Top 5 Mobile Commerce Mistakes to Avoid This Holiday Season

By Mark Simpson, Special to the eTail Blog

You’ve been planning for months for this time of year: the holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but there is still plenty of time left for capitalizing on holiday sales. This year, more than ever, e-tailers have a new audience to appease: the mobile shopper.

Mobile commerce stats have been on the rise for quite some time, but the trick is figuring out what your customers need most from you in their on-the-go lives. And it’s necessary to acknowledge that your mobile technology and strategy is only as good as the behind-the-scenes commerce ecosystem it supports. Your mobile app or site is a conduit between the customer and the product, but its success can be greatly increased or decreased by several non-mobile factors – a fact that is intensely magnified during the holidays (or other high-traffic buying seasons).

Top 5 Mobile Commerce Musts

Mark Simpson

The gravity of factors such as product availability, shipping and delivery times, and seasonality are compounded in the holiday conversion game – online, mobile and offline. So, expect to see an influx of new customers, or previous customers who have switched from site to mobile shopping. And remember, they aren’t shopping for themselves.

All this being said, if you’ve waited to test and optimize your mobile promotions or discount offers until the day before Christmas, you’re too late to really start converting visitors into paying customers. However, there are a few last-minute checks and balances that will ensure the next few weeks bring you the revenue goals that have been dancing in your head. In particular, make sure you haven’t made any of the following five common commerce mistakes (and if you have, fix them quickly!)

Failing to Highlight the Holiday Sales

Hopefully your sites – mobile and web alike – are already all decked in a fun, festive style. And I know you have many sales and products that are being heavily pushed to entice your current and new customers. Is your mobile site doing the same?

For example, holiday retail consumers typically use their handheld devices to compare prices and promotional offers. Make sure within your mobile-friendly site and navigation you are clearly displaying buttons and items that will lead customers to the hot-ticket items for the gift-buying season.

Concealing Shipping and Stock Status

During the last-minute holiday rush, shoppers who are reassured their precious presents arrive in time are more likely to buy – regardless of pricing wars. Take a look on your mobile site and think about how you are displaying this very important holiday shopping information on both product pages and the purchase funnel.

Specifically in a mobile environment, you might be surprised at the impact that font size, location, showing/not showing, and color of stock and shipping status has on website conversion rates. While no single stock/shipping status strategy is correct for all brands, don’t be afraid to test it and make sure your consumers are fully informed to make quick on-the-go purchases.

Forgetting to Integrate Product Reviews

Shopping for others isn’t always easy. And while not all of us are the perfect present pickers, we do prefer to gift items that our friends and loved ones won’t return That’s why when it comes to holiday shopping, product reviews have one of the biggest impacts on customer buying decisions.

When it comes to mobile, the real estate as we know, is much smaller. But failing to give the option of reading product reviews on the mobile site can lead to higher bounce rates than you like. Remember that mobile shopping is a faster, on-the-go decision, so the more information you can give a consumer, the better. Look at your product pages and determine where a mobile-friendly drop down menu or selection can live to house reviews. Even just having an aggregated “rating” or “star” system placed near the product is a green-light indicator of a great product.

One caveat here, though: leave the product reviews for the pre-shopping cart phase. Once your customer has already performed the “Add to Cart.” Don’t distract them with information that isn’t imperative to entering credit card details and hitting a complete button.

Recommending Products Based on Past Purchases

Behavioral targeting and personalization, especially in a very personalized mobile environment, are great ways to increase your up-sell and cross-sell revenues, increase cart sizes, and keep your consumers loyal. And with the holiday rush, you’re already expecting an increase in traffic and purchases, which makes targeting, recommendations and personalization both easier to achieve and a must-have.

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But remember, over the next few weeks people are buying gifts, not shopping for themselves. If your targeting engine is set up to promote products based on their past purchases in the off-season – you are wasting your time. Instead, target based on items they have browsed, clicked or added to their cart or favorites in the past few weeks. If your application or site allows for push messaging or email integration, follow up with messages around those products and/or promotions. And once again, make price comparison and your sale items easy to find and quickly navigable to on the small screen.

Hosting Poorly Designed Error Messaging at the POS

Imagine this: your soon-to-be buyer has his smartphone in one hand, and credit card in the another. He’s precariously typing with his thumbs to enter his card number, expiration date and security code. After hitting the submit button: BOOM, no dice. An error of sorts has occurred: wrong number? Wrong zip code? Invalid code? The real question is, does your mobile shopper even know what happened? Or are they just giving up and you have yet another abandoned mobile cart to add to your analytics report?


My point is, especially on that small screen, testing and error messaging is an important component for any site – mobile or web. Most user-input errors occur during the check-out, registration or form process. So, pay careful attention to the location, design, display and wording of your error messages. If a mobile visitor doesn’t see it or understand it, repeated frustrations will only lead them to exit your site before the most important conversion of all: the sale.

Mark Simpson is the Founder and President of Maxymiser Inc., a global, multivariate testing and behavioral targeting solution known for its Customer Experience Optimization platform, among other solutions.