MoneySpyder have conducted some research on the state of mobile ecommerce among the biggest sites in the UK.
We looked at the top twenty visited ecommerce sites in the UK and found the common patterns as well as the stand out pieces of functionality that we think will be standard practice within the next 12 months.
Why Best Practice?
You may not be in the top 20 sites in the UK but that doesn’t mean that you can ignore what these sites are doing. These ecommerce sites account for such a high proportion of shopping clicks that users are effectively being trained to shop online by using sites that are bigger than yours.
The surprising thing about reviewing best practices is the level of uniformity among the top players in ecommerce. Everything down to menu and subcategory order is becoming standardised. By not following these rules you are making it just that little bit harder for users to browse through your products.
So, here we go:
How many sites are mobile optimised?
15/20 sites we reviewed were mobile optimised. River Island have a prominent link to their app which is effectively a best practice m-commerce shop, which helps to mitigate their shortcomings. Another surprise absence from the mobile scene is Apple, the inventors of the smartphone.
Is responsive design the best solution for mobile?
Only Currys have a responsive website. 11/20 of the remaining sites have ‘m.’ URLs.
Google have come down firmly on the side of site design – as have MoneySpyder – as it reduces workload and improves mobile SEO. Responsive designs mean that instead of redirecting users to new ‘mobile’ version of their pages, templates simply recognise the browser resolution and change the way designs are presented. This means you only have to keep one website up to date.
Responsive design is a more complex design solution but it is ultimately better for users and business owners. We’re confident that it will become industry standard in the near future. We’ve recently spoken to a number of clients who are moving from ‘m.’ solutions to responsive design.
Mobile Home Page
Are Apps being advertised?
8/20 sites offer links to an app or other mobile specific experiences. This is a great idea. Once you have your app downloaded onto a user’s phone, you become a part of their phone browsing furniture; a big win for user engagement.
An option that’s becoming popular is reminding users that they can add a link to their site directly to their home screen. This is great for companies without an app.
Is store finder prominent on the home page?
9/15 have prominent links to store finders. Optimise your store finder for mobile use.
Many mobile visitors are using mobile to locate shops and opening times. It’s good practice to put a store finder and link to opening times in the header. It’s also a good idea to put your postcode in the header if you only have one location. Many large hotels do this to make it easier for lost tourists to find them.
Is the navigation in the form of ‘stacked categories’?
12/20 sites have the ‘classic’ mobile browsing look with categories stacked on top of each other. This is the basic building block of mobile websites. Easy navigation is the key.
Is the mobile home page optimised with featured products and images
Many of the sites use the area above the navigation to advertise one or more deals or reinforce their brand with scrolling banners. Currys has a big search bar followed by a long page of deals and offers. This is a good approach that gives the user interesting content from page one.
Is email newsletter sign up prominently featured?
3/20 have email signup on the home page.
Only Asos has email signup near the top of their home page (it's just below the fold). This capitalises on the differing ways users interact with mobile sites and desktop sites. It is much easier for a mobile browser to sign up for an email than it is for them to go through the whole checkout on their phones.
Is search the main feature of the home page?
14/20 have their search bar front and centre. Good search functionality allows users to reach the product they’re looking for with the minimum of fuss. The aim should be to funnel as many users through your search as possible, give them lots of results, and then provide them with good filtering options.
How good are the filter options for mobile search?
9/20 offer some kind of filter option from their search results page. Most of these offer a pared down faceted navigation similar to those found on normal category pages. Users have to select filters from drop down menus. When this is done badly, however, it can be unintuitive and frustrating. Very and Tesco both have good examples of search filtering.
Do users have the ability to select different category views?
New Look and Marks & Spencer allow users to change the way they view products. Users can switch between stacked and gridded products. This is great functionality that shows companies adapting to the specific behaviour of mobile users.
Are images mobile optimised?
5/20 offer mobile specific image scrolling. It’s a great idea to allow users to scroll through images by swiping the screen. Especially as the pop-ups or image zooms of many sites are hard to use in mobile screen resolutions. Topshop and Very have good product pages.