Why Mobile and E-commerce Search Fails to Deliver | Part 1

Jul 19, 2016

mobile e-commerce

How do you design a user-friendly shopping experience for a screen that is only a few inches wide? There's no easy answer to that question, but one thing that's for sure is that online retailers need to do more than just miniaturize the desktop experience if they want to play and win in the world of mobile commerce.

There are a couple of key areas of frustration for consumers when it comes to shopping on the mobile version of a website—the home page and search functionality. The mobile experience starts with the home page and it's the first moment of truth when it comes to product findability. If your homepage doesn't tell the right story, users won't even bother searching for products on the site.

Mobile Homepages Don't Tell the Right Story

A recent large-scale mobile e-commerce usability study revealed that 70% of the test subjects scrolled up, down, and across nearly the entire homepage to "get an overview of my options." In other words, they're trying to determine the type of site they've landed on and get a feel for the size of the product offering.

According to the study, 42% of mobile e-commerce sites have a home page design that doesn't feature a sufficiently diverse collection of their primary product categories, leading to misconceptions about the breadth of the site's online catalog and site abandonment. Users are unlikely to search for products they don't think a company carries, especially if they are on a mobile device.

The Solution? 

As a rule of thumb, the best practice recommendation is to represent 30-40% of your top-level categories on the home page. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways that range from displaying the entire top-level hierarchy, a visual mix of featured categories, or a mix of visually featured products and categories. The right solution will vary based on the size of the product offering and consumer behavior, so testing is the only way to find the right answer; the key is to feature a diverse, high-contrast product types to expose the breadth of your product offering.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where we'll talk about the ways that mobile site search fails to deliver.