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Only 18% of the UK’s small businesses have mobile-friendly websites

By Dan Wilson October 3, 2017 - 4:52 pm

According to research from PayPal only 18% of British SMEs have a website that’s mobile-friendly.

A UK survey of more than 2000 small businesses and 2000 consumers reveals a growing gap between online shoppers’ mobile preferences and what small businesses are offering. Mobile shopping growth is outstripping overall online spending by four to one in the UK. And this trend looks set to continue, with 30% of Brits expecting to use their smartphones to shop more often in the next 12 months, rising to 44% for 16 to 25-year olds. Mobile devices are already central to today’s shopping experience with 6 in 10 (59%) ‘millennials’ browsing for new purchases on their smartphone every day.

Nicola Longfield, Director of Small Business at PayPal UK, said: “With mobile web browsing overtaking desktop for the first-time last year[8], it is more important than ever that businesses adapt. Bridging the gap between customer expectation and what businesses are offering need not be daunting. There are small changes businesses can make to give themselves a boost, and the top item should be making websites more mobile friendly for smartphone or tablet. Shoppers are increasingly frustrated by websites which require them to pinch the screen to zoom in and scroll endlessly to find miniature checkout buttons.”

The first thing to say is that there is a big difference between a fully responsive mobile optimised site and a site that can be used effectively on a smartphone but doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. And it is also a question of what a business website is for. If your site is for information then you can likely get away with a site that’s usable but hasn’t been optimised. However, if you’re looking at a transactional website where people can browse and buy your goods, then the investment may well be worth it. That also assumes that your ecommerce website does decent enough sales to warrant the cost. It often seems that marketplace merchants who also have their own webshop find it very hard to get cut through in search to justify great expense and make the bulk of transactions via the marketplaces.

All that said, if you are considering building out your own distinct webshop then it makes sense to choose a supplier that does that makes it mobile-friendly as standard so you’re good to go from the outset. You can find such companies in the Tamebay Guide section for Online Stores.

  • Toby
    2 months ago

    All very true. We designed our website through a company offering reasonable templates. We do 99% of our business on ebay etc and the website is many things to us other than sales! It holds product info, has info pages for customers and of course a sales back up! Driving customers to it has been hard and getting people to follow up with sales is even harder. However its not a great expense and those that have given us feedback and made it worth while.
    But here is the issue…. obviously being a ‘off the shelf’ set up that we have adapted means it is affordable compared to revenue generated, but it lacks in a few palces that this article flags up.
    What shows as just right on a desktop site, even when optimised for mobile, can show up very differently on a phone etc. So often the effect on a big screen just doesn’t transfer to a small one (headers are great example). In some cases we have to decide what is more important, the small screen or the big one!
    Now im sure we could shell out a huge amount of money on a customer made site to over come this, but its not a big revenue maker for us, so can’t really justify the cost. Plus, various parts changes each week, availability, range, etc, so we like to be able to quickly access it and change stuff without any real knowledge of web design.
    The answer would be to make it more profitable, but that isn’t easy. We are very seasonal in sales and during peak times we are often at maximum capacity, so generating lots of extra sales here would be counter productive. At the same time trying to get people to divert from our ebay sales to our web site is a non starter. Tried this and with the race to the bottom on ebay, there is nolonger any margin left to offer big enough discounts to get people to swap to from what they are used to.
    All in all…. what we are left with is a compremise. Not ideal, but in a online world where the main selling point seems to be lowest price…. and we will bitch about the crap service later, what more can you do?

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