Adobe Commerce

Where’s the mobile?

Mashable today had an article about the gap in mobile websites.  Stats like 66% of major retail brands don’t have a mobile site and 10% of all web traffic is via a mobile device.  If you derive much of your revenue from online sales, nearly $12 billion in sales are via mobile purchases.  But as someone who works with large enterprises there are two sides to this coin.

  1. enterprises have made large investments in their web and commerce infrastructure and as hard as it is to hear, many of those large software vendors don’t have an easy or economical path to a mobile experience.  Some do like Magento/XCommerce and IBM can get there with some effort.

  2. These large investments were driven by the IT side of the house in large organizations.  That is changing and at a rapid clip to move IT spend and decisions to the marketing side of the house.  This side is focused, sometimes too much, on the absolute experience.  There are still non-functional and important enterprise architecture and security details that need to be retained and maintained but it will have to be a much more collaborative effort.

Mashable also wrote about some key points to remember.  I am a big fan of what they push out everyday and its a HUGE benefit to the business and IT areas of large and small companies but I think they more often than not take a purist and way too simple stance on some topics.  Here are some and my comments:

The survey, which tallied responses from 1,088 U.S. adult smartphone owners, found that:

  • Mobile sites lead to mobile purchases. This is a no-brainer: Shoppers are more likely to buy a product or service if your site is optimized for mobile. Three-fourths said they are more likely to return to a site in the future if the experience on mobile is good.

I agreed a mobile experience is awesome and needed.  I personally get quite upset when a site I need has a poor or NO mobile experience.  But these decisions need to be made in light of available resources, planned and agreed upon technology and business roadmap, current business goals.  Lets use two brands most people know.  Target and Patagonia.  Target has recently taken their entire commerce experience in-house from Amazon.  They do hundreds on millions of dollars of sales online and their brand I think drives them to have a mobile site – which is good.  I can get to what I need to (search could use some help) but the checkout experience is decent and on-par with what I would expect.  It is lacking social login which I personally think is a rather large gap.  But all in all, what I would expect.

Patagonia on the other hand, a company that has likely most of its customers in the upper tier of income ranges and avid sportist.  When I was a fly guide in Montana growing up, my connection to the world was my mobile phone.  I doubt little has changed aside from some market maturation.  Patagonia has no mobile website.  I know the platform that they are on and it has a mobile option.  I would bet that Patagonia built a site and corresponding tech decisions based on some user experience testing and that mobile wasn’t on the radar or enough that drove them to not do a mobile site.  I would further put money on the fact that it has changed and they are will be launching one soon.  Lastly, they run a slim IT department compared to peers so they don’t have a tower full of java developers ready to tackle the mobile effort in the next sprint.

  • If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, shoppers will go elsewhere. The majority of participants in the survey said that if they can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll sooner seek out a competitor’s mobile-friendly site instead of switching to a PC to revisit yours.

Not so.  Some people will but I would say that in top brands in retail and etail, have a tight enough relationship and brand affinity with they top spenders that they will just pull out a tablet or wait to get to a computer to buy what they need.  You can do lots of UX treatments to get users to come back to spend. In the next 14-24 months that will likely change.  But brands, good or bad, care about their top spenders. Airlines give free baggage and waive lots of fees that non-frequent travelers pay and gripe about.  They don’t care all that much because they travel 2-3 times per year and are price sensitive.  Every other brand does the same.  They listen to everyone but pay attention to a smaller segment then people might think.

  • A bad mobile experience can damage a company’s brand. A bad mobile experience can create bad feelings about your company. Nearly half of participants in the survey said they feel frustrated and annoyed when they happen across a site that’s not mobile-friendly, and that it makes them feel like a company doesn’t care about their business. More than half said a poor mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company in the future.

This really combines my two previous answers.  I think it affects a brand but not to the level one might consider.  If I had something you wanted and say gave it to you for 80% off what someone else who had a sleek mobile experience, chances are you would go through a bad experience to get that.  A prime example that is going to be proven in about 45 day – BLACK FRIDAY.  Lots of people wait in a huge queue overnight, and here in Minnesota, usually in a frigid environment to get great deals.  Me, I don’t like to wait in lines regardless of discount.  I go to Amazon.com, Target.com or other site where I know the experience, they know me and I know they will take care of me if I order the wrong Lego Deathstar for my son.

To conclude, the article should raise some questions – if they already aren’t being talked about.  Mobile is big and will be taking a larger chuck of the demand and experience.  Today I don’t think a flat out shame of sites that don’t have a mobile experiences.  There are way too many decisions that happen and other factors that are taken into account to flat out be that critical  I would say that if you are either doing an intranet or internet site NOW and it isn’t being delivered I would seriously question a company’s requirements gathering.  I am not saying that it isn’t on a roadmap and delivery schedule, but there are too many factors involved in complex organizations to get this out the door like its a WordPress site.

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Jonathan Distad

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