#eCommerce, #Web Development

A Comprehensive Guide on Optimizing Your E-Commerce Store for Cell Phones

January 2, 2021

E-commerce activities have undergone unprecedented growth in the last couple of years. As things stand today, e-commerce contributes over 3.5 trillion dollars to global retail revenue. The interesting bit is the e-commerce marketplace is still far from saturation. The pandemic and the lockdowns that ensued have expedited the growth of the e-commerce market. It has been estimated that in the next three years, e-commerce will make 22% of worldwide retail operations.

Mobile Commerce and E-Commerce

While e-commerce is booming and expanding worldwide, it is experiencing a trend itself, i.e., a rapid increase in mobile users and shoppers. Five years ago, Google announced that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches. The increasing number of cell phone users has also changed the dynamics of e-commerce operations. For instance, the average order value on cell phones has increased by 15% in the recent past. Statistics also suggest that mobile commerce will make 72% of overall e-commerce activity by the next year.

All these numbers are a clear indication of the fact that an e-commerce platform that can lure and cater to mobile users can stay in the game for a long time. If you own an e-commerce store powered by WordPress and WooCommerce, you need to adapt it to changing times to ensure you don’t lose mobile users to competitors.

While developing a mobile responsive website is a prerequisite for survival in the mobile e-commerce landscape, it is not the only requirement. There are many other areas where you need to work to optimize your e-commerce store for your potential consumers shopping on their cell phones.

This post will shed light on all the measures you need to take to optimize your WP e-commerce stores for cell phone traffic.

Ensure Minimum Loading Time for Your E-Commerce Store

Before taking care of anything else, you need to work on the loading speed of your e-commerce store. WordPress intrinsically offers quick page loading; still, an e-commerce store, with all its content, product profiles, and checkout processes, can experience a significant lag. As an owner of an e-commerce store, you need to worry even if your platform takes a couple more seconds to load than a regular website.

Some statistics highlight how a slow loading speed can adversely affect the sales of an e-commerce store.

  • Almost half of the mobile consumers expect an e-commerce website to start loading within 2 seconds.
  • 40% of users abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • Almost 80% of customers don’t buy from the same e-commerce store again if they have had a bad experience with it.
  • Over 50% of shoppers consider good loading speed an integral factor in their consumer loyalty for an e-commerce store.

These statistics show us that many potential sales will be lost if an e-commerce site has long load times. Besides using the traditional ways of improving the speed of a WordPress page, like using a cache plugin and CDNs, you particularly need to take these steps to improve the loading speed of your e-commerce store.

  • Keep your content to the point. Mobile users don’t have time for long-form web copies. You need to convey your messages in headings and captions with simple language. Also, 500-word product descriptions are not going to boost your conversions on cell phones. Therefore, refrain from using them. Go with 2-3 sentence concise descriptors. The overall content reduction on the website will make it quicker to load.
  • Internet speed on cell phones, on average, is slower than desktops and laptops. This means, even a page considered good with its loading speed might take longer than usual on a mobile device. To offset the slow data speed of cell phones, you need to optimize the visual content on your e-commerce website. However, the trick to optimize images is reducing their data size but without sacrificing their quality. If your e-commerce store is powered by WordPress, consider using WPSmush. It will shed the bytes off your site images but without relegating their quality.
  • Avoid using popups on the mobile website of your e-commerce store. They slow down the website and irritate consumers since popup ads are slightly difficult to close on a touchscreen.

In a thriving e-commerce landscape, the loading speed can become a deciding factor for customers who can’t choose between two e-stores offering the same products at the same price points.

Keep the Layout Minimal

The days of extravagant websites with too many colors, animated headers, and floating widgets are long gone. Internet users have entered the age of postmodernism, where they prefer minimal no-frill web layouts over design-heavy websites. By opting for a minimal web design for your e-commerce store, you get to kill two birds with one stone.

On the one hand, a minimal layout with a lesser amount of design elements will keep your site quick to load. On the other hand, it lets you offer what most of your potential customers want: a simplistic easy-on-the-eyes design. Try to implement these elements in your e-commerce store’s layout to keep it simplistic and minimalist.

  • Give the center stage to your products. Instead of using props and models to display your products, use the sole image of the product highlighting all its features.
  • Use a grid-style product catalog where product images are in sync with each other. For instance, an online shoe store must display its products with every shoe shot in the same style. If it a side-view of the left shoe, all products should be sorted in that order. Mobile users prefer this type of product synergy on an e-commerce store.
  • Don’t fiddle with the color palette. Using too many colors on a single page, even if they look stunning, is not a good practice anymore. Try to keep the same color background throughout the scrolling page.
  • Avoid using long official names and specs in the product catalog display. Users who want to know all these details will tap on the product to find them out.

A minimalist webpage highlighting products and products will only ring with most of your millennial and Generation Z customers.

Take Into Account the Thumb Movement

Very few store owners take into account the thumb movement when designing their e-commerce store websites. Cell phone users don’t navigate websites through keyboards and mouses. They slide their thumb and occasionally use fingers on the touchscreen to access, explore an online store, and purchase from it.

Therefore, seasoned web developers making websites for mobile consumers divide a website into a thumb zone. This zoning essentially divides the mobile screen as per the thumb movement comfort of the user. For instance, it is more comfortable for a right-handed person to use the center-right portion of their cell phone screen. Based on these comfort quotients, experts divide a touchscreen into three zones.

  • Natural: The screen region that a thumb can reach with its natural movement.
  • Stretch: The screen region where users need to stretch and extend their thumb to tap and slide.
  • OW: These are the areas that remain inaccessible from a thumb from the hand’s existing position, e.g., corner of the opposite end of the screen.

As the sizes of cell phone screens are getting bigger, the stretch and OW zones are expanding in sizes. As an e-commerce store owner, you need to ensure that all the important action items that lead to conversions (CTA buttons, forms, product selection, etc.) are located in the natural zone. In other words, customize your WP theme and its widgets according to the average size of a cell phone screen (5.5-inch). A simple way to comply with thumb zoning is to keep the majority of action items in the center of the screen.

When you design a website in line with the thumb movement of users, you ensure that they can spend more time on your website without getting frustrated with navigation and scrolling. An extended dwell time of a user on a website increases the chances of their conversion.

Smart Use of Pinch Zoom

Pinch zoom is now considered archaic by mobile web design experts, and rightly so. The entire point of optimizing a website for a mobile phone is users can directly tap on items and navigate web menus without pinch-zooming the website. However, dropping the pinch-zooming feature altogether from a mobile website is also not a good move, especially if you have an e-commerce store. Pinch-zooming is still a great option to give users an in-depth virtual exploration of your product.

For instance, pinch zoom lets users assess the material, design, and seams in more detail while checking out clothing items. Moreover, it helps consumers see all the little surface features of handheld gadgets and other small devices. Therefore, keep the pinch zoom feature on the product image slides and pages on your store’s website because it continues to facilitate clients despite having a tricky mode of action.

Give Customers Reassurance on Secure Mobile Payments

There is a widespread misconception among many online consumers that mobile websites are less secure than desktop websites when it comes to making payments. There is no truth to this presumption for contemporary mobile websites. They are as secure for monetary transactions as any desktop website.

However, you need to devise your security strategy in line with the prevailing consumer perception. You can do these things to ensure that customers can use your mobile website while feeling safe for their confidential financial information.

  • Make sure your mobile contains an SSL certificate. Your hosting service can add that feature to your store’s site. Hosting experts can also make sure that the website’s URL displays the light green padlock that guarantees consumers their passwords and pins remain private when entered on your website.
  • Use the most secure WP payment gateway plugins and highlight their features for users so they can checkout their cart on your online store on their cell phones without any hesitation.
  • Offer customers an option to save their loaded cart for later purchase. This will allow you to facilitate users who are only comfortable using online payments on their desktops and laptops.

As news of data breaches and stolen banking card details pop up every other day, you need to provide trustworthy, secure online payment methods to your customers.

Watch Out for Content Stacking When Picking a Responsive WP Theme

It is another very crucial bit in optimizing e-commerce stores for cell phones that many people just look over. When optimizing their website for mobile devices, they just opt for a responsive WP theme without considering the fact that it will make your online store responsive for both tablets and cell phones.

It is essential to understand that a responsive theme stacks content in different patterns for a tablet and cell phone screen. Tablets have large screens than cell phones and, therefore, they can house more grids on a single layout. These grids reshuffle and change their position when a responsive website adjusts to the mobile screen.

You need to make sure that the responsive theme you choose stacks your most crucial content pieces in the center and above the fold on cell phone screens. You may have to run a trial-and-error exercise to pick a responsive WP theme that does content stacking in line with your requirements.

Final Thoughts

While taking care of all the elements mentioned above, avoid making flash content part of your online store’s website. It only makes the website heavy without adding any value to it. Also, make sure that people can easily access the homepage of your store no matter how deep they are navigating the product catalog.

Incorporating all these changes to optimize your WP-powered online store will bring more sales and conversions. You won’t have to change products and prices because the improved online shopping experience will make your e-commerce website customers’ first choice.

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