How to make your online shop mobile friendly

mobile friendly ecommerce

Published in Website
5 min read

If you’re selling online, and you haven’t thought about making your site or listings useable for shoppers using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, then there’s no question that you’re missing out on sales. As a small online business, the thought of making major changes to your site can seem daunting and time consuming, but the benefits far outweigh the time, effort and money it might cost you.

Whether you use a marketplace or your own website, catering to mobile shoppers is important. It may be less of an issue on marketplaces like eBay and Amazon because the infrastructure for mobile friendly listings is already there, but it’s still something you need to consider when creating listings. Ecommerce platforms like Magento, WooCommerce and Shopify also offer responsive themes or templates, but might still require some work to make them completely mobile friendly. We’ve taken a quick look at the benefits of being mobile friendly, what you need to do if you sell through different ecommerce channels, and your options if you have your own online shop.

Why does your ecommerce site need to be mobile friendly?

There’s no denying the popularity of smartphones and tablets, and more and more people are using them to shop online - over 50% of online sales now happen on mobile devices. If your website appears exactly the same on a desktop and mobile device, the chances are that it’s pretty hard to view on a phone. If your site isn’t properly optimised for mobile viewing, not only will Google penalise you in search results, but customers that do find you are likely to be put off and go to other sites that are mobile friendly.

How can I tell if my website if mobile friendly?

To find out if you’re online shop is mobile friendly you can manually check it by viewing your site on a mobile phone or a tablet. You can also use Google’s mobile-friendly test, which will tell you whether or not Google thinks your website is mobile friendly.

Mobile friendly ecommerce channels

eBay, Amazon and Etsy

All three of these online marketplaces have their own apps for smartphones and tablets as well as mobile sites - so you don’t need to worry about spending a lot of time changing anything. Though you do need to be aware of the differences in how your listings appear on a desktop compared to the mobile site or app.

For example, from July 2016 eBay will create a 250 character summary of your item descriptions for the mobile site and app, or use the full item description if it’s less than 800 characters. You need to adapt your item description with this in mind so that potential buyers on mobile devices will see an accurate and useful description. Find out more about the changes to mobile descriptions here.

Shopify

Shopify offers a number of responsive themes, which means they adjust according to the size of the screen they’re being viewed on. To find out if the Shopify theme you use is responsive then try viewing it on a phone, and if it’s not then consider changing your theme to one of these responsive themes. Shopify also offers a responsive checkout, which you can find out more about here.

Woocommerce

Most themes for Woocommerce will be mobile friendly so you might not need to change anything. If your Woocommerce site isn’t then you can use a plugin that will show a mobile optimised version of your website to shoppers using a mobile device such as WPtouch, alternatively you can switch themes or redesign your website.

How to make your website mobile friendly

If you’re not using one of the ecommerce platforms listed above and don’t have a mobile friendly website then it might be worth considering setting up a Shopify website using a responsive theme. Otherwise, you’ll need to look into redesigning or updating it, if you don’t have the the knowledge or experience to do this then you may have to hire a developer.

If you decide to adapt your current site then you can either create a separate mobile friendly site that mobile viewers are redirected to, or you can have a responsive site that changes according to what it’s being viewed on. A responsive site is better in the long run because you're able to manage and update the website all at once, instead of maintaining a mobile and desktop site separately.

These are a few of the main things you need to consider when redesigning your website for mobile devices:

  • Load times - if your website takes too long to load on a mobile device then potential customers will give up. 
  • Use less videos and animations - customers using a phone or tablet are often using mobile data, so they don't want to see lots of videos that will take a long time to load and use up more data. 
  • Size - make the font size bigger for mobile devices, customers don't want to have to zoom in to read text. 
  • Buttons and links - make sure the buttons to click through to items or to buy are big enough and spaced apart on a small screen. 

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About the author

Verity is a journalist and content producer at Zenstores.

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