Published on January 17th, 2013 | by Lewis Parker

Mobile devices pose challenge for ecommerce

This Christmas saw the sales of smartphones and tablets go through the roof.

In three years, the number of Americans with a tablet or e-reader has increased from two per cent to 29 per cent, according to the Pew Research Centre.

This poses a number of challenges for businesses, some of which have been addressed by the good people at SME blog Practical Ecommerce. “Websites that render in their native form on a tablet and smartphone are likely losing sales due to navigation and usability requirements of those devices,” they say.

Drop-down menus a problem

One of the key problems they identify is the fact that most tablets are operated by a finger on a screen, not a mouse cursor. This means drop-down menus become a problem, as do links which are too close together.

The key to making your site work well both on a static terminal and a mobile device can be solved by creating a mobile version of your site. To do this, you create a mobile subdomain such as – with the ‘m’ standing for mobile.

Amazon an early bird

Big sites such as Amazon and some newspapers were early adopters to this new formatting. They not only responded to, but drove the kick in mobile use, from which they stand to benefit. In 2009, traffic from mobile devices was just two per cent of the total, compared with 10 per cent now and rising.

For a guide to making your site more mobile-friendly, Practical Ecommerce have provided this useful primer for ‘responsive web design’.


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