M-Commerce Tips

You probably knew this already, but a lot of people use smartphones to browse the Internet nowadays. The total number of mobile web users is almost constantly increasing, and if you have a website, you may well have noticed that more and more of your traffic is coming from mobile devices.

We'll use ourselves as an example. In April 2012, less than 5% of Designer Websites' total site traffic came from mobile devices. By April 2015, that number was up to 12%. Our total site traffic for April of this year was 32% mobile, meaning that roughly 1 in 3 people who visited www.designer-websites.co.uk this April did so using a mobile device such as a smartphone.

Mobile Usage Graph

Bear in mind that our website is primarily targeted at business owners, most of whom are probably sitting at their desks when they discover us; the spike in mobile use becomes even more pronounced when you look at a more consumer-focused website. Here's what that graph looks like when we take the data from www.gadgetinspector.co.uk, an ecommerce (shopping) website that specialises in gadgets and gifts:

Gadget Inspector - Mobile Usage
Thanks to the Gadget Inspector team for giving us permission to share this data.

Make no bones about it: mobile users are a segment of the market that you can't afford to ignore, especially if you have an ecommerce website. According to pymnts.com, over 18 million consumers in the UK alone are estimated to shop using a mobile device on a regular basis (that's 6 times the entire population of Wales!) and this is an audience whose commerce you may be missing out on if your website isn't offering mobile users a good online experience.

So how can I capitalise on the mobile revolution?

If you're ready to enter the m-commerce market and meet the needs of those 18 million mobile shoppers, there are a few important things you'll want to focus on. Here are our recommendations for ecommerce site owners who want to encourage mobile users to buy from them:

Get a responsive website.

The first and most crucial consideration for any budding m-commerce giant is developing a website that looks good and functions well on mobile devices. There are several different ways to approach this challenge, but we recommend using responsive web design techniques to ensure that your site can adapt smoothly to any screen size. A well-made responsive website will deliver a superb user experience across all devices, from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets, and it will save you from having to redirect mobile users to a mobile version of your site (e.g. m.example.com) that's separate from - and potentially inconsistent with - the site you're showing desktop users.

Creating an app specifically for mobile users may be a viable alternative to creating a responsive website, but while many businesses choose to explore the app option, this tactic does come with a number of drawbacks. For one thing, forcing mobile users to download an app may put some of them off, as downloading an app (even if it's free of charge) constitutes an extra commitment to your business that many consumers may not be willing to make. It makes sense for an ecommerce Goliath like Amazon to offer an app, as they have many committed customers who will enjoy having that extra convenience, but if your primary goal here is to entice new customers to your business then you're better off letting them discover and access your services via their phones' web browsers instead.

It's also worth noting that, according to searchenginewatch.com, mobile users make more purchases via browsers than via apps anyway. For these and other reasons, we would always recommend creating a responsive website for your business instead of targeting mobile customers with an app, at least in the first instance. The time to start thinking about apps is when you've already got a large base of customers who use their phones to access your business - at that point, perhaps they'll be happy to make that extra commitment in exchange for the added ease of an app.

Keep loading times to a bare minimum.

Nobody likes waiting an eternity for a webpage to load, but long loading times are particularly toxic when your users are on the go. Smartphone users want their content right away, and if you take too long to deliver it, a sizeable chunk of your traffic will bounce back to the search results and end up on a competitor's website instead. This infographic from KISSmetrics contains lots of interesting stats about load times and how they affect user engagement, but perhaps the most compelling titbit is this one:

"A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. If your ecommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year."

Every second counts in the world of m-commerce, so make use of tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights to ensure that nothing is slowing your website down.

Make the payment process as simple as possible.

Once the user has finished browsing your website and filling their basket with all of your amazing products, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to complete the checkout process and finalise their order. Remember, convenience is key in the mobile market, and just as people won't want to wait ages for your site to finish loading, they might not have the time or the patience to register for an account and fill out loads of little boxes in order to finalise what may have been a spur-of-the-moment purchase in the first place.

So how can you make the last part of the purchasing process quick and painless for your site's users? The key here is payment integration; for example, many people have PayPal accounts, so if you can offer PayPal as one of your payment options you'll potentially save a lot of customers a lot of hassle.

If you allow (or indeed force) users to create an account with your business when they place an order, you may want to review that system before you attempt to conquer the mobile market. The idea with this sort of thing is usually to make life easier for repeat customers; by creating an account, these people are saved from having to enter their payment and delivery details anew each time they buy from you. Registering for an account is inconvenient in the short term because you have to fill out even more boxes, but it's more convenient in the long term because it means that future orders can be completed by simply entering a set of login details.

But here's the thing: the majority of mobile users probably aren't interested in that long-term convenience. They're not planning ahead, thinking of the precious seconds they'll save later if they take the time to register now - they just want to finish what they're doing as quickly as possible and get back to scrolling through Twitter. With this in mind, you may decide that it's better to scrap the 'Create an Account' step altogether, or at least offer an 'Express Checkout' option for users who aren't interested in registering.

HenStuff Checkout Page

Here's an example from the checkout page of www.henstuff.co.uk, an ecommerce website specialising in hen night accessories and party supplies. Registered users simply enter their login details; new customers can either create a new account ('Register Now') or checkout without creating an account ('Express Checkout').

Review and improve!

Websites are often very different  when it comes to how users interact with them, and so it's unlikely that you'll nail the mobile shopping experience right away. That's OK, though - you just need to keep an eye on how people are interacting with your website and make ongoing improvements as necessary. Tools like Google Analytics are great for reviewing mobile use of your website and identifying areas that need work; for example, if a particular landing page has an abnormally high bounce rate on mobile devices specifically, you may want to reassess that page's design and alter it to ensure that your mobile users are getting the same great experience as your desktop visitors.

Need some help with your m-commerce efforts? The Designer Websites team are here to help! Here are some of the services we can provide:
PalleTrucks-Trolleys
 
PalleTrucks-Trolleys.com is a brand new ecommerce website that sells a wide range of materials handling products, including site trolleys, pallet trucks, material lifts and more. The site was designed and developed by the Designer Websites team, and it went live yesterday - please click here to view it.
 
This project came about because one of our existing clients (a company that offers a huge variety of different products, including heavy lifting equipment, height safety gear and PPE) wanted a separate website that specifically centred on their range of materials handling equipment. The primary purpose of this new website would be to target a broad array of search terms related to pallet trucks, site trolleys, and so forth; while these product ranges are represented on the company's main website, we agreed that a new site with a more concentrated keyword focus would have a much better chance of conquering Google's SERPs.
 
Our SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts performed extensive keyword research to ensure that every page of the PalleTrucks-Trolleys website was targeting the best possible search terms in the proper manner. PalleTrucks-Trolleys.com is a responsive website, meaning that it looks great and functions smoothly on screens of all sizes; this is another important consideration when it comes to search engine optimisation!
 
Visit PalleTrucks-Trolleys.com to see the results of our hard work, or click here to request a quotation for your own ecommerce website.

4 ecommerce optimisation tips for online retailers

 
Ecommerce optimisation
 
Ecommerce websites are typically a lot more complex than brochure websites. For one thing, ecommerce websites require some kind of online payment system, but there's also the issue of sheer size - by dedicating an entire page to each and every product you sell, you're potentially saddling yourself with a website that's hundreds or even thousands of pages deep.
 
And, as you can imagine, organising and optimising that many pages can be a mammoth headache. Fortunately, our website optimisation experts are here to share a few tips and suggestions that will help you to both climb the Google rankings and do a better job of satisfying your customers. If you're serious about optimising your ecommerce website, here are some things to bear in mind:

Every page should have its own unique title tag.

Google's guidelines demand "distinct, descriptive titles for each page on your site", and this includes the many product pages that form the bulk of your ecommerce website. The page title tag is an extremely important ranking factor for search engines, and since you ideally want all of your product pages to rank highly for relevant search terms, it's a good idea to come up with a different title tag for each and every one.
 
Let's say, for example, that your company sells decorative lampshades. Your lampshades come in dozens of different colours and designs, so it doesn't make sense to use a generic title tag like Buy Cheap Lampshades for Your Home on every single product page. A better approach is to craft title tags that give a more detailed description of each individual product; for example:
  • Dark Blue Lampshade | Buy from Spiffing Shades
  • Bright Red Pendant Lampshade from Spiffing Shades
  • Black & White Lampshade for Floor Lamps
  • Gingham Lampshade | Order Online with Spiffing Shades
These page titles tell search engines (and the people who use them) a lot more about each of your products, and this will make it easier for Google et al to index your product range and list your pages on relevant SERPs. Each title tag should also be accompanied with a unique meta description that offers a little more information about each product. For instance, here's what the description for that dark blue lampshade might look like:
 
This dark blue lampshade is handmade by the experts at Spiffing Shades, and includes a dual purpose fitting that's compatible with ES and BC lamps.

 

The recommended maximum length for a title tag is just 55 characters, so the meta description is a good way to go into greater detail about the page you're optimising.

Avoid duplicate content.

You might think that, once each of your product pages has its own unique title tag and meta description, you don't have to worry too much about what's actually on the page. Unfortunately, if you're serious about conquering your competition in the Google rankings, you'll need to write unique copy for each of your product pages as well.
 
This task can be particularly tedious if a lot of your products are very similar to one another, but it still has to be done. If Spiffing Shades sell a hexagonal lampshade in five different colours (red, blue, white, yellow and black), the company's copywriter will need to write five different descriptions to give each product page the best chance of ranking. Of course, Spiffing Shades could simply choose to list the hexagonal lampshade as a single product, with customers selecting their preferred colour via a drop-down list; this would mean less work for their copywriter, but that single product page would struggle to rank for colour-specific terms like 'hexagonal red lampshade' or 'black lampshade hexagon shape'.
 
So why can't the Spiffing Shades team just create five different pages and re-use the same product description on all of them? Because search engines don't handle duplicate content well. Each of those hexagonal lampshade pages will look practically identical to Google's bots if the same text is used on each one (and no, changing 'red' to 'blue' won't make a difference!)
 
If Google finds multiple pages that all look alike, it will usually only index one, which means that all the other similar pages cannot possibly appear in search engine results. Too many identical pages may even result in an outright Google penalty that affects your entire website - is it really worth taking that risk just to save a little time on writing product descriptions?

Put your most important products on the homepage.

We at Designer Websites have created a lot of ecommerce websites in our time, and one thing we've noticed on numerous occasions is that product pages seem to rank significantly higher when linked to directly from the homepage.
 
This may be because putting a product on the top page of your website makes it much easier for bots to find, crawl and index; whatever the reason, it seems to work, so if there's a particular product that you'd like to see on the first page of Google results, we'd always recommend including that item among the products listed on your homepage.

Put some effort into your images!

Images are an absolutely crucial factor for any ecommerce website - whether you're selling cookers, toys, laptops, or combine harvesters, nobody will be interested unless they can see what they're buying. 
 
But that's not the only reason to make sure you've got high-quality images for each of your product lines. There's also the small matter of Google Images; we've seen websites pull in thousands of visitors every month from image searches alone, so it's well worth getting your pictures done properly. Attractive, eye-catching product images will help you to stand out from all the other image listings (they're also essential for a successful Google Shopping campaign), and adding clear, concise alt tags to each of your images will help them to get closer to the top of the results page.
 
Need more help with your ecommerce website? Get in touch with Designer Websites for a quotation - whether you need some website optimisation or a brand new website design, we'll listen to your requirements and work to achieve the results you want!
Multiple ecommerce websites

It's easy to imagine the benefits of having multiple ecommerce websites - if one ecommerce website can drive a hundred sales a day, then a trio of ecommerce websites should theoretically be able to drive three hundred sales, right?

However, setting up a multi-site ecommerce solution is both expensive and time-consuming, so before you get started, you need to be absolutely sure that it's the right choice for you. Here are a few different ways in which multiple ecommerce websites can benefit a business - do they apply to yours?

1. Target multiple audiences

Some products are suitable for many different audiences. There are lots of disparate groups who might be interested in purchasing drinking accessories, for example; you've got university students, hen parties, stag parties, nightclub/bar owners, and goodness knows who else. This is great news if you specialise in drinking accessories, because it means you've got loads of potential customers to sell to!

However, this can pose a problem when it comes to your ecommerce website. If you're simultaneously trying to market your business to all of the groups listed above (and probably several others besides), you won't look like a particularly appealing choice to any of them - instead, the hen parties will probably go to a website that deals specifically in hen party accessories, the bar owners will go to a trade website for industry professionals, and so forth.

Setting up multiple ecommerce websites is a fantastic way to tackle this problem. If you've got three completely separate websites stocking the same products, this allows you to target three completely separate audiences. You can make one pink and glamorous to appeal to the hen night market; the second can look slick and professional, so as to rope in the nightclub owners; and the third could be used to highlight your biggest discounts, which is sure to please those thirsty students!

Of course, that's not the only benefit to a multi-pronged approach...

2. Compete for different keywords

Search engine bots are a lot like the customers mentioned above: they'll be more interested in your website if it's specifically targeted at the market you're aiming to conquer. For example, that generic drinking accessories website of yours will probably never rank for terms like 'hen party shot glasses' or 'wholesale pint glasses', because these things form only a small part of your overall offering. Unless you're Amazon or someone similarly huge, you'll generally find it very difficult to compete for keywords that are only tangentially related to your business.

You'll find it a lot easier to rank for those keywords if you've got an entire website dedicated to each set; just as the hen party planners of the world are more likely to click on a website that's specifically designed for them, Google are far more likely to show your website to those party planners if you look like a hen party specialist.

3. Focus your product ranges

If you're one of those companies that sells all sorts of different products, squeezing your entire range onto a single website can be a serious headache. If you've got the budget, it may be much easier to spread your stock over several ecommerce websites rather than trying to cram it all into one place.

As a bonus, this will make it much easier to label each website when it comes to marketing yourself. If everything's neatly divided up, you'll be able to say...

"This one's a flooring website, and this one's a wallpaper website, and this one sells furniture!"

...instead of...

"This is a website that sells...um...stuff for decorating your home with."

Fewer product ranges per site equals stronger overall focus, and focus is key if you want to make a big impression on potential customers.

4. Multiply your social media reach

If you have several different ecommerce websites then you also have the ability to create several different brands, and this in turn gives you the scope to set up several different accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and the other big social platforms. The benefits of this are reasonably obvious: you can accrue multiple sets of followers from multiple demographics and interact with them in multiple different ways!

One of the best ways to make the most of having multiple brands on social media is to establish a distinctive voice for each one. For example, if one of your ecommerce websites sells gadgets and techy stuff, you can adopt a 'geeky' persona for that brand, weighing in on the latest tech news and pop culture gossip on Twitter whilst also sharing your own products. Then, if you're selling those same tech products in a slightly more professional capacity (e.g. to businesses) on a second ecommerce website, you can set up another Twitter account for that site and use a more formal tone to speak with your customers in the industry.

5. Make money via an affiliate system

If you want to get really ambitious, there's another fantastic way to profit via multiple ecommerce websites that we haven't yet touched on. We at Designer Websites have helped several clients to set up 'affiliate' systems - this means that we create a white label ecommerce website for that customer, who then sells that website design to clients of their own. Each client (or 'affiliate') can brand and customise their own website in any way they please, but they're all selling the same products, and all of the affiliate sites are built upon the same original code.

Here's the upshot of all this: you can drive more sales for your business by allowing others to market and sell your goods via ecommerce websites of their own. Your affiliates will be happy because they're getting a cut of the money you make, and you'll be happy because your sales are going through the roof and other people are doing all the legwork for you!

If you have a large product range, multiple target audiences, and/or the desire to set up an affiliate marketing system, then a multi-site ecommerce solution may well be a great choice for your business. Click here to get a quote for your project, or visit our Multi-Site Ecommerce page for more information and some examples of our previous work in this area.
New Broadleaf website

Broadleaf are among the UK's leading suppliers of real wood products. While they mainly specialise in wood flooring, they also manufacture wooden doors, worktops, beams and trusses; all of these things can be found in Broadleaf's many showrooms, which are dotted throughout Great Britain, Ireland, and France.

However, no number of bricks-and-mortar locations can ever compete with the reach and accessibility afforded by an ecommerce website, and Broadleaf came to us because they wanted a bespoke ecommerce solution that would allow them to market their gorgeous wooden wares to an even wider audience.

As usual, the Designer Websites team rose to the occasion, creating a stunning, user-friendly website that's almost as beautiful as the products it was designed to showcase. Each site visitor can now browse high-res images of Broadleaf's range, add items to their own personal 'Favourites' list, and even purchase real wood products online via the secure checkout system (powered by Sage Pay).  The website also has a number of additional features, such as a 'Floor Maintenance' section and 'Project Spotlight' blog that allows the Broadleaf team to show off their latest work.

If this sounds good to you, we strongly recommend that you visit www.broadleaftimber.com to see the new website for yourself. Alternatively, click here to get a quote for your own ecommerce website design project.