phones makes completing a purchase on that device the easiest option. It could be that people research purchases on a laptop or desktop, but make the final decision and complete the purchase somewhere more comfortable and conducive to decision making.

There’s probably dozens of scenarios that lead to this result. But they all point to the importance of streamlining the purchase process on your website. It probably means integrating more payment options. It definitely means making sure your website works smoothly across a range of handsets.

On a more technical level, making it easy to share a shopping cart between desktop and mobile experiences will help land more multi-device purchases. This can be by having a very simple sign-up process or being able to capture or send QR codes to access the transaction on another device.

The Kicker Stat – Customers are picky

40% of users will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience.

That pretty much says it all. More than half your traffic will come via mobile. You can lose almost half of it, or about 25% of your total potential traffic and revenue, if the mobile experience of your website isn’t good enough.

The biggest problem, the one that sends most people away, is websites loading slowly on mobile. Those beautiful hero images that fill your desktop browser window don’t load as fast on a phone. Maybe they do on your iPhone 13 Pro Max. On wifi. But that’s not going to be your mobile audience. It’s also a symptom of building your website desktop-first instead of mobile-first.

How to build mobile-first to maximise mobile revenues

There are no big secrets. It’s a mix of careful design, strategic coding, and backend resources. The two most popular starting points for our clients’ ecommerce websites are WooCommerce and Shopify. They both provide strong options for delivering a mobile experience to your customers.

Shopify is easy to get up and running, and with a careful design and use of resources can be quite performant. But there are limits to what you can tweak. While the ease-of-use makes getting your business online in a reduced time frame possible, you might find the lack of control of the backend keeps you from maximising your customers’ experience. 

WooCommerce is infinitely tweakable. As it is built on the open source WordPress CMS you are in control of the entire stack including the backend. This gives you many more choices in optimising delivery of your website to mobile. It does require more of an initial investment, but many clients feel the control and the power on tap it provides is worth it.

Taking your online business mobile-first

If your current ecommerce website isn’t mobile-first, it is always possible to make the necessary frontend changes to fix that. Making changes to the backend will depend on how your site is being hosted.

If you are setting out on creating a new ecommerce website, then you are in the perfect position to ensure that mobile-first informs your tech choices, your design choices and your overall strategy.

If you have any questions about how your business can make the move to mobile-first or how you should build for mobile-first, drop us an email and we’ll get in touch for a chat.

Should you build an app or a website?

Should you build an app or a website

The title might strike you as a dumb question. It’s the 2020s. You probably already have a website. But if you’re launching a new product or service or ecommerce play, or you’re finding competition is eating into your revenue, then the question is one you’re already asking yourself. 

This article is going to help you make that decision. It’s going to start with a quick tech review, followed by a short discussion of the trade-offs between the two options, then it will jump into the surprise “have your cake and eat it too” twist.  

Let’s start with the tech.

There are only three types of websites

That’s right. Only 3. We’re talking under the hood, not content. Here they are:

Static

Static websites serve visitors pre-generated pages of content. This is how websites worked when the internet was born. It’s had a resurgence in popularity recently due to its speed and security. This tech is best used for sites that don’t change often – blogs, documentation, and brochureware sites.

Dynamic

Dynamic websites serve visitors pages that include content pulled from a database or generated by code. This is called server-side rendering, as the layout and content is assembled by the server delivering the page. It’s more complicated than that, but we’re keeping things simple. 

If a website isn’t static then it’s dynamic. This includes the millions of WordPress sites in existence along with every other site on the internet. The term “dynamic” is now more of an umbrella term, as there are many different ways to build a dynamic website, and the next type is a recent specialisation of the dynamic website type.

Web App

You might have seen this style referred to by a couple of acronyms: “SPA”. “PWA”. “Web app” is simpler and they all mean a website built to behave like an application. Instead of responding to user interaction by following clicked links to new pages rendered by a web server, web apps pull data off the server and redraw the contents of the current page. This is faster than requesting and loading new pages and creates that “app” feel.

Web apps are more complex than server-side dynamic websites due to the added complexities of marshalling content on and off the page and the richer interactions they tend to implement.

Twitter.com is an example of a web app that features the kind of detailed interface and high level of interactivity that used to be only associated with dedicated apps.

Should you build an app or a website?

If a website looks like an app and acts like an app, is it an app?

No. While you can build a website with an app-level user experience, when it is visited from a handset it will not have the integrations into the handset operating system a native app will enjoy. It will also be lacking the look and feel of a native app, placing it visually in a lower tier.

Performance in some areas will also suffer. The biggest one is smooth scrolling. Despite the power of modern handsets, the complexities of displaying rich content in a browser window is still not as smooth and efficient as within a native app. 

Keeping the killer feature of websites

Websites have one killer feature that apps don’t have – they run everywhere. They run on desktops. They run on phones, no matter who makes them. They can even run on smart TVs. 

When you are deciding between an app and a website you need to understand where your users are and how they are going to interact with you.

It’s a balancing act between audience, features that you need, features that will appeal to the audience, and cost. 

The cost of websites vs apps

A native app with similar functionality to a website is going to cost more than the website. The main reason is simple economics. The number of app developers is much, much smaller than the number of website developers and demand for their services remains strong.

As each of the two major platforms, Android and iOS, have different development environments, releasing your app on both platforms can (roughly) double your costs.

Another cost apps must pay is time. Getting approval for your app from each platform app store takes time, sometimes weeks, with any problems potentially causing long delays. No-one can stop you from launching a website whenever you want.

Each option has its benefits. But you should know there is a strategy that can get you the best of both worlds – the lower cost and lower time to market of a website, and the power and polish of a native app – while spreading out your risk.

Should you build an app or a website?

The app that starts out as a website

This is our favourite strategy for creating a new product or service. It combines the rapid development and deployment of a website, while at the same time it lays the groundwork for the heavy lifting required to create an app.

This strategy is based on React Native. React Native is a spin-off of ReactJS, one of the world’s most popular website frameworks. If you’ve never heard about React Native you might want to read Everything you need to know about React Native apps – the business side

By building a web app using ReactJS it takes much less effort to convert it to a native app using React Native. 

By starting with a web app you can prove the business model of your product or service with a lower investment than going straight to a native app. Once the business model is proven, moving from web app to native app is straightforward. 

How easy it is depends on if you included this path in your strategy. And why wouldn’t you? Your app will use the same backend as your website. Your UX has been tested and proven. If you built your web app on ReactJS it becomes a matter of changing code that would tell a web browser to draw a form to React Native code that displays native form elements on a handset.

And the same React Native code works on Android and iOS. You don’t need a separate team for each platform.

The final answer to the app or website question

So, the final answer to whether you should build an app or a website is you should build the website first. And that website will take you 80-90% of the way towards your app.

When the website shows you have a foothold in the market, it is simply a matter of converting the website into a native app.

If you want to know more about this strategy and how it could work with your business, get in contact with us and we can discuss the details with you.