Consumers love the convenience of shopping on mobile--until it’s time to check out. Retailers who have prioritized optimizing their mobile experiences--and specifically mobile checkout--have seen mobile commerce conversion rates that make any competitor envious.

That’s why in 2017, we predict e-commerce teams will focus their attention on mobile checkout optimization and instant payment technologies as priority projects to increase mobile ROI.

Following our webinar -- The Future of Mobile Checkout and Instant Payments with our guest speaker Forrester’s Brendan Miller we had a few more questions on how to improve mobile commerce conversion rates and what’s next in retail tech. Below are Brendan's responses.

1. Many retailers seem to have a clearer vision and strategy for desktop e-commerce than mobile commerce. Why are even successful retailers struggling to turn the increase in mobile web traffic into higher revenue and better mobile commerce conversion rates?

There has been a tremendous focus on mobile apps by retailers over the last few years, often at the expense of investments in mobile web UX. Our data shows that only a retailer’s most loyal consumers will download and use its app regularly. Consumers spend their mobile screen time in social media apps, listening to music, and reading news and emails. When it comes to searching for products, they go to the web:

59% of consumers prefer to use mobile webs when researching a product vs. 12% who prefer an app.

For consumers who research product information on their phones, seven in ten use search engines. The mobile search process leads into a retailer’s mobile site, where there has just been less focus and fewer resources allocated. Too often, mobile sites are just smaller versions of the desktop site and don’t account for users’ immediate context. For instance, the mobile checkout flow is the one path every prospect must travel to become a customer, but too often retailers put unnecessary hurdles in place causing prospects to defect. Guilty retailers ask the user to fill out too many form fields, bloat their checkout pages causing load times to suffer, and require the user to type out their card details instead of pay through a digital wallet or autofill their information through the browser.  

2. Focusing on core capabilities, what are the essential elements that a retailer needs for a mobile site? What are the fundamentals that need to be working on a mobile site before adding experimental or advanced features?

The biggest problem users report with mobile browsers is that websites load too slowly. If your mobile websites don't load quickly and function reliably, your users will find another website that does. Beyond performance, retailers make two common mistakes in their mobile sites:

  1. Bad mobile UI that requires the user to pinch and swipe to navigate the page
  2. Cluttering the checkout with unnecessary forms
    Responsive web design or mobile site design tactics can solve issues including content/text being too small, layout, navigation and other UX issues. Retailers should keep the limitations of mobile at the forefront when they design their mobile commerce UX. Be clear about the total cost of the purchase up front, including tax and shipping, to simplify the user’s path to checkout and avoid any last-minute surprises. Your customers want to input data as easily as possible. Utilize Chrome and Safari’s autofill APIs and integrate Google Maps or similar APIs to suggest complete addresses as the user types. Finally, consumers still tell us they are concerned with security when buying on mobile. Utilizing touch ID and offering payment methods like PayPal goes a long way in making them feel more comfortable and helping you increase mobile commerce conversion rates. 

3. You’ve spoken about the important role that mobile checkout plays--what commonalities are shared by the companies doing mobile checkout well?

Every retailer that we’ve seen that does a good job with mobile checkout has what we call a “streamlined path.” Overall, to increase mobile commerce conversion rates, retailers need to simplify the checkout process and remove any unnecessary decision-making by the user. Do not clutter the streamlined path with unnecessary prompts, forms, and questions. Retailers should use autofill, ensure shipping and billing address are the same by default and integrate easy payment option like PayPal or Apple Pay, which is one of the biggest areas of investment for retailers right now. We see great potential in Apple Pay for the web, PayPal One Touch, and similar tools to create that Amazon-like checkout experience. Additionally, Amazon’s patent on one-click buying runs out in 2017, opening the door for competing providers and retailers to mimic Amazon’s frictionless experience.

4. For retailers struggling to maintain profitability of their brick-and-mortar stores, should they double-down to maintain their physical footprint or focus their efforts on raising revenue through digital commerce?

To survive, retailers must fuse brick and mortar with digital. Digital and brick and mortar are not two mutually exclusive strategies. Many retailers are over-stored and there will be attrition in some areas as consumers continue to move a portion of their buying online over the next several years. Retailers that will be successful are doubling-down on digital omnichannel experiences such as buy-online, pick-up-in store, ship from store, and store delivery. These strategies keep the retailers’ stores still at the center of meeting customer demands. We hear time and time again that customers who reserve a product online and pick it up in the store are likely to purchase more items once they’re in the store. Going beyond digital, retailers will need to re-think their product assortments, in-store customer experiences, and customer support models to better meet the changing demands and expectations of customers.

5. Distributed Commerce--giving customers the ability to buy your product directly from unowned properties that are not marketplaces, like social media, search and e-mail--is one of the next possible evolutions of commerce that aligns strongly with consumer behavior.

What should retailers and e-commerce companies do to prepare for distributed commerce?

Unlock your content. Build a microservices foundational architecture approach to supporting your future commerce and digital experiences. In other words, make your content and commerce experiences easily accessible through APIs. Firms like Wayfair and Nordstrom have experimented with social selling on Pinterest, which required them to develop the capability to handle transactions that take place off their sites. Cloud-based, service-oriented architectures that implement commerce solutions in a more modern and modular fashion are now must-haves within commerce suites, and these systems can empower “headless” commerce. Secondly, invest in reporting, analytics, and data-driven decisioning tools that further support merchant control over distributed commerce experiences. 

Additional Resources:

How to Design a Mobile Checkout Flow That Converts

8 Tips for Perfecting Your Mobile Commerce UX

Instant Checkout for Immediate Revenue Growth