As of May of this year, 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online, and 34% mostly access the internet on their phone, according to a recent Pew Internet survey.  Almost 75% use their phone to get directions, and according to Constant Contact, 43% of all e-mail is opened on a phone. This is an increase from 10% in 2011, so you may well not have realized it had grown so sharply.

What does this mean to you as a small business owner? Like me, you probably work on your web site and compose your e-mail blasts on a desktop computer, where they look great in a large, wide format. But we need to be aware that a significant number of our customers — and potential customers — are learning about our shops on a very small screen.

Start by evaluating your web site by looking at it on a mobile device. We are in the process of overhauling ours, because frankly it doesn’t look good on a phone.  We will be adding buttons at the top of the page that will lead to further information, and a large one that goes immediately to a map. The mobile version of our page will be have less small print a narrower format.  We also need to evaluate our shopping card (for gift cards) to make that more mobile friendly, possibly adding the option of Paypal or even Google Wallet.

This change is something that we need to have our web designer do for us (and if you’re reading this blog on a smart phone, I apologize that Apple’s iWeb, a wonderful but “abandoned” program, doesn’t offer an option for a mobile version). The URL will be the same as our store’s home page, and the device itself will be able to sense which version to access.

The next change I need to make is in our e-mail newsletters, which often are two columns wide.  No one accessing it in this format on a smart phone would be able to read it, I now realize.  So starting tomorrow, we’ll be using a single column format. We’ll also be using large fonts, more call to action at the top of the message, and smaller, quicker to load images.  Of course we will have to keep in mind that over half of our readers are still using a desktop to access the e-mail, at least to date.

You’ll want to test your web site and your e-mails on both a desktop and mobile device to make sure that you are appealing to all segments of your customer base. Let’s make it easy for customers to find our businesses and products, and to be motivated to make a purchase.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder