The biggest mobile Christmas yet! Are you ready?

This year, mobile Christmas shopping is really going to soar like never before!
This is the year mobile will begin it’s journey overtaking desktop for Christmas shopping.
Are you ready?

Last year, there was an overall 17.8% increase in online sales, much of which was due to  increased usage of smartphones and tablets and higher trust in shopping via these devices. This year, mobile shopping is set to dramatically rise. Adobe have predicted mobile shopping will grow by a whopping 97% compared with last Christmas and they anticipate tablet growth of 60%.

However, people are still quite split in their opinion of online shopping:

“I’d actually rather go and touch it and see it, to be honest, rather than go online”
“Convenience… and it’s easier to compare prices. If it’s something expensive I’d go and look at it at the shop first and then buy it online at the best price.”

Mega Monday (or Cyber Monday)

The first Monday in December (Dec 2nd this year) comes shortly after payday (last friday in Nov, also known as Black Friday) and is consistently the busiest day for online retailers. Having browsed retailers online over the weekend and shortlisted their favourite items to buy, shoppers log on typically after dark on Monday. The busiest time being between 8pm and 9pm.

Interestingly, the term ‘Cyber Monday’ was originally created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online and it appears to have worked incredibly successfully!

Last year £320m of sales were made on Visa’s credit and debit cards, with that number set to significantly rise this year. It’s been dubbed Mega Monday by Visa, which says people across the UK will use its credit cards to spend £222,222 in 4,722 transactions every 60 seconds – an increase of 20% on last year.

According to Barclays bank, nearly two thirds of high street retailers surveyed expect website traffic to increase by 11 per cent on 2 December.

On Mega Monday last year, online retail spending increased 18.9% compared to the same day the year before. Online is spreading across smartphones and tablets, with an ever-greater share of online sales. The last Mega Monday saw Mobile representing 21.5% of online site traffic – up a staggering 79% on the year before.

December’s Twin Peaks

Did you know there are two peak days in December for mobile click throughs? The first is Mobile Sunday, this is the second Sunday of December. The second is Christmas Day, especially in the morning. These are two days you need to be prepared and planning for.

Stuart McMillan, head of e-commerce at Schuh, predicts the busiest mobile shopping day will happen slightly after this, on the 16th December.

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Source: Econsultancy

Stuart says “It’s likely to be mobile-tastic this Christmas. I predict that we’ll have 33% of traffic coming from mobile devices, 22% from tablets and 45% from desktops by mid-December.
Now’s not the time to make big changes to your sites, but there is still opportunity to do some MVT for copy optimisation. There are probably still things that could be done on mobile site speed which are quick wins.”

Mobile WILL overtake desktop

John Lewis predict that mobile traffic will overtake desktop this Christmas.
“Mobile is set to be the shining star of Christmas 2013. Shopping is becoming much more of a social experience with people browsing, purchasing and sharing ideas with others using their mobile phones and tablets. We expect this to increase dramatically during the festive period as customers shop on the go and we anticipate that Christmas Day will be the tipping point for mobile.”
Interestingly, John Lewis have traditionally seen customers sticking to smaller transactions via mobile, however, they say this has been rising.

What should you do right now?

Tips from Keep It Usable:

  • If you don’t have a mobile site, optimise what you have. Do a usability test – firstly your current site may not be as bad as you think! The test will highlight the most crucial areas to make mobile friendly. Make sure your hit areas are big enough and that forms are usable. You may also want to implement a save or share link so the transaction can be completed on desktop later.
  • Plan for cross-platform shopping. Even if customers don’t transact on mobile, they are using mobile throughout the discovery and browsing phases. Ensure consistency across devices so that users can easily find what they were looking at on other devices.
  • Focus on persuasion. Could your copy or design be more actively engaging and persuasive? Sometimes simple design changes can have a big impact and an outside set of eyes can really help. An expert review of your site from an outsider is quick and inexpensive.
  • Focus on search results. At Christmas and on mobile, people are both stressed and short of time so they want accurate results when searching. Make sure you provide filters so users can narrow down large search results, different viewing options to cater for different preferences, reviews should be clear and easy to find otherwise you risk losing customers to other sites (that they will visit to read the reviews), make sure you’re showing the most relevant information in search results and of course clear calls-to-action are essential.
  • Start preparing for next year. While it may be too late to turn your business around this Christmas, you can prepare for next year; 2014 is set to see continued growth in online, as well as a proliferation of mobile commerce.

Tips from Econsultacy:

Econsultancy recently published a great article with tips on what you should do right now to prepare for the Christmas period. We highly recommend you read the article.

Here are some of our favourite tips:

  • Extend your returns policy and make it obvious.
  • Incentivise repeat customers in the build-up to Christmas.
  • Obvious telephone numbers and email addresses.
  • Ensure that the checkout is as easy to use as possible (Usability test and implement the quick wins).
  • Make your last delivery dates obvious and consider using a countdown to give people a sense of urgency.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it. Thank you, have a lovely Christmas.

Guest Interview: On The Beach Head of Design

Keep It Usable On The Beach interview
This months Keep It Usable guest interview is with our friend Fritz Von Runte.
Fritz is the Head of design for our client On The Beach and we had the great pleasure of working with the team on a recent project.
Fritz Von Runte“I would go to the lab with Keep It Usable in the morning, and in the afternoon I’d be writing tickets to change things – in the best Agile practice.”

Could you tell our readers a bit about your background and your role at On The Beach?

I started my career in Art Direction almost 20 years ago, working for the advertising industry. I was always interested in “New Media” and eventually I decided to shift my career, to focus on web. Then, 7 years ago I made my masters in User Interface Design and specialised in UX.
At On The Beach I wear a couple of hats. I’m the head of a design team of four professionals. We try to maintain a certain design language throughout the company, with consistence and on brand. It’s a tough job because it’s a big company, with many colleagues, many requests, and many design problems, all in need of our solutions. Plus, it’s one of the most successful online travel agencies in the UK market. It’s a massive responsibility. I am also responsible for designing the experiences our users will have, not only in the web but also offline, via our flight and hotel vouchers, and customer documentation, for example.

What does your typical day involve?

I have a very busy schedule, but there’s a certain framework that I try my best to fit it. We’re Agile, so every morning we have the Design stand-up where we communicate what every member of the team is doing at the moment and discuss the flow of tickets. We also have Agile stand-ups for all other projects, most of these involving the Design Shop (as we call our team), so one of us must be there to update the other teams. I try to schedule all my meetings in the morning so I can use the afternoon for research and design.

How important is UX at On The Beach and why is it valued?

On The Beach has been around for almost 8 years and it grew very rapidly. A couple of years ago they began to understand the need to pay more attention to the experiences and the usability. I was brought on board as the first designer focusing on the UX, we had a good six months changing the culture to accept and understand a bit more about this need. But, to be honest, this change was painless and smooth, as the directors were (and are) open to new solutions that could improve the website and our client’s experience. We have a lot of room to develop, to research, and to propose new ideas. It’s a wonderful place to work and it’s a thrill to be doing UX design at this moment in time at a company like On The Beach.

You work to an agile development process. Why and how does UX fit into this process?

I guess that is the biggest challenge. Agile is awesome but historically it tends to treat design and the experience as something frivolous or secondary. One of my goals is to raise awareness of how better it is to deal with usage challenges from the start instead of doing it rapidly and then having to re-do it. On the otherhand, when we are testing and prototyping, we use Agile principles and it works really well to prove (or disprove) assumptions from a very early stage, without having to spend much time in development for example.

What tools do you work with?

Primarily with paper and pencil – it’s how everything starts!. Then I move to a PC. I find it easier to talk to the network and to other technologies with a PC. But, we have all sorts of platforms in our team; Windows, iOS, Ubuntu, Android…
When it comes to software I use many different ones. The whole Adobe suite of course – and I mean the whole suite! I’ve used Visio in the distant past, then I moved to Axure and Balsamiq, but because of the dynamics here at On The Beach I now mainly use Illustrator for my low-fi wireframes as I’ve accumulated an extensive library of symbols and actions… 🙂 Plus a lot of on-the-fly coding on the console and notepad, and also other online tools like UXPin, Litmus, JSFiddle, etc.

Mobile app vs responsive web design vs mobile web – what are your thoughts at On The Beach?

Responsive is a terminology that I don’t really subscribe to. There are two ways to see this issue. Firstly, like we all used to test our websites, years ago on different browsers and systems, and get charts of usage of monitor sizes and resolutions, we now should make sure this product performs well in all possible environments – the mobile, the tablet, the internet tv, the laptop, etc, in all browsers and all systems. Nothing has changed – the game is just a bit harder now.

Secondly, different products have different needs and different platforms have different needs. The very first version of Tetris I’ve ever played was called Nyet. Tetris is a classic game that existed in any possible platform, even portable ones like Gameboy. Have you tried to play Tetris on the mobile? It changed the whole dynamic and usability of the game. So having a webapp whose functionality is the same on different platforms, but with some adjustments to the grid depending on the screen size, is not something I take for granted.

I always challenge the concept of mobile apps, for different reasons. I don’t think it’s always the best way to serve your product to a client. I have a parallel career as a DJ and record producer, and the music market is flooded with Mobile Apps. I don’t see it as a great tool to serve content. I see it mainly as a badge on your mobile screen, saying to the world and yourself that you’re are a big fan of artist or band xyz. I think mobile apps – the ones you download, and that updates itself when you’re connected to the wifi – are more interesting when your product is a tool and that you think the user will use it enough times to justify its download and space on screen and internal memory.

With On The Beach there are two main factors that made us not to choose this route. Firstly we are so dynamic when it comes to software development, making at least two deploys per week, that an app from us would be constantly updating, and that wouldn’t be the best experience for the user – think Acrobat Reader, when was the last time it didn’t tell you it needs updating? 🙂 The second reason is accessibility. Although we have a significant number of customers choosing us as their online travel agent more than once a year, plus all the people that come back from their holidays and come to us to book their next ones – and that would justify an On The Beach app as a tool – we wanted to use our efforts and energy on something that would serve everybody. For example, users coming from Google or Bing, a link on Facebook, a suggestion of a friend or a specialist site like Trip Advisor (that sends us hundreds of users every day). Instead, we made an entirely new website, just for the mobile, that you don’t need to download or upkeep. It’s there for anyone with a connection and it works really well.

On The Beach Tablet and Mobile websites

Describe an example of the work involved from design through to implementation?

I think the design process is the same on every branch of design. From designing a chair to a party flyer, from a shopping cart experience to a car. We have an idea, then some high level analysis, then research, concept, testing and finally wireframing. Then back to the research.

How important is research to OTB?  How did the Keep It Usable research feed into the agile development process and how did the feedback help to shape the software?

Research is fundamental to my work and to the company. We are constantly analysing data and testing the best way to do everything. When it comes to our mobile website we did extensive research, and Keep It Usable was a major part of it. We had instant feedback on certain features that are paramount to the mobile experience. I would go to the lab with Keep It Usable in the morning, and in the afternoon I’d be writing tickets to change things – in the best Agile practice.

What are your favourite UX-related resources?

I have way too many bookmarks, rss and twitter feeds, but I think the benefits from other people or companies experiences come from knowing the whole case. This is why I love to go to meetings and talks, I’m very active at #NUX, and I try to go to all UX conventions I can. It’s a good way to get to know people in the industry, but mainly I do it to hear the cases straight from the horses mouth. A button being small or big, positioned left or right, its colours… it doesn’t mean anything without data, without knowing the purposes and goals that were briefed.

Would you like to work with us?

Keep It Usable help many different kinds of companies to understand their users. We conduct research with real people and design interfaces using an evidence-based approach; every element has reasoning.

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If you’re not investing in UX, your competitor will be!

Mobile shopping to soar this christmas

mobile christmas shoppingHow are you planning to do your christmas shopping this year? Online from your favourite comfy chair, nice and toasty by the fire? Will you take to the high streets in search of the perfect gift, taking in the christmas atmosphere with a mulled wine? Or will you combine the two, preferring to find the perfect gift then check on your mobile to see if you can buy it online and save money?

The latter of these options is called ‘showrooming’ and has become more popular in recent years as consumers seek out the best product by reading reviews and the best price for their intended purchase. Research by IAB shows people are also taking photos of products (22% did this) and posting them to social networks.

A whopping 76% of people now use their mobiles whilst shopping. The canny consumer, rather than walking from store to store to find the best price can now quickly use that mini computer in their pocket, to check prices on the whole of the internet. That’s some consumer power!

As retailers prepare for the big christmas spend, expectations by analysts are that mobile shopping (frequently referred to as m-commerce) will become the preferred platform for many consumers, especially with the rise of mobile apps.

Mobile purchases accounted for just over 8% of online purchases in the first three months of the year and this figure is predicted to increase to 20% by christmas. The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index forecasts that £920 million will be spent via m-commerce, which equates to one fifth of the £4.6 billion total online sales expected.

The big online stores are also expecting to see significant sales growth via mobile. Ebay expects mobile sales to account for 30% of all sales over christmas.

With more consumers turning to mobile shopping, ensuring you offer the best user experience is now more important than ever before. In the busy bustle of christmas, if your mobile visitors can’t find the items they want quickly, if the product details and reviews are too difficult to get to, if the path to purchase doesn’t offer a persuasive, engaging experience, they’ll spend their hard earned money with your competitors instead.

Did you know?

We worked on the design and usability for one of the very first smartphones.

Yes we’ve been working with mobiles for a long time! We’ve worked with most of the major mobile manufacturers and when it comes to mobile you won’t find anyone more experienced than the Keepitusable team. We’re experts when it comes to things like mobile interface design, user research, hardware ergonomics, usability testing, concept research, eye tracking and everything else mobile!

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We really are mobile ux and usability experts. You can trust our high quality work.

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