With the advent of smartphones the Web was changed forever, yet many online stores still haven’t switched over to a mobile friendly theme. Websites need to be customized to appear in a readable fashion on these smaller handheld screen sizes. Today if your ecommerce site isn’t responsive it means you’re missing out on thousands and thousands of dollars in mobile sales. Switching a site over is a lot more work than just selecting a theme and clicking a button. It can be costly and take time depending on the structure and content of the site and how well the data and products are organized. There are several preliminary steps that you can do to ease the transition to a site that is responsive and mobile friendly.
Decide On The Right Platform
First you need to decide if you want a fully responsive site or a separate mobile site. In general, it is better to have a fully responsive site, but if you have a tight budget a mobile site can be a less costly and faster approach.
If you’re already happy with the ecommerce platform on which your site is built then there shouldn’t be a reason to change. However, if you’ve been on the platform for a while and find that it’s not doing everything that you want it to, then now is the time to do some research. There are many ecommerce platforms available today. None of them are perfect, but that’s where Brand Labs comes in: custom development expertise. However, having a solid foundation for your site is important before doing any major customizations. The following platforms offer secure hosted solutions that are great for mid-market stores:
BigCommerce is a leading platform for mid-sized and enterprise companies. This flexible and cost-effective platform allows businesses to focus on managing their business with ease without worrying about the technology behind the scenes. Be sure to check out their infographic on mobile commerce. Learn more about how we at Brand Labs can help you launch or grow your BigCommerce store on our partner page.
Shopify is a leading cloud-based platform designed to scale for large businesses and help startups get off the ground. Managing multiple sales channels including web, mobile, social, and a brick-and-mortar is second nature with Shopify. Learn about how Brand Labs can help with your Shopify site whether you’re your starting out or at the enterprise level.
Volusion is an all-in-one ecommerce platform with a strong support team. Easily get started with this user-friendly platform in no time. At Brands Labs we are Volusion experts who have worked on hundreds of Volusion sites. We’d love to help your Volusion store grow with our expertise.
Category Structure & Product Organization
If your site is already well organized and it’s easy for customers to find what they’re looking for (see Google Analytics below) then you probably won’t have much to do in this area. However, if you are planning on switching to a different ecommerce platform you will need to make sure your categories and products will transfer seamlessly. Typically, there will need to be some adjustments made in the way products are set up on different platforms and time will need to be taken to do so.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep in mind how visitors will view your site’s navigation on a mobile device. Keeping your navigation to as few clicks as possible to get to where you’re going is the key to mobile sales. You’ll want to make sure your category structure is as streamlined as it can be, because if someone opens your mobile nav and they have to keep scrolling down on their phone to see all the categories they could become overwhelmed and leave.
Check Your Page Code For Inline Styles
What does that mean? Well, if you write your text in an editor, such as Microsoft Word, and then copy and paste it into a page on your site, it may carry along with it embedded styling from the text editor. The bad thing is, you probably don’t even realize it’s happening. If you inspect your page code behind the scenes you will see something like
<span style="color:blue; font-family:Georgia; font-size:24px;">Some Text</>
That means that there is a style on the text that is overriding any styling that is being done through your site theme’s cascading style sheet (CSS). Styling controlled in that way will not look consistent with the rest of the content on the site and may cause issues when the page is viewed on a mobile device. You must manually remove all of those inline styles so that all the text will be properly styled using the theme’s CSS. It can be very time consuming to do this if there is a lot of this type of code throughout the site. To save time and cost, it is recommended that you make sure your site does not use any inline styling for page content before switching over to a responsive theme.
Prepare Your Product Images
This is one area where many ecommerce sites fall short. Great product imagery can boost your sales tremendously. Many online stores will get images direct from the manufacturer’s website. While this is the easy route, it is not always the best. Manufacturers may have great photos of their products taken by a professional photographer available for use by a reseller. However, many will have 200 x 200 pixel photos with poor lighting that were taken with a digital camera on their kitchen table in 2003. Having nice large photographs that are the same size throughout the site and shot on consistent backgrounds will give your site a more polished and professional feel. This instills more trust in the shopper and increases the desire to click that add to cart button. Additionally, smartphone screens (and now many desktop computer screens) are being made with higher and higher resolutions and larger photos will look better on those screens.
If you sell your own products you should consider hiring a professional to photograph them. At the very least, set up a dedicated area with consistent lighting and background and always photograph your products there. Photograph them from all sides and put multiple views of the product on your site. The better people understand what they are going to be buying, the more likely they are to buy it.
If you are a reseller, you should contact the manufacturer and request permission to use their high-quality product images on your site. If they don’t have their own high-quality photos, then you should take some. It is also important not to steal images from a competitor’s website.
Make Sure You Have Google Analytics Installed On Your Site
If you don’t have it already, you should do this now. Like, right now. Brand Labs can help you — just give us a call. Google Analytics will help you learn things about your site and the way people use it that you would otherwise never know. You’ll discover that most of your site traffic is coming from Nebraska, or that they only spend 1.2 seconds on your homepage, or if they leave once they get to the cart page. Analytics is even more important for mobile sites, as it will help you learn how users interact with your pages and navigation and if they are having difficulty purchasing.
Find An Expert To Help You
That’s us! Doing all of the above will help ease the transition from a non-responsive website to a mobile friendly ecommerce powerhouse that will take your business to the next level. However, we know that business owners don’t have a lot of time. Brand Labs can help you decide on the right ecommerce platform for your business, provide SEO content, set up online marketing engagements to drive more traffic to your site, and even help you with your product images.