The question in my title just may be the biggest question and the greatest challenge facing you as an ecommerce website owner. No joke, this is one of those issues that is so universal, you are sure to be dealing with it in the near future.
Why Go Mobile?
If you are already set up for mobile ecommerce, then you are ahead of the game—but only by a hair. Many corporations have added mobile-friendly websites, including mobile ecommerce websites. A new player is already entering the game—the tablet. Users who own both a tablet and a mobile phone will naturally prefer the tablet due to its more generous screen size. However, you cannot even leave your home without seeing people on their cell phones. Smartphones are such a huge part of American life that they are nearly ubiquitous.
One thing that is holding back many ecommerce websites from jumping on the mobile bandwagon is the relatively small amount of sales. This year, companies with mobile ecommerce functions will get 2% of their sales from them. That is simply not a high enough number to motivate most of us.
However, you should remember that internet sales started small as well. And, as with internet sales, mobile sales are expected to increase sharply in the future. In fact, they are expected to grow 40 percent per year for the next five years. While this still won’t equal market dominance, it does indicate that many people are ready to embrace their mobile phone as a means of purchasing goods.
Another thing that can be daunting is the complications inherent in designing a smartphone-friendly website. Obviously this is a task that will need to be handed off to a professional, so many ecommerce website owners are waiting to see if the return is worth the investment.
The Mobile Shopper vs. the Mobile Researcher: A Confounding Factor
Another thing to consider is that many mobile phone shoppers may use their phones to research items, but then close the deal at home on their PC. While these sales are not counted officially as mobile sales, they certainly will give companies with mobile ecommerce stores a clear advantage. Even if you get zero sales from your mobile ecommerce website, you may be increasing overall sales simply by having it. If your business does not have a mobile ecommerce site, you may simply drop off the radar of the most savvy and connected shoppers in the history of retail.
The Bottom Line
Even if it always has a relatively small share of the actual dollars, mobile ecommerce is going to change the way ecommerce customers shop. This means it should change the way you run your website as well. It takes time and a small investment of cash to put up mobile friendly pages with ample product information, even if you do not currently enable mobile sales. You can’t afford to miss out on this small but growing customer base.