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Australian consumers embracing mobile

Over the last year, there has been a lot of discussion around mobile and what it means for consumers and businesses. While some businesses are still considering whether to expand online, more and more Australians now expect to be able to access the Internet wherever they are, whether it is at work, at home, in transit, or in-store.

Innovation in mobile technology has led to an increasing number of consumers using their mobile phones in place of desktop computers and laptops – researching, browsing, and shopping via their mobiles. Never before has it been so easy to look up your bank statement, check out bargains and make purchases with a single device that can fit in your pocket. Australians are taking advantage of advances in mobile technology, simplifying their lives and using technology to complete multiple errands on the go. Australia has the third-highest smartphone penetration in the world and more and more Australians are now using smartphone devices to make purchases and inform their purchasing decisions.

Mobile commerce has taken off at an astounding rate. In 2010, the mobile payments market in Australia was valued at $155 million and PayPal expects this number to skyrocket over the next few years with PayPal mobile payments growing at a staggering rate of 430 percent year on year. In March 2011, PayPal released its first Australian data on mCommerce, revealing that the total value of mobile transactions processed via PayPal Australia had hit $42 million in 2010. Now, PayPal Australia processes over 1,000 transactions an hour on mobile phones and expects mobile payments to more than quadruple this year in Australia alone.

So what can businesses do to adapt to the huge uptake of smartphones? For entrepreneurs with businesses that are already online or are looking to establish an online store, investigating how to make your site mobile-friendly is definitely worthwhile. With more consumers potentially accessing your site via their mobile, you need to make sure your website fits on their screen properly and doesn’t take too much time to download. Shoppers tend to be more impatient on mobiles, seeking to access bite-size information quickly, with a few clicks as possible.

Considering this, let’s look at how you can create a good mobile experience for your customers.

1. Set up a simple layout that’s easy to navigate. Think about the size of the screen they will be browsing on. Make sure users don’t have to scroll down and sideways excessively, as this will just frustrate your customer.

2. Consider what you need to include on your mobile site carefully. You should only include important information and navigation links. Australians shopping on their mobile-only want what they need to know, so keep it simple.

3. Keep images to a minimum, or make sure they’re small. While you may find it necessary to include product images for your mobile store, make sure the images are small jpegs that don’t take too long to load. There is no need to have high-res photos for a mobile site.

4. Make the most important buttons as clear as possible. Buttons like ‘buy’, ‘add’, ‘checkout’ etc. are some of the most vital clicks to your business. Make sure they are easily viewable on your mobile site.

5. Test your site across different devices. Check how your mobile site works across different mobile phones and tablets and on different screen sizes.

6. Provide a link to your normal site. This is a great option to have in case your customers need more information.

Considering all these points before launching your mobile site will help you create an intuitive mobile experience for your customers. To minimize the rate of shopping cart abandonment, it’s also wise to fine-tune your mobile checkout experience. By creating mobile sites, retailers stand to gain substantial product awareness, new customers, and additional revenue streams. Utilizing mobile technology allows retailers to establish additional touchpoints for their brand, as consumers become accustomed to accessing the information on the go.

Consumers are increasingly using mobile technology to source items before purchase, to look up information on competitor products while in-store, compare prices, and share their purchase experience with other shoppers. Smartphones have given consumers the ability to carry entire catalogs in the palm of their hand so that they are more informed about their purchases than ever before.

Mobile commerce has undoubtedly hit the mainstream and as businesses draw up their online strategies for 2012, mobile should form an integral part of this planning.

In her role as head of small business for PayPal in Australia, Emma is responsible for helping small businesses to achieve online success by converting browsers to buyers through the implementation of safe and convenient payment solutions.

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