How to Optimize Your Mobile Shelf Presence

Best practices for engaging and converting

Mark Zuckerberg famously stopped taking meetings for products that weren’t mobile-first in 2017 and the Facebook founder’s decree turned out to be rather prescient.

Mobile ecommerce was forecast by eMarketer to reach $248 billion in 2020, amounting to 45% of total U.S. ecommerce sales. For marketers, this should be a wake-up call. If you aren’t being intentional about how your brand is showing up in mobile commerce environments, you stand to lose out.

Seamlessly engaging and converting consumers in these spaces comes down to optimizing your mobile shelf space. What is the mobile shelf? It’s anywhere your product is bought and sold on a mobile device. It’s your product page on commerce sites and the images and text that appear during a search.

Communicating your brand story and creating an easy and enjoyable experience on mobile takes a lot more than simply repurposing your desktop assets. You need to develop them specifically for mobile and make sure you are taking advantage of what little space you have. Here’s how to get it right.

The 4 Ws of the mobile hero image

Your hero image is the first thing consumers see when they perform a search or are browsing, and it has a lot to accomplish. As you think about optimizing your hero, there are four “Ws” to keep in mind.

The first is “Who.” From your hero image, it should be immediately clear who your brand is. Use clear logos, brand imagery, your distinctive color palette or a combination of the three to make sure the consumer will instantly recognize your brand.

Next is the “What.” This might seem simple, but being able to easily tell what type of product you’re looking at is crucial. If a consumer is searching for something specific, they won’t have the patience to click on your hero if they can’t tell what they’ll get on the other side. Invest in clear, high-quality imaging to pull them in as quickly as possible.

The third layer of this is the “Which,” meaning which formula, fragrance, size etc. Like the “what” you want the consumer to have to do as little work as possible as they shop.

Last is the “hoW.” One of consumers’ biggest frustrations with online shopping is not being able to tell the quantity of something they are looking at. Use your hero image to clearly show if it is, say, a four-pack or a single item, and how big it is (ounces, # of pieces…). You don’t want someone clicking over to your competitor just because they were confused.

When working with the four Ws, don’t forget that on mobile, your hero image will appear about the size of a quarter. Making sure your image works for that small of a space will take some forethought and an investment in imagery made specifically for those dimensions.

Don’t rush it

Different commerce platforms will have different options for optimizing content, be it below-the-fold control, number of panels or image specifications. Many sites will allow you to choose if you want to load desktop vs mobile assets. Always take the time to create additional assets specifically for mobile devices. This is the only way to ensure you are giving your customers the best experience possible and accurately representing the quality of your brand.

As you work on improving your mobile shelf presence, be aware that sites are constantly changing and trying to improve the experience. While this is an overall positive, it does mean you’ll have to stay on your toes and make sure you are keeping up and changing your assets to fit whatever updates come along. Never assume that what worked last year or even last month will work today. Continually check and confirm best practices and specifications for each site.

Working with external experts whose job it is to stay on top of these changing parameters and are practiced at telling stories on the digital shelf is never a bad idea. Outside expertise will ensure your brand comes across how you want it to and that your customer experience is never lacking.

As chief creative officer of the Olberding Brand Family, Tony Neary provides creative oversight across the entire portfolio, including Amplify’s digital adaptation services. Prior to joining Olberding, Tony worked in leadership roles at Deskey and Interbrand and ran his own boutique agency, Traction.