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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 09, 2013 • Issue 13:12:01

Your merchants need mobile-friendly websites

By Michael Gavin
Merchant Warehouse

Many tablet owners envision browsing online on their devices, finding things they like and buying them while on the go. It seems like a fun, easy, carefree way to shop, but a surprising number of tablet owners never make it through the checkout process.

You're probably wondering what gives, and the answer has been made abundantly clear by a recent survey from TheFind Inc. The shopping search engine found that many retailers completely drop the ball when it comes to creating sites that are optimized for tablets and other mobile devices. Tablet owners don't feel comfortable going through with transactions on such sites, and retailers end up losing out on untold amounts of business. Survey illuminates problems Shopping on a tablet seems like a natural thing to do. After all, who doesn't like the idea of making purchases while on the train, waiting in a doctor's office or doing other things while out and about? The survey confirms that the desire is certainly there. The problem is that many retailers turn a blind eye to the importance of having mobile-optimized websites. And consumers will not find solace in the world of mobile apps, as many such apps also fall short of expectations.

According to TheFind's survey, 40 percent of those who don't use their tablets for shopping said it's because the available sites and apps aren't up to par. A full 49 percent of respondents said lack of optimization was their biggest complaint.

That's not to say that people who own tablets, smartphones and other devices don't shop online; 87 percent of respondents use them to browse, and 71 percent make purchases occasionally. The point that should resonate with your merchant customers is that many people choose not to make purchases due to a lack of mobile optimization.

The survey also revealed that 40 percent of tablet owners are using their devices to make purchases more regularly than they were just a year ago. That trend is sure to continue, and retailers who expend the effort to make fully optimized mobile sites will rake in the benefits. Those that don't will be left out in the cold. Where do you want your customers to be?

Checkouts need improvement

Many retailers do the minimum to create a mobile presence. Thus, they fail to ensure that people can get through checkout with ease. People want to feel secure with the process every step of the way. They can "walk away" at any time, and it looks like many of them do so at checkout.

Indeed, a mobile site or app doesn't just require great product descriptions, snazzy images and a user-friendly interface. It must have an optimized checkout as well, or people will abandon their shopping carts and never return.

Customers want to purchase with tablets

There's no lack of enthusiasm for shopping on tablets. TheFind's survey revealed that two out of three people would prefer to shop with their tablets and mobile devices via shopping apps. Yet there is a dearth of decent shopping apps. Companies that employ them are going to blow away their closest competitors. Thus, your merchant customers can start soaring past their competitors by prioritizing mobile optimization. It really is that simple, and it doesn't have to be expensive or involved.

Merchants can win mobile shoppers

Earning the business of mobile shoppers is straightforward: merchants need to make it easy for them to shop on their websites with mobile devices. The simplest way to achieve this is by leveraging responsive website design, which adapts to render correctly on different types of devices. In other words, one site will look and function just as well on a tablet as it will on a computer or smartphone. This is the most advanced and convenient way to create a functional mobile presence.

But, that's not the only option. Merchants who are happy with their existing websites can also hire professionals to create separate mobile sites for them. Another possibility is to have someone develop a mobile shopping app.

Regardless of the method selected, however, merchants must make sure that the developer optimizes the entire process so that it's user friendly and seamless. Give it several test runs; have others test it out as well. Don't allow the retailer to "go live" until the business owner is sure it's ready for prime time.

Merchants who don't have a solid mobile shopping platform are missing out on all kinds of exciting opportunities. The longer they wait, the more they'll fall behind the competition.

Helping merchants develop a top-notch mobile shopping platform now will bring in new business and provide a leg up on the competition for your merchants – and for you. People want to use mobile devices to shop. Help your merchant customers be there to accommodate them. end of article

As Merchant Warehouse Senior Vice President, Sales, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales, as well as leadership of all sales activities within the company's agent channel. He has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. Merchant Warehouse's Genius Customer Engagement Platform is a single, intuitive platform that integrates every transaction technology, loyalty program and more. Contact Michael at mgavin@merchantwarehouse.com. For more information on the company, visit http://merchantwarehouse.com.

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