What are the key considerations when designing an eCommerce app for mobile shoppers?
Did you know that it has been estimated that by the end of this year, mobile e-shopping will account for $163 billion(!) in worldwide sales? Or that 85% of smartphone users would rather use a mobile app instead of a mobile website? And the most startling stat of all is that even though 33% of mobile sales are made via an app, only 10% of retailers actually offer one!
Taking those stats into consideration, any eCommerce business that is serious about increasing sales and reach, regardless of size, should seriously consider having a mobile app.
Creating a great customer experience for your buyers is critical to your success. So before you dive into building a mobile app, there are certain key guidelines and rules that have been dictated by mobile app users that you really need to know and understand. I've outlined those ten key areas below.
When designing the user interface (UI) of an eCommerce mobile app, there are two important factors you should always keep at the forefront of your mind:
The first is that the screen size of a mobile device is much smaller than a full-size desktop or laptop, so you're limited to how much content you can display on one screen. And the second is that you should design your app so that it's as easy as possible for your customers to use and, most importantly, buy something.
On the home screen of your app, you should focus on having a simple, uncluttered layout that highlights your latest promotions or most popular items alongside a carefully thought-out and easy to find global navigation system and search functionality.
Unlike eCommerce websites, where you will commonly see large mega-menus that lists all categories, sections, and promotions, with the smaller screen size of a mobile app, you are limited to how many items you can effectively display within the global navigation.
To simplify the discovery process for users, you should ensure that your menu is positioned consistently and clearly throughout the app and that your menu list only contains the most important categories/sections.
Each menu item should also be written and easily understood by using just a single word.
Users don't like a long multi-page signup or checkout process, and that goes double for mobile app users. They just have no patience.
Make the process easier by allowing new customers to register using their favored social network and to purchase as a guest.
You should also offer to store user information for any future purchases that would save them from having to repeat the process. As a bonus, use auto-complete for those unavoidable repetitive tasks.
One of the key things you need to do when a user finds a product they want to buy is make sure that they can complete the purchase as quickly as possible. If they have to take too many steps, you will more than likely lose the sale.
On product screens, having an always in view and prominent 'buy now' or 'add to cart' button will help to make the purchasing experience simpler for the customer and will certainly help to improve your sales.
The expectations of mobile app users, especially shoppers, is that mobile app screens load instantly. If they don't, customers will shop elsewhere. It's as simple as that. We all know that that is just not possible as not everybody has access to super-fast broadband.
A simple method to ensure that your app loads as quickly as possible is to limit the number of weighty high-resolution images you use per screen. One will be enough.
As mentioned above, users do not like multi-page signup forms, but if your signup or checkout process does end up being longer than recommended, you should use a progress bar to let your customers know exactly how many more screens they have to endure before the process is finally complete.
Just like in brick and mortar stores, customers like to browse before eventually buying something. On your mobile app you can make the browsing process enjoyable by letting users add products to a 'wishlist' or 'favorites' section and then allow them to revisit their collected lists to give them that extra time they need to decide which item to buy.
Something you should always keep in mind when designing your app is that as smartphones gradually get bigger, the 'thumb-friendly-zone' will greatly decrease.
The most important thing that you can do for your users is make sure that their personal and financial data is safe, even if it's at the risk of blowing your development budget or delaying launch.
Spend that little extra time and money building an app that is as secure as possible, your reputation and business really does depend on it. It doesn't matter if you sell the best products or have the fastest and most intuitive app, if a customer loses faith in your app, they will never return.