15/01/2014 06:12 GMT | Updated 16/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Is Your eCommerce Site Mobile and Tablet Optimised?

Etailers everywhere are spending time to make sure site visitors have the best experience possible when browsing their sites. Positive shopping experiences result in more conversions, higher AOV (average order values) and return customers. With much of the focus still placed on desktop sites, many online retailers are missing the opportunity to concentrate on tablet and mobile optimised web sites. For example there will be 30.9 million smartphone users in the country in 2013, eMarketer estimates (May 2013). As shopping on these devices increases in popularity, etailers should consider investing more time and effort to improve their site usability, search and navigation to accommodate this shift.

Sales are Soaring

According to eMarketer, retail sales are expected to increase 68 percent from 2013 - 2017, with mobile commerce sales increasing a whopping 125 percent. Combine both smartphone and tablet, and mCommerce sales are expected to rise 38 percent next year. Looking at these numbers, it's clear that mobile and tablet sites should be regularly looked at and updated along with the desktop version of your site.

Spontaneity leads to more than 80 percent of mobile purchases, and according to Brad Frost's expert opinion, mobile users will do anything and everything desktop users will do, considering ease of use and convenience. More than a quarter of all mobile users will abandon a transaction if a site is not optimised for mobile, with users believing that mobile transactions should be easier than online or in-store transactions. Frost also reports that time spent on mobile devices is expected to overtake time spent on desktops this year which is something I wholeheartedly agree with so what are the brands doing about it?.

Tablets are Making Their Presence Known

Here's some more interesting data from a recent study by Adobe: tablet users are three times more likely to make a purchase over mobile phone users. They also spend 50 percent more than PC/MAC users, which makes this group worth targeting. Initially, smartphones had the lead over tablets in eCommerce sales, but tablets are estimated to account for more sales this year and will continue to rise at a rapid rate.

Make it Easy for your Customers

Mobile sites should be optimised in a way that puts what the user is looking for right in their hands as quickly and painlessly as possible. Mobile site design should not be too busy or crowded; the layout should be simple and products should be merchandised in a way so that they are quick and easy to find. Similarly, checkout should be secure and require minimal effort as users do not want to spend time filling out information on such small screens. Overall, mobile should cater to your target audience.

Tablet approach should be different than mobile. Tablet users are known to spend more time on sites interacting and engaging with content and media. In addition to design and layout changes, online retailers should consider including product videos and any other features that users can interact with, as studies show that tablet users will spend more time playing with these features before making a purchase.

Etailers have just a small window of opportunity to compel the user to make a purchase. Because of this, site search becomes even more important. Your site search bar should always be prominently displayed (no matter which interface the user is viewing your site from) and should contain an auto-complete feature for faster searching. Once your site is all set up, consider letting your users do the merchandising for you with patented advanced search technology, such as SLI Systems' Learning Search for Mobile. Learning Search watches your website's user behaviour, and automatically re-ranks your products based on visitor product clicks. The faster a user can find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to buy it!