What is mobile optimization, and why should you care?

Apr 10 2018 | PayPal editorial staff

Not that long ago it made sense for ecommerce businesses to focus on websites built with desktop machines in mind.
After all, that’s how their customers were accessing their stores. But that’s changed over the past few years. More recently, best practices have dictated an omni-channel development approach that takes both mobile and desktop into consideration, and today we’re seeing an even greater shift toward mobile. As mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, it’s more important than ever to ensure your business’s website is easy to use on phones and tablets. That’s where mobile optimization comes in.

The importance of optimizing.
Put simply, mobile optimization is just what it sounds like: optimizing your website so customers can easily browse, select, and buy your products from the device of their choice, and it isn’t just a nice thing to do for your customers. It’s also a smart business move. Sixty-eight percent of Americans own smartphones,1 and in 2015, mobile commerce sales rose 38.7% compared to the previous year.2

If that isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps this is: On April 21st, 2015, Google changed the way it ranks websites in searches from mobile devices. The change boiled down to one factor: how well your site is optimized for mobile viewers. If your site isn’t optimized, it could mean that you now rank lower in mobile searches. Google is interested in its users’ overall experience, and you should be too.

If your customers are happy with their mobile shopping experiences, then they’ll be more likely to come back again in the future.

How to optimize your site.
From a development standpoint, there are three ways to create a site that will work on mobile devices:

1. Responsive web design.
Probably the simplest approach, this method produces ONE website (that is, one URL, one set of HTML, etc.) that works no matter what device or size screen it’s viewed on. Responsive web design leverages things like fluid grid layouts for your pages, flexible images that resize, and media queries that trigger different CSS style rules. Done right, the end result is one site that will automatically flow and scale to adjust to the device it’s viewed on.

2. Dynamic serving.
This takes the above one step further by actually serving up TWO sets of code (essentially, two different websites) depending on the viewing device, for an even more targeted experience for mobile shoppers. Your domain name (URL) stays the same.

3. Mobile website.
Mobile sites use a completely different domain name (and HTML, etc.) for mobile shoppers. If you’ve ever seen a URL like “m.domain.com,” you’re on a mobile site. An app can easily be created to launch it.

Mobile design.
No matter which method is used, there are several “rules” to follow that will result in a better experience for mobile users. Mobile sites should:
  • Require less scrolling, data entry, taps/clicks, and zooming.
  • Feature easy-to-find “Add to cart” and “Checkout” buttons.
  • Support a wide range of devices – iPhones, Android phones, various tablets, etc.
  • Use buttons that are big enough to tap easily on a small touchscreen.
  • Keep image use to a minimum, because images increase the time it takes for a page to load.
  • Use a simple payment process that requires less data entry; fewer checkout steps can mean fewer abandoned carts.
  • Implement strong mobile security.
  • Offer universal sign-in between PCs and wireless devices to seamlessly integrate both shopping methods.
Finally, your site should ask for as little new information as possible from existing customers. They should be able to check out with just their username and password – don’t ask them to re-enter their credit card, shipping, and billing information. PayPal’s payment processing, for example, does exactly that: customers only need to log in to their PayPal accounts to complete a purchase with just a few taps. They even have the option to stay logged, so they can speed through checkout on subsequent visits. That’s just one way we keep mobile in mind.

Round out the mobile commerce experience with help from PayPal.
We get it: Mobile shoppers are vital to your business. That’s why our checkout products are mobile-optimized. All versions – Express Checkout, PayPal Payments Standard, and PayPal Payments Pro – will detect a shopper’s device and automatically optimize the payment experience for them. Because the solutions are optimized for mobile devices, your customers won’t waste time waiting for pages to load or entering their personal information on pint-sized screens. Using PayPal helps puts them on the fast track to getting what they came for.

In fact, a January 2015 study of 1,300 participants, done by SurveyMonkey, found that consumers are most likely to use PayPal as their mobile payment service. It also showed that PayPal has the highest mobile payment awareness and consideration in the industry.3

The takeaway: Offering PayPal on your mobile site is a must-have for capturing sales from on-the-go shoppers.

Because our functionally is already baked in, there are no additional fees or charges. Plus, our checkout products are easy for you to set up, and they deliver a seamless, secure payment experience for your customers – whether they choose to pay with PayPal or a credit card.

We understand the importance of making your checkout process intuitive for all customers, including those on mobile devices, and we have the offerings to help make it possible. Visit paypal.com/business for more information about our products, and check out the PayPal Demo Portal to see exactly what the payment experience looks like on a mobile device.

The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

1 Pew Research Center, “Technology Device Ownership: 2015,” October 2015.
2 Internet Retailer, “Mobile commerce is now 30% of all U.S. e-commerce,” August 2015.
3 SurveyMonkey, “Brand Pulse: PayPal & the Mobile Wallet Industry,” January 2015.

Frequently asked questions.

What is the Message Center? 

PayPal has created a Message Center for its customers, like most financial institutions and eBay provide. The Message Center gives PayPal the ability to communicate with you within the framework of a new mailbox inside your PayPal account. It also provides you with a way to validate customer service emails that you may consider suspicious. This way, you can trust that the communications you receive are from us.

How does the Message Center work?

Emails from PayPal will be put into the Message Center. A notification will be sent to let you know that you have a message. The Message Center will be accessible online; mobile browser optimization and access via the mobile app will be included later.

Now, all PayPal customers can upload files in the Message Center when replying to a PayPal email. Customers can still upload documentation in the Resolution Center and in the name change flow, but going forward, you’ll have the option to attach files in the Message Center. This way, customers are able to upload documents when there’s no case involved.

Please note that emails in the Message Center are available for 90 days from the day they were sent. If you would like a copy of any messages prior to that timeframe, please click here for contact information.

There are two ways to connect to the PayPal Security Key via a mobile phone:

1. Log in to PayPal.com via your mobile phone

Here's how to get the security code sent to your phone:
  • When you log in, click the Send SMS button and check your mobile phone for the text message with a 6-digit security code. You'll usually receive a text message response in less than a minute, depending on your carrier service.
  • If you have multiple phone numbers on your account, be sure your mobile phone has been set as the primary phone number. If SMS is not available, we can also call your primary phone number if you’d like to listen for your 6-digit security code.
  • Make sure that your primary mobile phone number is enabled before you enable the Security Key, or else you won’t be able to log in with the Security Key. Note: you can still log in via a different method (for example, by answering your account security questions).
There is no fee to use the PayPal Security Key, however your standard mobile rates apply when you receive a security code by SMS or by phone. Check with your mobile provider for details.

2. Download and launch the PayPal app

If you’re using the PayPal app on your mobile phone instead of logging in through our website on your phone:
  • Log in to your account with your email and password, as you normally do, and wait for a PayPal Security Key SMS that will contain your OTP. Enter your pin to log in.
  • The PayPal app allows you to log in to you account using your iOS/Android device’s fingerprint reader. Check the app settings to set up this feature.
If you requested a code but did not receive one, first ensure your device has proper reception. Note that if you are in an area without a phone signal or with a period of high network traffic, the token might not arrive in a timely manner. You can request another code by tapping Send SMS again.
Request money1 from anyone with an email address or mobile phone number2 for free, just tap Request to get started.
What happens after I request money using the PayPal app?
  • If you send a request for money to an email address, the recipient receives an email with a link to pay you back using PayPal. If you send a request to a phone number, the recipient receives an SMS with this same link.
1 Request Money is only available in certain countries. Please check the PayPal website.
2 Sending a request for money to a phone numbers is only available in certain countries. Please check the PayPal website.

You can log in with a PIN instead of using a user name and password. When you add your PIN and mobile number for the first time, you’ll get an SMS to confirm your mobile number. You can use your PIN to log in and use PayPal at large retailers.

Your PIN should be 4-8 digits long and something that no one can guess.

To add, change, or enable your PIN, go to Settings (the cog) and tap Login and Security.

You can change your security questions in your Settings or Profile (the cog) page  on our website.

Tip: Logging in with a mobile PIN is available only in certain countries. Please check the PayPal website.