6 mobile search and merchandising tips for the holidays

As the Christmas holidays approach at lightning speed,retailers consider sales strategies and consumer buying and shopping preferences. Mark Brixton gives us six mobile search and merchandising tips to maximise sales during this peak shopping period.

Recent data shows there is set to be a 30% rise in mobile sales from the 2014 to the 2015 holiday season, with 25% of shoppers expected to purchase their Christmas presents from smartphones or tablets alone.

It is becoming clear that mobile and tablets are fast becoming the preferred way for consumers to make an online purchase, largely due to ease of use and ability to access on-the-go. As a result, companies must ensure their site is functional for mobile or risk missing out on vital sales.

We’ve put together six tips that will help any e-retailer optimise for mobile and capitalise on the momentum of the holiday season.

1. Centre your search box

Having a great search function is critical for mobile shoppers as it instantly directs them to the product they are seeking. According to Google, the number one recommendation for building a mobile-friendly site is: make it easy for customers. Heavily contributing to the ‘mobile-friendly’ signal is whether or not visitors, after landing on a mobile page, can easily complete the tasks they want to accomplish by solely using the mobile site. Given mobile’s space and speed challenges, the search box is the best gateway to finding products and content on mobile sites.

A simple tip to make your search easy is to keep your search box front-and-centre on every page of your mobile site, so that it is the first thing customers see.

2. Autocomplete sentences

An autocomplete feature is a great way to increase the speed at which customers can get around your site, as it means that users only have to type in a few letters to find the search term they want. It can be a nice idea to include graphics to make their search even easier.

3. Give shoppers what they want

With small screens, your mobile shoppers need to see what they want in the first three or five results, or they’ll bounce off the company’s website. It is crucial to make sure your search results are always accurate and relevant.

4. Refine your refinements

For dropdowns options, use large, tap friendly buttons that list only the most popular refinements. This makes it easier for shoppers to narrow down to the perfect product that they are looking for.

5. Always show results

Be upfront when you don’t have the item a shopper searches for, but ensure your site uses the screen space to recommend similar products, or even your most popular products. That way you might still land a sale.

6. Make it personal

It is a smart idea to use the site search data to inform your merchandising. As part of this you can watch for common searches and fast growing trends. Once you have mined this data, you can use it to create merchandising banners for the most popular products with your customers.

The holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for e-retailers and with mobile becoming an increasingly used purchase platform, companies must optimise their mobile functionality so they can take advantage of the sale opportunities it presents.

By making these simple changes quickly, and testing them ahead of the peak Christmas period, e-retailers can get the jump on their competition in the 2015 holiday season.

Mark Brixton is regional vice president, SLI Systems.