Help Me to Help You: A Mobile Commerce Rant


12604_IPhone_Flash_ErrorI did a significant amount of my Christmas shopping online this year. I did 90% of it from my iPhone. I spend most of my days and evenings running around, whether it be running a business or running a household. Like millions of other Americans, I tend to be over scheduled, over caffeinated, and find myself constantly trying to multitask without driving myself (and everyone around me) nuts. This year, I found myself shopping from my phone during any “white space” time I had. White space time is the time between activity A and activity B. It’s the time I spend on the bus during my morning commute. It’s the time spent in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. It’s the 45 minutes spent waiting for my kid to finish her piano lesson. And yes, I fully admit that I bought Barbies and LEGOs from the bathroom.* Taking advantage of these brief windows of white space time allowed me to finish my shopping without a scheduled, time consuming effort. Winning, right? Right. Then why did I find myself fully annoyed with an embarrassingly large number of retailers?


At first I was just mildly perturbed. I shook my head and quickly moved to the next search result. I thought it a shame that the first brand likely worked hard to achieve that high search rank. I imagined that money invested in SEO, PPC, social mentions, and the like, cost a good deal of money. I was willing to bet their analytics were impressive. I imagined marketing teams proudly sharing their reports with their executive teams, basking in the chance to say “Look at how awesome we are at our jobs! Yay marketing!” The more I searched and the more I shopped, the more irritated I became. I’m not just talking small brands with bootstrapped budgets here. I’m talking about the big boys with big budget. Brands that know better. At some point along the way I started taking it personally, because every time a company serves up a crappy mobile experience it makes me feel like they hate me. Like, “Hey! We know that people shop from their phones and tablets, but we don’t care!” Then I imagine them flipping me the finger and waving copies of their Google analytics reports in my face. Somewhere in the distance I hear “Ha! Ha!” in the voice of Nelson from the Simpsons. None of which surprises me because, as we established already, they hate me. Obviously. So, are they awesome at their jobs? Are these finger flipping, analytics toting, super-awesome marketers good at their jobs? Let’s find out.

Dear Awesome Marketing Team,

How awesome is it that I attempted to purchase your product after clicking through your top ranked mobile search result, but couldn’t easily purchase your product from my preferred device? How awesome is it that it took me less than a minute to determine that your mobile shopping experience is a pain in the ass? How awesome is it that I gave my money to your competitor and will most likely never shop your site in the future? In short, I have money. I want to give you my money. Please stop making it hard for me to give you my money. Also, why do you hate me so much?

Hugs and kisses,


You see what I’m getting at here? You know which analytics mean the most to me? The ones that tell me how many times I’ve served up a “Confirmation of Purchase” page.

Achieving increased web traffic, top search ranking, and a healthy social community doesn’t amount to much if it brings customers to your door only to have them decide that your mobile commerce experience is too much of a hassle to deal with.

Everything feels less awesome now, doesn’t it? The truth is that our online purchasing habits aren’t so different from our real world purchasing habits. Consumers want things to be easy, fast, and immediately gratifying. If your mobile site is a pain for me to use, you are giving your would-be sales to your competitors. In fact, of the consumers that have a poor mobile experience on your site, 75% of them won’t try your site in the future. In some instances brand loyalty will save you, but consumers today are fickle, and we have high expectations. Likely because some of your competitors have made shopping from our phones so easy that we just can’t be bothered with brands that make us work. We’re like toddlers. Toddlers with iPhones and credit cards.

Ok, I’m being a little harsh here, but I’m feeling a little rant-y. I really never thought I’d be writing a post like this in 2013. To some of you, this is yesterday’s news. I thought that was the case too, but the past shopping season opened my eyes to the staggering number of non-mobile or “slap-a-template-on-that” mobile sites ranging from large, notable brands to startups. Somewhere along the way I think some (not all) online marketers might have become wrapped up in the feeling of success that comes from looking at positive web analytics: more unique visitors, more social mentions, more time on site, more followers, more likes, etc. The problem is that you can have all those things and still have a crappy bottom line. In 2013, the user experience you offer consumers is crucial to the success of your business. That user experience must include intuitive mobile navigation and an easy, secure mobile payment process if you want to capture more sales on your website. Once you give as much weight to mobile user experience as you do for getting consumers to your site, you’ll be on your way back to awesome.

You can catch Sarah Santiago at MPITechCon February 19th 2013 at IIT in Chicago. If you would like to get more information about MPITechCon (THE tech conference for the meetings and events industry) go to

Sarah Santiago (1 Posts)

Sara Santiago is Founder and President of Roll Mobile, an award winning digital agency in Milwaukee, WI. She is a contributing author and a national speaker on mobile web and app development, user experience design, and the evolution of social business strategy. Sara has been a featured speaker at digital media conferences such as South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX, and BlogWorld New Media & Expo in New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA. When not on the road, Sara and her team work on digital strategy and mobile development for clients such as Master Lock, Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Sub Zero – Wolf, and Aurora Healthcare. In addition to over a decade of experience in electronic marketing, ecommerce, and brand development, Sara has a strong technical background in user experience design, usability analysis, web development, application development, and healthcare informatics and related systems. Sara and her team put high priority on providing excellent service and high quality deliverables, and are committed to supporting their clients in understanding and leveraging the the ever evolving mobile marketing technology.

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