Needless to say, small business owners need to be aware of this growing trend because their customers are accessing information in a wholly different way, said Bob Coppedge, the CEO of Simplex-IT in Hudson. “You have to understand mobile is increasing,” he said during a recent COSE WebEd webinar.
It’s critical that entrepreneurs ensure their websites are mobile-friendly, that is, easily navigated on a smaller smartphone or tablet screen. Responsive design, which refers to the ability of a site to reorganize itself automatically based on the size of the screen, is one step owners should take when it comes to optimizing their mobile site.
“You want to make sure people are able to do business as seamlessly as possible, but still secure,” he said.
Mobile-friendly websites are important because customers are increasingly making purchases through their mobile devices. According to an August 2015 report from Internet Retailer, mobile represents 30% of all U.S. commerce. “Back in ’08 and ’09, people weren’t buying anything on mobile,” Coppedge said.
Beyond the commerce angle, mobile-friendly sites are important for another reason, Coppedge said. It’s another way to engage customers and other stakeholders. “You have to take mobile into account.”
Another way mobile is shaping the way companies do business is in how their employees are leveraging mobile devices. More and more employees are bringing their own devices to work and business owners need to account for that, he said.
The challenge in this is how to manage the security aspect, Coppedge said.
“If you do not provide devices, you are somewhat dependent on how secure those other folks are making their devices,” he said.
One way to manage security is to implement a single sign on service. With employees having to juggle many different accounts and passwords for things such as social accounts, shipping services, etc., single sign on allows is a way to create an online database of all employees and their credentials. The single sign on service can be accessed directly through its own website, or can be loaded onto the employees’ phone as an app.
At the end of the day whether its customer- or employee-facing, entrepreneurs should be clear about how mobile is interwoven into their business plan, Coppedge said.
“You need to have a business strategy,” he said. “You have to align strategy with devices and the resources customers will be using.”