As ecommerce registered unprecedented rate of growth, globally, recording 25% increase in 2015 alone. Recent research established that within the next 5 years, sales in e-commerce will reach over $3.5 trillion, given that the internet accounted for over 7.3% of all retail sales globally, a figure that will be way over 12.4% by 2019. In 2016 alone, retail sales reached over $22.049 trillion globally, and it is estimated that the total will be more that $27 trillion by 2020. That means that ecommerce will soon attract nearly 4 trillion in sales. It therefore becomes important to consider how people are accessing ecommerce, hoping to capitalize strategically, on the future of retail business. The answer is through mobile devices.
Note that, in 2015, ecommerce transactions conducted over mobile devices was 75% of overall ecommerce in the US alone, where mobile commerce generated $104.05 billion in the same year, compared to $75.03 billion generated in 2014. That is not all, since all seniors and the Boomers generation in the US, exclusively rely on mobile commerce. This underscores, without question, the need not just for an ecommerce site, but also a mobile friendly ecommerce site. The importance of mobile-friendly ecommerce site is among other things, justified by:
- Readily available internet connection on a mobile device
- Widespread usage and availability of mobile devices compared to desktop computers
- Convenience of access and easy transaction over a mobile device
- Faster access to an ecommerce site
- Integration of mobile-friendly social media in modern ecommerce
This article will highlight the five features that are central and fundamental to making mobile friendly website, as the only feasible way of enhancing and transforming ecommerce profitability towards the future.
Mobile-Friendly Features of Contemporary Ecommerce Sites
1. Optimized Speed and Inter-Device Access
Following a critical evaluation and analysis of 149 empirical research studies on mobile friendly e-commerce (M-commerce), Ngai and Gunasekaran (2007) concluded that modern ecommerce websites relied on three components. These components include:
- Being enabled for access on “mobile middleware”
- Facilitating a “wireless network infrastructure” commonly used with mobile devices, and,
- Customized by a “wireless user infrastructure” that is receptive to prompt, responsive and adoptive access via mobile devices (p. 3)
An ecommerce site must now incorporate mobile-friendly applications, where most visitors will access the site from an assortment of wireless mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets, smartphones, and laptops, and the site will aptly adapt to the optimized speed that a mobile device needs over a wireless network. Since most users are therefore using a mobile devise, and sometimes several of them severally, as confirmed by Facebook in a recent study, where most users use several mobile devices simultaneously.
According to the study among 2000 UK and US adults, over 60% often used at least two devices daily, with between 25% and 20% of them using three mobile devices simultaneously, and over 40% starting an online activity on one device only to complete in on another device. As such, one of the critical features of modern ecommerce websites is a platform developed specifically and exclusively for a mobile market, thus faster and effective versatile. Today, an ecommerce site only record the highest profitability if it is both optimized for a speedy wirelesses access ideal for inter-mobile device usage.
2. Intuitive GUI, Prototype, and SEO Framework
According to Yang (2010) following an empirical study, one of the most significant determinants of how US-based consumers used ecommerce options, largely relied on how the sites are designed for “mobile shopping services” (p. 262). This explains why among the key features of modern ecommerce websites besides speed, is an intuitive GUI, such that the site is intuitively and strategically designed to resize and fit automatically to any device used. Further, the site needs a unique grid set whose prototype intuitively responds to a pro-ecommerce grid-based layout of the site. This means that each ecommerce port can uniquely craft the standard grids to creative and unique CSS frameworks that is reflective of the site’s business portfolio.
In a study on consumer-based mobile ecommerce, Mahatanankoon and Lim (2005) explored common “consumer perception of mobile applications,” and found that consumers prefer a site whose design is both creatively and visually appealing, as it is uniquely designed with an easy-to-use and convenient interface, on the mobile devices (p. 347). Finally, every modern ecommerce heavily relies on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to attract traffic and successfully convert most of the traffic to active customers. A good ecommerce site will therefore be anchored on a platform that enables, and even boosts a vibrant SEO framework for users on a mobile device.
3. Potential for Customized Building and Development
As discussed above, modern ecommerce sites are designed on a versatile prototype and grid set. This allows the ecommerce site designers to build and advance a series of unique customized layouts that are both responsive in their grid sets and intuitively defined in their user interface. In other words, because of modern ecommerce website builders, ecommerce sites are no longer rigidly standardized, but they facilitate customized building and development to fit each site’s priorities and unique styles. In agreement with Broeckelmann (2010) when “exploring consumers’ reactions towards innovative mobile services,” modern ecommerce have embraced the potential to be creative and innovative to customize their user interface towards attracting, facilitating, and retaining a profitable customer base.
Further, referring to modern mobile-based ecommerce, Rupp and Smith (2002) uses the phrase a “new revenue machine,” thus justifying and explaining a common feature in modern ecommerce sites, where development is customarily shaped and sized to be competitively unique and creatively distinctive (p. 26). As such, as a feature of the new revenue machines, is the ability to exploit the emerging potential for customized building and development, to be sustainably profitable, and competitively so.
4. Integration of Social Media Platforms and Interactivity
Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of modern ecommerce sites is their link with the social media. The sites not only have regular and creatively embedded advertisement on social media platforms, but they also incorporate social media links on their websites too. The popularity of wireless connections over mobile devices has also made social media equally popular. Perhaps this explains why Facebook recently added a shopping section (which is in a trial phase), hoping to tap into the mega e-commerce trend of modern commerce.
Perhaps responding to what Moertini and Nugroho (2012) the need to resolve “users acceptance criteria,” modern ecommerce marketers have adopted a novel “e-commerce mobile marketing model” where besides being mobile-friendly, their sites are integral to the social media platforms (p. 23). The globe has made social media a part of their daily ‘on-the-go’ diet, and modern ecommerce has no choice but to follow their prospective customers there using mobile-friendly ecommerce strategies. This explains why modern ecommerce sites now frequently send their special offers, sales alerts, time-specific promotions, as well as new products/services to as many social media users as they can, via mobile networking.
5. Competitively Priced Development and Plug-Ins
Finally, for the present article, modern ecommerce sites are characterized with an assortment of free or cheap development modules, alongside even cheaper plug-in installations ideal for mobile-friendly websites. Linking a product and a shopping cart takes only a click, as does linking a sign out button with a user’s banking account to transfer funds, with simple software updates and costless add-ons. In agreement with the conclusions drawn by Ngai and Gunasekaran (2007), research on modern commerce is highlighted by costless applications and add-ons that make mobile shopping easy and convenient for users.
In conclusion, the article has not justified the need for a mobile-friendly ecommerce website, given recent trends, but also highlighted how to make the ecommerce site mobile-friendly. More than a decade ago, Pierce (2002) concluded that ecommerce “cash is just a phone call away” (p. 22). That truth is even more apparent today, where almost everyone seems to be using a mobile device, with a wireless connection to the internet. This means that most potential customers can now be reached via a mobile phone. As such, the profitability of ecommerce will among other factors, largely rely on mobile-friendly ecommerce applications. Towards the future, predictably therefore, all ecommerce sites will be characterized by the foregoing features, even as more features become apparent, courtesy of the infinite potential in development, design, and customization the sites enjoy today.
References & Sources :
Broeckelmann, P. (2010). Exploring Consumers’ Reactions Towards Innovative Mobile Services. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 13 (4): 414 – 429.
Mahatanankoon, P., Wen, H. & Lim, B. (2005). Consumer-Based M-Commerce: Exploring Consumer Perception of Mobile Applications. Computer Standards & Interfaces, 27 (4): 347 – 357.
Moertini, V. S. & Nugroho, C. D. (2012). E-Commerce Mobile Marketing Model Resolving Users Acceptance Criteria. International Journal of Managing Information Technology, 4 (4): 23 – 40.
Ngai, E. W. T., & Gunasekaran, A. (2007). A Review for Mobile Commerce Research and Applications. Decision Support Systems, 43 (1): 3 – 15.
Pierce, J. (2002). Cash is Just a Phone Call Away. The Engineer, 291 (7612): 22– 25.
Rupp, W. T., & Smith, A. D. (2002). Mobile Commerce: New Revenue Machine or Black Hole? Business Horizons, 45 (4): 26 – 29.
Yang, K. (2010). Determinants of US Consumer Mobile Shopping Services Adoption: Implications for Designing Mobile Shopping Services. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 27 (3): 262 – 270.
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