How to make your OpenCart site lightning fast on smartphones and tablets

Take a moment right now and visit your online store on your smartphone. Do you have to zoom-in to read the text? What if you are looking for a certain product? Does it take you more than 15 seconds to find it? Are you getting frustrated? You may not, because it is your site and you're patient with it, but how can you be sure your mobile visitors are still there?

What if, instead of exercising patience, like you did, they tap the back button of their browser and visit the next search result in Google, looking for a site that is easier to navigate?

Let me make a wild guess here:

Most of your mobile customers are leaving your site before they make a purchase

On the other hand, your desktop visitors take the time to look around your site, add products to the cart and purchase them. This means that your site works fine. Why don't the smartphone visitors use it then?

Well, because… Wait, you want to know the truth?

Mobile visitors find your site difficult to navigate

Top that with the fact they are usually in a hurry, easily distracted by their surroundings and you get your recipe for lack of sales:

Smartphone visitors of your site can't get to the product they came looking for, let alone muster the patience needed to go through all the checkout steps.

"I want to check out already!"—this is what they think when filling in the "Confirm your password" field on step 1 of 7.

And then they leave your site frustrated…

Now, imagine this happening for every mobile visitor of your site. What a loss, isn't it?

All that mobile traffic to your site should bring in more orders to your store. What if you could increase the conversion rate of smartphone and tablet visitors and stop leaving money on the table?

Start with this:

Stop giving your mobile visitors unnecessary reasons to leave

Nothing can keep potential customers on your site if the navigation, checkout forms and buttons are impossible to tap with a finger, without hitting any of the neighbouring links, fields or buttons. Fingers are less precise compared mouse cursors, remember?

What if they could find what they are looking for in a matter of seconds and check out lightning fast? This means more sales for you and less unnecessary actions for your visitors, turning shopping into a pleasant and rewarding activity.

How do you turn more of your mobile visitors into customers?

There are two ways to reduce the frustration and keep them shopping:

1. A mobile app

The mobile traffic to your site is increasing. Meaning you have to ensure the comfort of your mobile visitors so that they make a purchase. This can happen with the help of a mobile app.

Mobile apps are optimised for the devices they live on—they can use the full functionality of the smartphone/tablet and provide fast access to your store right from the home screen of your visitor's device.

But wait, are you big enough to have your own app?

  • Do you have regular customers?
  • Are you a market monopolist or a chain store monster of the size of Walmart and people know of your existence?

Why is this important?

Imagine you are in a lunch break. You go out of work, start the app of the restaurant you usually eat at, place your order, and, by the time you go there, you have your lunch ready. You would love to have an easy access for this routine activity, hence, being a regular client, you download and use the pizza/sushi restaurant app.

A customer who downloads an app is a loyal customer. They already trust you. But, you want to reach all of your mobile visitors, both first-time or loyal. You can't expect a first-time visitor to download your app when they just want to find a product on your site.

People who buy using a mobile app are the ones who already know where to buy the product they need. Hence the Walmart reference. As a small independent store, you don’t have that kind of loyal audience. Yet.

If you don't match the above criteria, it would be madness to waste your precious resources on developing an app.

Still think you can justify spending the time and money needed to develop an e-commerce mobile app?

Here are some of the costs:

  • Smartphone app development is not cheap
    Simple apps cost in the range of $1000–$4000. Multiply this by 4 (one app per platform) and you've gotten in the range of $4000–$16000, if you want to be able to serve 99% of your mobile audience (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone).
  • Apple and Google "app developer membership" expenses
    To be able to submit you app to Apple's AppStore or Google's Play Store, you need to pay a yearly membership. $99/y for the former and $25 for the latter.

Additional things you also have to take care of:

  • choosing and hiring a developer
  • project management
  • app testing

You just can't manage without being involved, especially if you are a one man company.

What is the alternative if your resources are limited?

2. Install a dedicated OpenCart Mobile Theme

With significantly lower effort you can replicate and even exceed the positive effects of having your own mobile app.
And you can do it right from your site.

Making your site mobile-friendly comes with the following benefits:

  • Extendable functionality
    Mobile-friendly themes (they make your online store look good on smartphones) support OpenCart extensions. This means that your mobile visitors will have immediate access to the new functionality you add on your store.
  • No need to download anything
    In the presence of competitors, nobody will ever download and use an unknown app in order to complete a purchase from a store. With a mobile-friendly theme your smartphone and tablet visitors can use the site right away in the best way possible for their devices.
  • Your site is available across every platform
    What makes your site cross-platform is the fact that every smart device nowadays has a built-in browser. This way you can reach an even wider audience, compared to having a single app.

Last, but not least, the major advantage:

  • Every improvement you make on your site will be immediately available for your smartphone and tablet visitors. You won't have to publish your app to different app stores and wait for approval.

Installing a new theme or an extension on your store beats the time it takes for an app to be created. Every. Single. Time.

So take a fraction of the time and money you would need for developing a mobile app and invest them in equipping your store with a mobile friendly theme and extensions. You will thank me later.

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3 thoughts on “How to make your OpenCart site lightning fast on smartphones and tablets”

  1. Interesting note about mobile apps and mobile friendly sites. I actually agree with the person who wrote this note.

    But, there ir only one reason i would like to have an app: just to open my mobile friendly site, so people doesn’t have to type my site, just to click on an icon in their phones to open it and that is.

    To do that is easy to download an app and just click on it, instead of typing the name of my site.



    1. That’s a good point Daniel!
      But have you considered the amount of typing a mobile owner needs to do before he gets your app on their device? Tap once to go to the app store. Tap for the second time to go install it. Type in your password, tap OK… and so on, depending on the appstore and the platform.

      Again, if you have regular customers they will be far more inclined to go through the above process, but only after your store has proved valuable to them. But how did you get them to become your customers on the first place? What if their first experience with your online store was via their mobile browser?

  2. Every site owner wants a website that performs fast so this information could be very beneficial for them. This is extremely helpful post to create a perfect website.

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