Surfing is known as an extreme sport because of the sheer power of the ocean that it harnesses. The raw tidal energy gathered by waves as they surge toward shore is able to propel skilled surfers along at exhilarating speeds, and even raise them to intimidating heights.
But there is always the possibility that surfers could lose control of the power they harness, with dangerous consequences. The source of their success can also be the source of failure.
The growing mobile device market is to an ecommerce company what a gigantic wave is to a surfer – harnessing its power will increase your conversions and revenue, while failing to do so will leave you swamped and floundering as your competitors surge forward into the distance.
The power of the mobile device market lies in its rapid expansion – at least 350 Smartphones and 70 tablets have been brought to market in 2014 already. Given that consumers throughout the world are continuing to use older device models (particularly on Android), this means that the device market is continually growing in bulk, absorbing new devices all the time without losing many existing ones.
The proliferation of browsers and operating systems is also contributing to the growth of the market. As with Smartphones, the frequent release of new browser or OS versions doesn’t mean that consumers completely abandon older ones. For example, as of June 2014, 5.9% of internet users worldwide were still using Internet Explorer 6,7,8 or 9, while 3.9% were using old versions of Firefox.
Why does all this growth provide ecommerce companies with a powerful opportunity for success? Because it’s being accompanied by a massive increase in consumers buying on Smartphones and tablets. In 2014, mobile shopping is expected to account for 17.6% of UK online retail sales (approximately £8bn), which represents a year on year increase of 62%. Sales via tablets are expected to increase by 100% to £3.10bn, while Smartphone sales will grow by 44% to £4.82bn.
If you can ensure that your sites and apps work perfectly on every device used by your customers, you will significantly increase potential sales in what is becoming consumers’ preferred buying channel. In other words, you can ride the mobile device wave to more conversions and higher revenue.
If you don’t do this, however, you risk being overwhelmed by the number of customers that can’t buy from your site and left treading water by your competitors. When a customer finds that they are unable to buy from you on their phone (because of a broken shopping basket, say), not only is that sale lost, but future potential sales, too – 79% of online shoppers who are disappointed with their experience of a site are less likely to buy from that site again.
The mobile device wave is gathering momentum and surging towards ecommerce companies as we speak. Are you going to start paddling now to catch it just at the right point, or wait until it’s too late?
Martin Mudge is technical director at Bugfinders.