Expert Interview with David Fay on Mobile Sites and eCommerce

Understanding what makes an eCommerce site work is trickier than just adding a shopping cart, and the problems just get more intense with mobile. David Fay of Mobify spoke with us about what it takes to build a modern website, while keeping an eye on the future.

What is Mobify, and what does it do for eCommerce sites?

Mobify is a mobile technology company based out of Vancouver, Canada, that helps online retailers create amazing mobile shopping experiences for their customers.

Our technology enables eCommerce companies to adapt their existing desktop website for mobile devices without requiring a full site rebuild or a separate mobile URL (e.g., m.example.com).

Why is mobile and tablet presentation so important in the current market?

Today, more than one in five people in the world (over 60% in the US) owns a smartphone, and they are readily using it for researching and purchasing products online.

These same smartphone owners have come to expect great mobile experiences when they browse the web - nodiv likes pinching and zooming around, waiting for large pages to load, scrolling endlessly, or wrangling with complex navigation. People just want to quickly and easily complete tasks on the device they have in front of them.

When it comes to mobile, providing a great user experience to your customers is the same as providing a great experience when they walk into your shop, speak to a customer service agent, or visit your website from a desktop. Brands that create compelling experiences will be successful, and those who don't keep up with changing customer expectations will fall behind.

What are some common layout issues you see on websites when it comes to mobile?

There are a ton of things eCommerce websites need to do to create a compelling shopping experience for customers.

Navigation is a big part of it. It's important to rethink your navigation structure for customers on mobile devices. This includes providing easy-to-reach search functionality, condensed menus, and filters - all so mobile customers can find the information they're looking for faster.

It's also important to consider how you are merchandising products on mobile devices. Do the images have enough room? Does the content hierarchy of the page still make sense?

And you simply can't forget about the checkout flow. It's one of the highest abandonment points on mobile. At a minimum, you need to break down a lengthy checkout process into sections, reduce the number of form fields, and always let the user know what step they are up to in the process.

Lastly, it's important to go the extra mile and make sure that the entire site is mobile-optimized. If a customer is browsing products on a site, and then visits the account section to update their shipping details - if the section is unoptimized, they're likely to immediately bounce from the site.

What are some of the current challenges for eCommerce sites that they may not realize they face?

While many sites have taken steps to address the design of their website on mobile devices, web performance on mobile is still a critical issue. Mobile customers absolutely hate waiting for sites to load - 57% of them will leave a site if they have to wait longer than three seconds for a page to load.

It's easy to forget how important performance is when you're using a website on the home or office Wi-Fi, but things change dramatically when your ability to use a website becomes dependent of the strength of your connection with a cell tower. eCommerce companies need to take extra steps to ensure that their sites are also high performing for customers on cellular connections.

What would you recommend for somediv starting a site today?

If you're starting a site today, it's important to be aware that the rules have changed over the last couple of years. With 30-50% of your traffic coming from mobile devices from day one, you need to be building for a mobile-first future.

Using responsive design is a really great way to establish the core of your website such that it will function well across all platforms: desktop, tablet and smartphone. You can then take steps to individually optimize the search-browse-buy flow so that it has the maximum impact across each device family. This is where a technology like Mobify really shines.

Where do you see Mobify headed in the future?

We're strongly committed to continue investing research and development into technology that creates compelling mobile shopping experiences. Our guiding principle is that we want to enable companies for create customer-centric, data-driven mobile commerce experiences - and we're building the technology to help them get there.

Want more? Follow David on Twitter.