Retail may be one of the most dynamic and innovative industries, but when it comes to mobile, far too many brands are missing the point. Mobile traffic dominates online activity; yet low mobile conversion rates have historically led mid-market retailers to downplay the importance of the mobile channel. The result? Too many retailers are simply opting for a quick-fix responsive design approach to create a ’mobile-friendly’ experience that can be anything but.
Slow loading pages, unmanageable navigation, and tortuous check-out processes are resulting in bounce rates often in excess of 80%. Retailers are not only missing out on sales but creating an appalling first impression in what has become the dominant route to market, effectively closing the door to the mobile sales channel.
M-commerce is not about simply making ecommerce mobile; a mobile-commerce-first strategy is a retail imperative.
Mobile traffic dominates for the majority of retailers – as evidenced by companies such as John Lewis, which reported in January that upwards of 70% of its online Christmas visitors arrived via a mobile device. So why do a vast number of retailers not see m-commerce as a priority? Yes, mobile conversion rates are low compared to desktop but that misses the point. If the majority of customers’ first interaction with a brand is via mobile, then a retailer must create the best possible mobile experience or risk losing business.
Yet those mid-market retailers that have opted for a quick-fix responsive design approach are experiencing bounce rates leaping often to over 70%. Sites deliver slow page loads combined with complex navigation processes, which are the antithesis of an experience that follows mobile commerce best practice.
Although web developers have unanimously embraced responsive for all mobile-related development, the reality is that while this model works well for representing content in a mobile form factor, it has serious flaws in successful m-commerce experience.
Mobile customer journey
In fact the problems go far beyond slow page loading. The mobile customer’s journey from browse to checkout is fundamentally different to the desktop journey. The mobile shopping experience is often more about task-driven ‘shopping with intent’ than a long, engaged brand experience; it is about a short, sharp, efficient browse to purchase experience – and the mobile site should reflect that difference through every aspect of the navigation through to a simplified check-out process.
So why is that not happening? Why are so many web developers still committed to responsive design despite its m-commerce limitations, especially when this attitude flies in the face of the approaches being adopted by successful retailers? Take a look at retailers offering top rated mobile experience, such as House of Fraser, and the majority have been developed for purpose to reflect the specific needs of not only the mobile device but, just as critically, the mobile customer journey. (The remainder are very expensive, highly-engineered responsive design solutions that are a world away from the quick-fix models adopted by many web developers.)
Clearly, this m-commerce-first model is an approach that needs to be rapidly adopted by the rest of the retail community – but where can a CEO turn if the web development team is determined to pursue the responsive approach?
In a market where desktop dominates revenue for the majority of retailers, it is tough to assess how investment should be allocated to the mobile site. CEOs are also justifiably concerned about the affect on sales of diverting resources from the established desktop environment. So don’t. Keep the established web development team focused on its core skill set and leverage a proven software as a service (SaaS) m-commerce model to deliver a highly-tailored mobile experience.
This approach not only minimises upfront investment, but also leverages the relevant aspects of the desktop development such as product, category and pricing information, branding, and style, to automatically populate the customised mobile store. With the pay-as-you-go model, the cost is directly proportional to consumers’ mobile activity – meaning the investment reflects exact business requirements. Critically, the results are impressive – making the return on investment compelling.
Within a matter of weeks, retailers can see mobile conversion rates rising from the typical 0.5% associated with a non-optimised mobile site, towards 2%. While this is still below the average 3% desktop conversion rates, the interesting fact is that radically improving the speed to purchase affects other key performance indicators, with increases in average basket size and revenue per day. Indeed, the bottom line figures are compelling – a retailer that achieved only 14% more transactions saw revenue increase by 203%; another increased conversion rate by just 18%, and yet saw a 254% increase in revenue as a result of increasing order value.
The perception that mobile is not a valid sales channel is clearly flawed: leading retailers are not just investing in mobile – they are prioritising mobile over desktop for a reason. These m-commerce-first strategies are transforming the customer experience and reinforcing brand values. Critically, they are measurably driving up revenues. While mobile conversions are unlikely to reach the same level as desktop, simply due to the nature of mobile usage, dedicated mobile sites are fundamentally outperforming the rest of the market, with higher basket values and greater overall revenue.
The reality is that more customers now come to a retail business through mobile than any other channel; mobile is the primary touch point and a bad mobile experience will cause long-term damage to brand perception – no customer will even try out the desktop site if the first mobile experience is poor. Those 40% of retailers not considering mobile right now might just need to think again – and do more than a quick-fix responsive site. An m-commerce-first approach is a necessity.