Mobile eCommerce Guide: Creating a Conversion Machine

0 min read

Francis Pilon

In a previous post, we examined the state of mobile eCommerce and uncovered that mobile devices now account for more than half of all eCommerce traffic. This week, we'll touch on why they convert at almost half the rate of desktops and dive into increasing mobile eCommerce conversions.

According to a study from Monetate, the average desktop conversion rate is 2.8%, compared to smartphone’s at 0.8%. The disproportionate conversion rates between mobile and desktop can be seen as a huge opportunity for increasing sales from mobile traffic. If you’re wondering where the disconnect is derived from, it’s largely due to the lack of mobile optimized digital experiences online today and current (yet shifting) consumer buying behaviour.

In fact, mobile optimized eCommerce stores are 2.1x more likely to convert than non-mobile optimized ones. Just take a look at the following chart.

We see through examining the various stages of the buyer’s journey towards a purchase, mobile optimized eCommerce stores convert better.

While there’s a multitude of factors that go into creating a mobile optimized online store, once it’s been accomplished the next step is to begin optimizing for conversions. Let’s take a deeper look into achieving both.

Creating a Mobile Optimized Online Store

The first step in achieving a high-converting, optimized mobile experience is to have a responsive website."Responsive" means that the website layout responds to the dimensions of whatever device a customer is using to view it and displays the content accordingly. A well designed and built responsive website will look great on any modern device, browser, and operating system.

Today, where 40% of purchases include using multiple devices prior to conversion, with such high indicators, it’s not hard to understand how having an online presence optimized for mobile devices is a top priority.

Now that searches on mobile have surpassed desktops and search engines favor websites that are mobile-friendly, one of the best ways to attract prospects to your store is to have a responsive website with strong SEO.

Although there are alternatives to responsive design out there, like m-dot websites, it’s a conclusive that responsive design is the clear choice.

Creating a Conversion Optimized Mobile Experience Site Search

Did you know that users who conduct a search on a website are 5 to 6x more likely to convert? This is why site search is so relevant for conversion optimization. While there are a number of factors that come into play with site search, here’s four top areas to focus on:

Make it visible. First and foremost, the search field should be front and centre. Secondly, is should be of accessible size. Let’s look at Amazon and Groupon for some inspiration here:

Allow filtering. Having search filters can make searching significantly more usable for your customers, especially on large catalogues. Potential customers want to see their results fast and with minimum effort. Filters allow them to quickly narrow down the number of search results and focus on what they’re really after. As seen below, asos enables their customers to refine their search by gender, size and style resulting in the quick and easy search they’re after.

Display relevant results. Online shoppers shouldn’t have to scroll through 14 pages of search results that are broadly based around their query. We can make their life easier by autocompleting their queries, providing related product suggestions, including pictures in search results, and even correcting their misspellings.

Guided search. Use your mobile site search as an opportunity to assist the sale. Guide the user through their search query to display more relevant and pertinent results. Provide suggestions, ask prequalifying questions, show related products, etc. Pinterest provides a great visual example of guided search:

Resist the Tempation of the Pop Ups

We’re all in the same boat: We want contact information from our website visitors. The problem is that forcing customers to hand over personal contact information is intrusive and unwanted. Think about the classic used car salesperson scenario: visitors will get annoyed and leave if the salesperson (or website) is being too pushy. It’s best to wait until they’re deeper into your site to do it or once they’ve converted.

If you must do it, offer something valuable to them which would make them more likely to sign up right away. Like "50% off your first order if you sign up now!"

Mobile-Friendly Form Functions

Speaking of registration, form design is critical in getting your customer to engage.

Less is more. Typically, the shorter the form, the less the "friction", the greater the chance of conversion. For example, Hubspot found that through limiting the amount of form fields from desktop to mobile, they decreased their bounce rate by 27% - increasing their chances of mobile conversions. Let’s take a look at the difference between their mobile form and a desktop form for an ebook.

Pre-filled forms. Filling out forms on a mobile device can be taxing. Try easing the pain and limiting the amount of steps by utilizing information that you already know. Take advantage of logged in users, returning customers, and known visitors and automatically input the information for them, making the conversion process that much more simplified.

Shipping and billing information forms are good examples of this: Enable the ability to auto-transfer billing details to shipping details and save your customers valuable time and help combat shopping cart abandonment.

Auto-advance forms. When a user is filling out a form and they’ve finished with one section, automatically advance them to the next section. This will save them one extra click and potential cart abandonment.

Proper form input type. Sometimes it’s the little touches that delight a user and create a positive user experience. When designing your forms, make sure you enable the correct input type for that field. If it’s a name field, use letters. If it’s a number, switch to a numeric keyboard. If it’s a date, bring up a calendar and make it as simple as possible for a user to enter information.

Progressive profiling. Repeat customers shouldn’t have to input the same information purchase after purchase. Repeat customers, shouldn't be asked for the same information over again. Upon her first conversion, ask for her name, and email - displaying only two or three form fields. Next time she returns to convert again, you set up the form to ask for her phone number and address to get more detailed contact information that could improve your future marketing efforts.

Cross-Device Browsing

A typical modern online shopper makes 2-3 different visits from separate devices before making a purchase. They could be browsing on their smartphone at work, then using their tablet at home, and then finalizing the purchase on their laptop.

A great way to keep a user connected across devices is to have a user register and login. Once they’re logged in you can save their shopping cart across devices and sessions. This allows for a fluid and seamless shopping experience across devices.

Easy Click To Call Buttons

Especially relevant for location based stores, mobile users are often very goal oriented and want easy access to contact information. It’s beneficial to add click to call buttons to your mobile website to help users who perhaps get stuck during checkout or want to finalize their order over the phone.

Leverage User Generated Content (UGC)

Using social proof is a great way to boost consumer engagement and conversion. Photos of real customers using your products (A.K.A user generated content) can help boost conversions by 5% and engagement by 30%. Enabling your customers to upload photos, running social contests, and providing an online community for photo sharing is a solid place to start with UGC.

Personalization Based on Geolocation

Location based personalization can be helpful for brands and companies that sell to different geographic locations and climes. This enables you to deliver personalized content to individuals in their respective locations. Think a winter coat for Sally from Saskatchewan browsing your store mid-December or sandals for Craig from California perusing your products online mid-July.

Sticky Call-to-Action Buttons (CTA’s)

Sticky CTA’s are all about making it simple for your visitors to convert at any point along the buyer journey. Include sticky CTA buttons (Add to Cart, Checkout, Buy Now, etc.) on the bottom and/or top of your product, shopping cart, and checkout pages to ensure your visitors have easy access when they want it. Proven effective by Apple on their iPad product pages:

“Customers who bought this also bought...”

You’ve likely seen this before. Modern eCommerce sites often implement this tactic to upsell and cross-sell on their product pages, site search, and shopping carts. Some brands have reported that 35% of their business comes from cross-selling. It introduces customers to more products and can increase your average dollars per transaction.

Guest Checkouts

Permitting guest checkouts is the norm for most cases on mobile devices. That is making it possible for users to purchase your products without signing up for an account. Some users don’t want to have to register to purchase a product, especially if it’s on mobile. That’s just an extra step they don’t have time for. It’s best to keep the distractions and checkout steps to an absolute minimum.

Shipping Transparency

It’s become standard to be upfront about shipping and handling right at the onset of the transaction, even perhaps on the first page load. Surprise shipping costs at the end of the checkout can make or break the sale. Everyone appreciates transparency – and free shipping when feasible.

Site Speed

You have 3 seconds before a user becomes fed up and bounces off your site. Even though sometimes overlooked, site speed and performance can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Some quick math from Kissmetrics uncovered that if an eCommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

Ensuring that your site speed is optimized is imperative for your mobile site. Of mobile users, more than half say they expect their mobile website to load almost as fast to even faster than the experience they get on their desktop browser.

If you’re unsure of where to begin with site speed optimization, run your site through this Google Speed Test to uncover some helpful insights and talk with an experienced tech team or agency to help implement the suggested fixes.


As with anything web, and most things eCommerce, mobile conversion optimization is an ever-evolving landscape. New technology and techniques surface regularly and it’s important to keep on top of them to ensuring you’re delivering the best digital experience for your customers and getting the most out of your eCommerce store.

Image courtesy of Kate Serbin