E-commerce is booming; in fact, it has been estimated that by 2016 “U.S. consumers will spend $327 billion online.” Key drivers of online retail growth will be led by a dramatic increase in mobile technology usage, and innovative online sales, according to Forrester research.
Therefore, the importance of a well-designed website to a small business cannot be overstated. Today’s customers expect to be able to smoothly make purchases via virtual shopping platforms.
Whilst the majority of businesses recognize the importance of having a great website, many have yet to optimize their sites for visitors using a mobile device. In fact, a recent survey by online marketing company hibu found that a whopping 88% of small and medium enterprises had not optimized their websites for mobile.
This is an oversight that will become increasingly costly, as more and more people expect to be able to make purchases on their smartphones and tablets.
M-Commerce Is Making Headway
Mobile device usage has increased rapidly over the last few years. As smartphone technology falls in price and more and more consumers purchase entry level devices, the number of potential customers visiting retail sites on mobiles is going to increase substantially in the coming years.
Becki Smith, Head of E-commerce for fashion retailer boohoo told us, “Mobile is now an intrinsic part of how our customers make purchasing decisions; browsing via their mobiles for the best product, the best deal. The best way to be on their radar for the information-gathering stage of this decision is to deliver an optimum mobile experience.”
If your site is not mobile-optimized or if you do not understand mobile marketing, potential customers will simply head to a competitor’s superior mobile shopping platform where they will make their purchases instead.
Attracting Mobile Traffic to Your Site
For fashion retailers and other businesses concerned with targeting a young demographic, optimizing retail websites for mobile is particularly important. Eighteen to 24 year olds are big users of mobiles, and it has been estimated that nearly two-thirds access social networks using their devices. This data offers a valuable clue as to how small businesses can effectively drive traffic to their mobile-optimized site.
A recent study by Shopify highlighted the continued importance of Facebook in securing click-through traffic to retail sites. The study found that nearly a quarter of click-through traffic came from Facebook, with Twitter and Pinterest trailing at less than 4% each.
Small businesses should therefore consider taking advantage of the social networking giant’s recent introduction of embedded advertising, where adverts are sandwiched between posts from friends and family in a user’s news feed.
Based on previous activity, Facebook’s ‘EdgeRank’ algorithm determines the most appropriate users to target with your ads – and used in combination with a mobile-optimized site, this can be a powerful way of driving new customers to your online store to make that all-important first purchase.
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Brit Peacock is an entrepreneur and blogger from the UK with a keen interest in fashion. He offers tips on how startups can harness the power of technology to survive and thrive during tough economic times.