Preparing Your Category Pages for the Rise of Mobile Shoppers

According to a Deloitte study, nine out of ten of consumers use mobile devices in the browse and research phase of shopping.

These online shoppers don’t necessarily switch channels to buy. They’re also using their smartphones and other mobile devices to make purchases.

As a case in point, consider last year’s Black Friday:

Black Friday 2017 Mobile Stats

Mobile is an increasingly important touchpoint for consumers, and this trend will only continue. Retailers who put off developing a thoughtful and integrated mobile strategy risk being left behind.

Research from McKinsey’s Jacques Bughin and Nicholas Van Zeebroeck reveals how; those who wait to respond to technological change lose out when early adopters take “half of the annual revenue growth and one-third of the growth in earnings from (them).”

Given both the importance of your category pages for searchers and the increasing role of mobile shopping, retailers who understand how their category pages fit into their mobile strategy and implement the appropriate changes to make them a success gain a tremendous competitive advantage.

 

Creating Category Pages that Perform on Mobile

Mobile screens offer a much smaller space for merchandising.

While your desktop site can easily display two to three rows of three to four slots, a site optimized for mobile will likely only have up to four products visible at any one time.

Marmot’s mobile site (left) versus desktop site (right)

Given this reduction in your visual real estate, your website must be optimized for mobile.

The best CMS solutions (like WordPress) have plugins that will improve your website’s responsive mobile performance, but there are still aspects of your site’s pages that need to be in order for them to function well on mobile. 

First, your pages must load fast. This not only keeps users on the page, but it also enables them to scroll through products quickly.

bounce rate times
Source: Google/SOASTA 2017 Research

Compressing your site’s images reduces loading time.

Correctly sized (i.e. compressed) and appropriately tagged images also increase the likelihood of Google indexing your images.

Given both the changes Google has made in image search and the increasing importance of image search for shopper’s queries, this is critical.

You can manually tag all the images on your site with the right schema.org meta tags, or find a solution that will do this for you. When it comes to reducing image sizes without an automation solution, there are lots of tools to do this. TinyPNG is one.

 

Individualize Your Category Pages

But even if your images load quickly, customers won’t scroll past hundreds of products to find what they’re looking for.

The first reason is that they, like everyone else today, are busy and overwhelmed. The second reason, connected to the first, is a simple psychological truth: the paradox of choice.

In his book (and TED Talk) by that name, Barry Schwartz’s argues that the more choices we have the less likely we are to choose, and even if we do choose we are less likely to be happy with our choice.

This doesn’t mean that retailers shouldn’t be offering customers choices. It means that retailers need to limit the choices by offering the right ones.

Making sure your faceted navigation is optimized for mobile is one way to improve the user’s experience.

Another is individualizing your site.

This is different than segmentation.

While segmentation stereotypes people and places them into boxes, individualization does exactly what its name implies — it treats each customer as the individual they are.

By creating and storing an individual profile for each shopper, individualization solutions understand each shopper’s unique preferences and intent.

With a constantly developing grasp of the brands, sizes, colors, and styles each person prefers, these solutions re-rank the items on your category and other pages, placing the most relevant items at the top.

Individualization is beneficial no matter the device, but it’s crucial for making the most of the limited real estate of mobile.

Most retailers who implement an individualization solution see double-digit increases in average-order sizes and conversion rates.

Improving on-site search
O’Neill’s Results

This makes sense — customers are unique, and treating them as such has huge payoffs.

The best solutions will even offer the option to host your pages while providing user-facing functionality, such as faceted navigation, optimized for mobile screens and interactions.

They also offer the option to make specific sections of each category page unique to each user whether the pages load on desktop or mobile.

 

Connect Mobile Moments Across Touchpoints

“Because people always carry their mobile devices with them, mobile moments are the frontline of customer experience…. While mobile moments are short, they have huge influence on all aspects of customer experience.”

Forrester’s “Mobile Moments Transform Commerce and Service Experiences

Street shopper

Businesses think in terms of customer touchpoints — online, mobile, in-store, social, etc.

But customers don’t.

No matter where they interact with you, from their perspective they’re merely interacting with your brand.

According to Comscore’s “Global Digital Future in Focus: 2018 International Addition,” 88 percent of consumers say that more personalized and connected experiences would increase their likelihood to shop at a retailer.

Eighty-seven percent say this would increase their loyalty to a brand.

It’s no wonder everyone is trying to solve the omnichannel dilemma: the number of channels continues to grow; each one presents unique challenges and opportunities; and, according to the research, the benefits of connecting them are substantial.

The good news is that no one, not even Walmart or Amazon, has solved it yet.

If you’re not trying, though, you’re going to quickly be left behind. But there’s more good news: the right personalization solution can make even small retailers agile market competitors.

Say someone begins a mobile shopping session on your site by looking for a teal dress.

Say that someone’s name is Trish.

By the time Trish abandons her first mobile shopping session, the right personalization solution will have already created an anonymous profile fingerprint for her.

It doesn’t matter that she can’t remember the name of the dress she was considering when she returns to your site on her desktop.

As soon as she uses her desktop to search for teal dresses on your site, your personalization solution goes to work behind the scenes. While retrieving results, it guesses the IP address is Trish’s and places the dress she was considering at the top of the page.

Her search is so pleasurable, Trish makes the decision to purchase the dress then and there.

Women shopping online

Shoppers like Trish probably won’t realize that advanced techniques in machine learning were used to gather data and make the appropriate inferences to connect her journey.

But that doesn’t matter.

All that matters is her experience with your brand was connected, intuitive, and easy.

 

Natural Language Processing and Mobile Search

According to a Stone Temple survey, 60% of searchers use voice search at least some of the time and 20% prefer it.

More and more people are using Seri or Google assistant on when shopping on mobile. Dan Taylor at Search Engine Journal, reports that “roughly 20% of Google mobile searches are performed using voice search.”

And this is where natural language processing (NLP) comes in. 

NLP enables accurate, automated understandings of text and speech, which empowers machines to understand natural human language, like voice queries.

Voice queries tend to be longer than typed ones. This makes sense — it’s much easier to speak than it is to punch little keys on a screen. Sites with NLP are equipped to not only contextualize typed queries but voice queries as well.  

This is important since searchers aren’t thinking about how you’ve categorized your catalog. They’re thinking about what they want.

Solutions with NLP technology bridge the gap between the way you’ve ordered your catalog and the way searcher’s communicate their search intent.

A practical AI example
A voice search for red dresses.

Voice hasn’t saturated the market yet, but it’s set to.

By preparing your site for voice queries now, you’re not only offering an ideal user experience for mobile shoppers today but are preparing for the not-too-distant future when voice commerce will become mainstream.

Dan Olson

Dan Olson is the Director of Content at Reflektion. He’s written research reports, film scripts, booklets for UN leaders, poems for famous performers, and lots of copy for tech companies, marketing firms, and nonprofits. Other than writing, he’s passionate about technology, surfing, books, and beer.