Responsive design for ecommerce: Boxing Day 2013’s mobile sales prove the value

We asked local journalist Pete Wise to investigate the use of mobile devices in e-commerce over Boxing Day 2013. Are buying habits changing, what’s the long term trend and if more consumers are shopping online with mobile devices, what should websites be doing differently?

According to figures released by technology giants IBM, more than a third of all online sales made over November and December 2013 in the UK were completed using mobile devices.

The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark has revealed that we’re teetering on the brink of doing just as much online shopping using smartphones and tablets as we do using laptops and desktops. On Boxing Day a staggering 45.3% of online sales in the UK were made using mobile devices – up 63% on Boxing Day 2012. Perhaps even more strikingly, 58% of all online browsing throughout the day was mobile-based.

There’s no doubt that the Christmas period will invariably see a spike in online sales made using mobile devices, as millions of people around the world unwrap their new smartphones and tablets and try their hand at online shopping, but the figures from the Christmas period 2013 are backed up by a long-term trend. Over the course of 2013, online sales via mobile devices in the UK came to a total of £3bn – doubling the figure for 2012 and accounting for 6% of all retail sales full stop.

For business owners who are only just getting their heads around the idea of having their own website, this is a daunting trend. Websites designed solely for laptop or desktop browsing tend not to work well when accessed using a mobile device, and this is highly off-putting for online shoppers who want to browse or make a purchase using their smartphone or tablet.

The answer to this problem is known as responsive design. This discipline of web design involves the creation of a website that will morph to fit the screen and suit the capabilities of the device used to access it. Where once, websites designed to be viewed using a laptop were shoe-horned onto tiny mobile screens, becoming indecipherable and bug-ridden in the process, responsive design now allows websites to work perfectly across a range of platforms. It’s the difference between putting off up to (and sometimes more than) half of your target audience and offering them the online shopping experience they have come to expect.

Five years ago, businesses faced an ultimatum: React to the changing buying habits of your customers by setting up shop online, or you’re likely to lose custom. In 2014, the goalposts have shifted. It’s not good enough to have a website that looks great on a laptop or desktop-based browser. To realise full market penetration and completely satisfy customer expectations, businesses now require websites that are engineered to be responsive – every inch as perfectly designed for and accessible through a smartphone or tablet as they are for a laptop.

At the current rate of shift in the online buying habits of consumers, Boxing Day 2014 could well be the first holiday which sees over half of all online sales in the UK made using mobile devices. Future-proof your business by ensuring that you have the responsive website to accommodate the change.

Sources

Pete Wise is an award-winning journalist and versatile copywriter with a wealth of experience in the fields of commercial copy-writing, digital publishing, writing for SEO and print publishing.

His working history to date includes the position of Online Editor for One&Other [York], freelance writing for multiple print and digital publications, magazine sub-editing, extensive writing for SEO, website copy-writing and PR work.

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