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Five mistakes to avoid when tailoring an mcommerce site for the holidays

Retailers and brands should be revamping their mobile commerce sites in time for the holidays. But what are the best practices and steps to avoid for a holiday-tailored mcommerce site?

Besides just having to get a mobile commerce site ready for the uplift in traffic that happens around the holidays, retailers and brands need to revamp their sites by placing emphasis on tools such as wish lists and gift guides.

“Ultimately, remember, do a good use case on each section from your PC site that you are including on the mobile site,” said Steve Timpson, president of Siteminis, Atlanta. “Not everything translates well in the mobile space.”

No. 1 – Merchandizing on mobile
The mobile commerce site’s homepage should be packed with product images and should be easily navigated.

Do not just include a brand logo and a bunch of tabs. Some of the hottest holiday products should be displayed prominently on the homepage.

Search functionality should be front and center.

“The important thing for retailers and brands to keep in mind when revamping their mcommerce sites for the holidays is to ensure that all products, promotions and functionalities available on their traditional Web sites are optimized for mobile,” said Nick Taylor, president of Usablenet, New York.

“During this busy time, we need to give customers every avenue available to them to make shopping as easy as possible,” he said.

No. 2 – Personalization is key
American consumers will spend $2.4 billion in purchases using their mobile phones in 2010, up 100 percent from $1.2 billion in 2009, according to ABI Research.

Amazon alone reported more than $1 billion in sales orders using mobile devices utilizing the power of personalization.

Because mobile shopping sites display little content, it is paramount that all offers and products are relevant to each consumer.

Consider every customer who visits a mobile commerce site is an individual with unique preferences and shopping behaviors.

Tailor a homepage based upon browsing behavior.

No. 3 – Link to social media sites
This year shoppers are more reliant than ever on word-of-mouth recommendations.

For example, 71 percent of consumers said reviews from family members or friends influence their decisions about whether to use a specific company, brand or product, according to a 2010 Harris Interactive study.

With deep connections to their social networks, consumers now expect a full-range of social shopping services when making online and mobile purchases.

Make it easy for site users to talk about the products they like.

Adding Facebook Like is one way. Consumers can be browsing on a mobile commerce site, “Like” an item and that product is added to the consumer’s Wall on Facebook for all to see.

No. 4 – Remember the small screen
Robust item screens such as user ratings and descriptions that can be expanded and collapsed with “plus” and “minus” boxes are key for the holidays and beyond, per Mr. Timpson.

Expandable and collapsible screens allow brands and retailers to give consumers more information on a product or service without making the experience on-screen too busy.

“It is also important for brands to distinguish between mobile Web sites and mobile applications,” Mr. Taylor said. “Mobile applications are important in furthering a user’s in-store experience and deepening a customer’s brand loyalty.

“However, if a brand is focused exclusively on building an app before they have optimized their traditional Web site for mobile, they may alienate customers who cannot view the app on their mobile device.”

No. 5 – Pay attention to the checkout process
Make the checkout process as frictionless as possible, per Mr. Timpson.

For example, stored credit card data for easy one-click purchasing has become quite popular amongst mobile consumers.

Best practices from Usablenet
The holidays is a great time for retailers and brands to take advantage of their mobile sites to highlight sales and promotions, and must ensure that customers can purchase these items on their mobile phones.

This can be particularly advantageous for time-sensitive promotions by giving customers accessibility to these items anywhere they are. 

“In addition, all links included in promotional emails should lead users to a mobile-optimized view of the promotion or product when clicked through from a mobile device to ensure the best user experience,” Mr. Taylor said.

Final take
Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor of Mobile Commerce Daily