If I asked you to complete a 20-page form before buying a pair of headphones, would you do it? Probably not, and that is why most mobile shopping experiences suck.

Smartphone and tablet users now avoid purchases and abandon shopping carts because mobile ecommerce sites are dishing out a level of user-unfriendliness that is completely discouraging and wholly unnecessary. Some retailers practically have buyers charging at them with dollars in hand, only to make them run the digital version of a Tough Mudder before they can purchase goods. Your customers don’t have the time for that, and their fingers don’t have the energy.

Jumio’s 2013 mobile commerce analysis found that retailers lost $16 billion dollars because 47% of shoppers abandoned mobile purchases and 57% of them never followed up on a computer, according to a Harris poll. 41% of people surveyed found checkout too difficult on a mobile device.

In other words, the only thing stopping your customer from impulsively buying a 50 lb pistol crossbow might be your mobile shopping interface. Or their mothers.

Either way, if you want mobile buyers, you need to lay out a red carpet for them instead of a 12-mile adventure race course. Here’s how to do it:

1. Make Navigation Simple

Your shoppers should feel like you designed your mobile site or app to make buying items as quick and easy as possible. You ruin this dream of simplicity right off the bat when your force shoppers to do a lot of typing. If I want to buy a Plantronics Bluetooth Headset on a computer, it’s really easy to type that into a search bar.
However, shoppers don’t necessarily go into mobile shopping knowing what they want—instead, they’re bored on a bus and thought some shopping would pass the time. It’s not fun when they have to type 29 characters. Shoppers would much rather tap a category then scroll through easy-to-see options. And, if they have to enter their name and email on one page, their address on another and their billing info elsewhere every single time—and actually spell things correctly—their patience will wear thin.

No matter what, the shopping cart and checkout must be one click away, at all times. Have your users tap and swipe rather than type.

2. Erase Redundancy

Never make a shopper do the same thing twice. For instance, let’s say a customer wants to update their cart. They want five crossbows instead of one so they can arm their entire family for the impending zombie attack. If they have to return to the item page and manually add one crossbow at a time, or even enter “4” and add them to the cart, they’re going to be aiming bolts at you instead of the zombies. From the shopping cart, shoppers should be able to change quantities, delete items and generally control their shopping experience.

3. Remove Roadblock Interfaces

On mobile, time costs money—for you. When your mobile app or site slips up, the chances of abandonment climb dramatically. On mobile, a costly mistake is one that forces your user to repeat a step in the checkout process. For example, if someone accidentally deletes a credit card from their payment quiver, can they easily retrieve it or undo this action? If not, you need to remove that roadblock.

4. Responsive Design

‘Load’ symbols are now as hated as that little Netscape globe that used to flicker while you waited for Hamster Dance or the Klingon Language Institute to load. No loading—make your site responsive. When shoppers are waiting for items to load, they can’t buy your stuff. When we wait long enough, our 21st century attention span takes us elsewhere very quickly.

5. Be Consistent

When interfaces change on what seems like a monthly basis (cough…Google Maps…), users get frustrated at having to relearn the website. Consistency allows shoppers to develop patterns and learn what the interface elements do on your site. Once they learn how to operate the basic elements, they will work out new features quicker and reduce the time needed to complete a purchase. Your item descriptions and options will vary with your products, but selections need to be easy and then clearly presented to customers during checkout so they feel confident they got the 50 lb crossbow with zombie targets instead of mere circle targets.

If you’ve been making your mobile shoppers suffer through a generic ecommerce template, knock it off. It’s time to customize, or it’s time to fire your UX person and re-customize. The whole ‘rise of mobile shopping’ is going to seem like a huge letdown if no one likes shopping on your site. Get in your customer’s face with an easy interface. Or, make them run that Tough Mudder, fail to buy a crossbow and get left unarmed during the zombie apocalypse. Trust me, you don’t want to live with that guilt.