This article, written by Michael Kriz, was originally published by RISnews.com in May, 2012.
Smartphones and smart shoppers seem increasingly inseparable these days. Whether making price comparisons, finding store locations, checking out reviews or purchasing products, customers across the globe are picking up their phones instead of turning on the computer or driving to the mall.
If you’re an e-retailer with far-reaching goals, there’s no question that mobile is your ticket to the next generation of international shoppers. Here are five tips for making your international mobile sites shopper-friendly across cultures:
1. Adapt your UI for each specific country. User Interface (UI) design can quickly make or break a mobile website, so pay attention to the small details:
- Larger buttons with global-friendly icons make it effortless for shoppers to select items, add them to a shopping cart, and quickly check out.
- Content often lengthens 20% to 50% when translated from English, so adjust text size accordingly to make everything fit. The reverse is true for Mandarin and Arabic, however, where text often needs to be bumped up a few points to be legible.
- Arabic (a bi-directional language like Hebrew) not only takes up less room – it also reads right-to-left. Bidirectional language support ensures that your back arrows and text direction go in a way that makes sense to your customers.
2. Display locale-specific information for each market. What are your mobile customers seeking when they’re on the go in Tokyo, Moscow and Beirut? Display locale-specific options at the top of your mobile retail sites including store locations, contact info, easy site search and local promotions. Local best sellers or sale items are a good start, as are easy-to-navigate product lists that don’t require your customers to load multiple pages. Also, give your customers different options for browsing (i.e. best sellers, featured items, by price) and allow them to search according to their preferences.
3. Start small, and then expand. In spite of increasingly fast global networks like 4G and LTE, sluggish download speeds still remain a factor with mobile retail sites. While South Korea enjoys the fastest internet speeds in the world, huge markets like China and India are still on slower connections. China’s 900 million mobile users have an average mobile internet speed that’s only 50 kbps, so if your site takes too long to load, chances are they’ll grow impatient and click away. Avoid this scenario by keeping your homepage design simple and using small images. Remember – your customers have come to your mobile site with something very specific in mind and they want quick results. Help them reach their objective in as little time as possible, regardless of their network connection.
4. Create a convenient, incentivized shopping experience. Convenience. Convenience. Convenience. Your international customers love mobile because it’s easy. So continue to make it easy, and fun, by connecting mobile to your other sales channels, allowing customers to purchase on your mobile site and pick up products in your brick-and-mortar stores. In Japan, when customers order products online they often pick up their packages at local convenience stores instead of using home delivery. While not connected to one retail brand, the system offers same day delivery and convenience customers have come to expect. Integrating mobile into your cross-channel customer service efforts will instill confidence in shoppers vis-à-vis your brand.
5. Make it simple to connect. Social sharing like Twitter and Facebook have become the norm for mobile retail sites, allowing customers to quickly and easily share products they love with their social networks. Give your customers ample opportunity to promote you on local social media sites. For your Brazilian mobile site, for example, invite your customers to share products on Orkut.