Google said it: Why marketers need to be mobile-ready by April 21st

If there was any doubt that 2015 would be the year of mobile commerce, banish the thought. Starting April 21st, Google’s mobile search algorithm will be updated to factor in mobile-friendliness when ranking search results. In other words, not having a mobile-friendly website will soon directly impact your mobile search engine rankings.

And those rankings matter, especially for eCommerce companies. Americans now spend an average of 4.7 hours on their phones each day; unsurprisingly, a lot of that time is spent shopping. Mobile commerce is on track to account for 26% of US retail eCommerce by 2017, up from 19% in 2014. It’s a logical step for Google to optimize website searches on mobile to show mobile-friendly results; it’s now a necessity for eCommerce companies to beef up their mobile offerings.

It’s now officially time to go mobile. Here are four tips, ranging in expertise from beginner to ninja-level, to help get you started:

1. Beginner: Mobile Responsive Website

Per Google, a mobile-friendly site is now the bare minimum needed to make the cut. Desktop versions of websites that require customers to zoom and scroll to find the needed info should now be relics of the past. With website builders such as Shopify and Squarespace offering responsive, mobile versions of your site at no charge, it’s easier than ever to offer a smooth mobile eCommerce experience.

2. Intermediate: Dedicated Mobile App

It may not be enough to offer a mobile version of your website. Mobile apps can be an integral part of your marketing strategy, allowing you to push notifications to customers, promote mobile-only offers, and analyze user behavior to deliver a more personalized experience. We previously noted that 47 percent of shoppers who have purchased via a web browser or app prefer the app experience, so think about developing an app that appeals to your customer base, if you haven’t already.

3. Advanced: Optimized Mobile App

Shoppers prefer the in-app experience because of the convenience and speed factors. Don’t take away the biggest benefits of mobile shopping by releasing a buggy, counterintuitive e-commerce app. Optimize the experience through testing, integrate social media logins, and consider payment processers like Square and Apple Pay to facilitate one-click purchase options.

4. Ninja: Omnichannel-focused Mobile App

The best way to delight customers and achieve results is through an omnichannel approach, which should be reflected in your mobile app, too. Home Depot’s mobile app holds the gold standard because of the way it seamlessly blends the customer’s virtual and physical shopping experiences. From beacon technology to real-time inventory refreshes to AR capabilities, an omnichannel-focused mobile app will elevate your mobile game to ninja level. And who doesn’t want that?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, mobile strategy for eCommerce is more crucial than ever. Google’s April 21 deadline is a good incentive for companies to start taking mobile seriously. However, mobile-friendly soon won’t be enough to make the cut. If you haven’t already, start investing now.