For many years, the standard in online Web shop design was to build your site for the desktop PC and make sure different Web browsers rendered the site usable. With a huge upswing in consumer adoption of mobile phones, however, the key ecommerce trend for 2012 is making sure your online store provides a good shopping experience for the more than 82.2 million people in the U.S who use smartphones.
Key Mobile Website Issues to Consider
The big difference between a website viewed on a computer (or laptop) versus a smartphone is the viewing area. Think, for example, how your online store would look when opened in Firefox on something like the HP Pavilion 27-inch widescreen LCD monitor. Then load your Web store on an Apple iPhone 4S with a 3.5-inch display. If your online store isn't optimized for mobile, you won't like what you see. Mobile sites need to be brief and easy to navigate.
Standard websites simply do not display well on a small screen. You also have to consider that on a PC, a person moves through a website with a mouse; on a small device people use a touchscreen to access links. If the display is less than optimal, usability will be nearly non-existent and mobile customers will be less likely to stay to browse or shop.
For the Web shop owners of the world -- no matter how big or how small your online retail operation is, you should be offering a mobile-optimized version of the website to give customers the same experience regardless of the device being used to shop on.
5 Choices for Mobile-Optimized Stores
The good news is that many hosted ecommerce software providers offer mobile versions of online shops with standard ecommerce hosting packages.
While some people in the ecommerce industry debate the merits of having your own site designed versus using a template-like hosted storefront package, when you choose a hosted online store you don't have to worry about the next big computing trend, like mobile-optimization. A good service provider will ensure your online store stays current by optimizing for any computing trend.
Here are five online store and hosting packages with mobile optimization features to consider. Most providers offer a free-trial so you can try the before subscribing.
1. BigCommerce offers affordable online hosted storefronts that let you create your own Web shop and also sell on Facebook and eBay. Other store features include multi-channel retailing, email marketing, SEO and easy upselling. BigCommerce Mobile commerce includes native support for the iPad and all mobile devices including iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Palm Pre devices. Pricing starts at $24.95 per month.
2. Pinnacle Cart lets you set up a complete store and control every aspect of the cart design or choose a pre-defined template to work with. Pinnacle Cart is PA-DSS (Payment Application-Data Security Standard) and PCI compliant and includes a QR code tool, live chat and social commerce. Pinnacle Cart Mobile Commerce is optimized for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. Pricing starts at $30 per month for hosted store packages.
3. ProStores, a popular choice for eBay sellers, lets you design a storefront that fully integrates with eBay and features a number of design, marketing and social services. ProStores currently offers DudaMobile. The mobile site product is currently in beta, which you can join free for 30 days, and then opt-in at the beta subscription price of $9.99 per month. ProStores, which is the ecommerce package geared towards meeting the needs of sole proprietors and small merchants, starts at $29.95 per month (plus a 0.5 percent transaction fee).
4. Shopify online stores boast unlimited Web hosting, a PCI-compliant SSL shopping cart, site templates and everything you need to create a storefront to sell your products. All subscription plans (starting at $29 per month) include built-in mobile commerce features that are compatible with iPhone, Android, Blackberry and other smartphones.
5. Volusion offers a number of features including website templates, social media tools, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, and it's fully PCI-certified. All subscription plans (starting at $19 per month) include Volusion Mobile Commerce, currently optimized for iPhone and Android devices.
Ecommerce-Guide Mobile Commerce Articles
Looking to get a better handle on integrating mobile commerce into your small business ecommerce marketing plan? Try these mobile commerce tips and guides for small business ecommerce sites:
- Top 2012 Ecommerce Trend: Retailers Need to Move to Mobile
- Mobile Commerce: iPad and Tablet Shoppers Buy More
- 5 Tips to Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
- Mobile Commerce Experts Talk Small Business
- What is Mobile Commerce, and Why Should You Care?
Vangie Beal is a seasoned online marketplace seller, frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com and avid online bargain hunter. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.
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