4 simple ways to perfect the UX of mobile ecommerce

By Paula Borowska Posted Dec. 29, 2014 Reading time: 4 minutes

Shopping on a mobile device can be a nightmare. It’s possible however, to create a smooth and delightful shopping experience.

Mobile devices are small and have little screen real estate so it’s important to embrace this limitation instead of fighting it. Oftentimes, apps clutter the small space with as many things as they think a user might need but it’s actually counterproductive. The best shopping experiences are ones that are light, where the product is shining through and the remaining information acts as supporting content rather than fighting for the user’s attention.

Below are a few tips for creating a great mobile shopping experience.


1. Declutter your interface

As with most other design instances, decluttering is the first step. Mobile shopping experiences are best when the focus is put on the products alone. Let the user browse through your inventory freely by getting rid of unnecessary junk like excess navigation, excess information, or excess promotions.

Forever21’s app is a wonderful example of what not to do. Their app has a lot of navigation options like breadcrumbs or a sole back button in a horizontal tab. It’s a waste of space. Their navigation is a disaster too. It’s hard to use, as it focuses on “Lookbooks”, promotions and taking selfies instead of allowing the user to just shop. Clean it up!


Now take a look at One Kings Lane. When you first open the app you are greeted with big photos, and a feed full of products. Browsing is so easy and so simple because the interface is clutter free. One Kings Lane’s app allows the user to focus on the actual shopping through its inviting design; you just want to look at everything they have!



2. Provide quality photos

Mobile devices, especially phones, have tiny screens. Product photos should not be even tinier; the products need to be seen in detail. If photos are pixelated or small, it will annoy shoppers. Shopping on a mobile device is difficult enough as it is. Embrace the limitations by focusing on your products through big and beautiful photos.

Fancy is a wonderful app for discovering cool products. In their mobile app they showcase the various products with a big full-width square image. It’s a great experience browsing through their app as you can clearly see an item being displayed. More importantly, the majority of the photos are high quality, and each item is presented well. The lighting, the composition and the overall quality of images is high enough that, as a user, it makes me want to keep browsing.


PINK Nation is a shopping app for PINK products like lingerie. They get one thing right: there are plenty of product photos. However, they are small. The browsing screen is divided into two columns and because a lot of the photos are of full body models instead of the item at hand – like a bra – it’s hard to see it. If you open he product page it’s still not that easy to see the details of the bra; you can tap the photo if you want to zoom in though. It’s simply not an ideal experience.



3. Don’t make me log in to shop!

For some reason, in order to browse and shop on mobile apps the user is often required to log in. It’s a very strange thing to do, as you don’t see this on desktop websites at all. Simply don’t do it. Allow the user into your app so they can browse first. It’s such an inconvenience to ask them to sign up for an account up front.

Rue Lala and Wayfair, are just two apps that won’t let a user into their app before singing up or logging in first. It’s a bit easier to by pass this gate if you already have an account but it still makes no sense to ask for this. Let a user see what you’re selling first, then worry about them logging in, as it can still pose issues when people don’t recall their information. It’s a truly unnecessary roadblock as people who can see your products are significantly more likely to purchase something then ones who never get to see them because they never got into your app in the first place. If someone put in enough effort to download your app, let them actually use it.



4. A clear basket and an easy checkout

Once someone decides to buy something in your app, it’s important you let them check out with the utmost ease. Make sure that the process, from adding an item to the basket, to confirmation of their order, is a seamless, and mindless experience. It’s crucial not to annoy a user when they are trying to check out. At this point they have decided to buy your product so let them do exactly that by eliminating obstacles and focusing on ease of use instead.

Gilt is another app that doesn’t fully understand what it means to provide an easy experience for the user. When you choose to add something to your basket you are asked to log into an account — or sign up for one. The item isn’t added to the basket, not until you are logged in. It makes absolutely zero sense. It doesn’t stop there, either; when you tap on the basket icon you are again prompted to log in. Don’t make things harder or confusing for the user. At least wait until the user decides to check out to ask for this information.


River Island makes the checkout process delightful. The overall design of their app is fantastic, and it shows in their checkout process. The basket provides a clear UI that shows you exactly what you are buying. The layout presents itself really well with the total price at the top, and the prominent checkout button at the bottom. The individual items are well displayed too; you know how much everything is, what everything is – thanks to the thumbnails, and their size and quantity as well. It’s all clearly displayed for you.




Improving the mobile shopping experience is possible. The best thing you can do for your app is to declutter it and to focus on your products. After all, a user is using your app to browse through your goodies as it is. Make sure you provide a simple, easy, and seamless experience for them. The easier it is for a user to buy a product the likelier they are to buy it, no?