Ecommerce Web Design Considerations Should Include Responsive

by Michael Moores

Ecommerce Web Design Considerations Should Include Responsive

by Michael Moores

by Michael Moores

Thinking of a New Web Design for your Ecommerce Site?

Responsive Design is a great ROI

Online merchants have become increasingly aware of the need to provide new and existing customers with better and easier to find content and it’s not just about google page rankings anymore. By now, everyone has heard and generally understands the phrase “Content is King” – (thank you Bill Gates). Content includes not only links to product schematics on your product page, marketing eSpots on your homepage, the use of video, or better navigation on your blog, but also an increase in consumer-generated content such as reviews, blog comments and social sharing.

How easily accessible is your content? If you are operating with only a desktop site, what is the user experience on your site across all media devices? Do you know how many visitors are coming to your site from Mobile Devices? As business consultants serving smaller businesses, we understand. Small business merchants today may not be able to embark on a HUGE redesign of their site to support mobile usability but ignoring it all together is only pushing prospective clients away.

According to Internet Retailer 2015 Mobile 500, more than one-fifth of the leading retailers in m-commerce have gone responsive, and developers and other mobile experts predict that number could rise to half next year. Secondly, 57.6% of mobile sales in the 2015 edition come from web sites on smartphones and tablets. Leading retailers know that today’s consumers expect a rich, easy to use website experience no matter what device they are using. These industry leaders have realized that responsive design is no longer just an option, but a must.

Mobile pays off with more than just great user experience

Our customers are experiencing an amazing 40% to 50% of traffic coming from mobile devices and those same results are happening all around the ecommerce industry. According to mobile and web measurement firm comScore, 55% of time spent with e-retail in June of 2013 occurred on a mobile device.

What is your current user experience on mobile devices? If your site does not provide an optimal experience on mobile devices, perhaps you should consider any investment in light of your mobile traffic statistics. However, spending just a few thousand dollars on minor modifications to your site and not incorporating a mobile strategy may not result in the intended impact that you desire.

For example, let’s say that you decide to invest $5,000 to make a few layout modifications to your homepage to add marketing content and to also expose more of your dynamic content by highlighting your blog. Additionally, you would like to change your blog landing page to make it easier for your customers to find relevant information.

Let’s further assume that 38% of your total site sessions are from mobile devices and that number increases to 42% when you look specifically at your blog. The changes you are making are only going to serve roughly 60% of your site visitors. That is a $5,000 investment for only a $3,000 impact! You are losing $2,000 on day one. If the trends continue, that  loss only gets worse over time as the number of mobile users grows. According to Internet Retailer, Forrester estimated that 29% of all 2014 online sales would be from a mobile device and predicted “60% of U.S. online consumers will own a tablet by 2017.”

In 2012, flash-sale retailer Beyond the Rack realized that mobile sales in ecommerce as a whole were rapidly increasing. Without a mobile-friendly experience on their own site, they were experiencing low conversion and revenue per-visit rates. With the holiday season just around the corner, they realized they were not going to be able to capitalize on a busy holiday season unless they implemented an optimal mobile shopping experience for their customers. In just four months, Beyond the Rack designed and implemented a mobile strategy that allowed them to showcase their inventory and provide a seamless checkout experience. Today, mobile sales account for up to 44% of their total sales.

Don’t isolate your largest customer segment

One of the product categories seeing the most mobile sales growth recently is the Apparel and Accessories industry. This fact was eye opening to one of our clients, JUNIEblake, a small niche apparel retailer that designs and sells trendy, modest clothing for women. Building on their brick and mortar shop experience with their Safford, Arizona boutique, Sorellas Elite Fashion, in just a short amount of time they have established a trusted brand and have a large loyal base of followers on social media. JUNIEblake had experienced steady growth with their site since its inception in 2012 and initially engaged us for the sole purpose of making some small site changes for them. When we took a look at JUNIEblake’s analytics, we noticed a much larger percentage of mobile visitors than they had expected. With a poor mobile experience, they were not effectively serving nearly half of their customers. After optimizing their site for mobile, in just 3 weeks we’ve seen an overall improvement in conversion rates of 37%, as well as an increase of 23% in overall session duration.

This experience is not limited to the retail industry. Another of our clients, Enerco, producers of the Mr Heater brand, noticed they too were not serving their customers’ unique needs. Their focus is two-fold; to first support their customers no matter where they purchased their products with support, maintenance, etc., and second, to better serve their retailers and service centers. After redesigning their site and optimizing for mobile, in just two months we have seen a 32% increase in overall session duration, along with a 16% increase in pages per session, which means that users are engaging far more than they did previously.

Perhaps the even more interesting fact with Mr. Heater is that these improvements are also being seen with Desktop users, which actually register a little better at 34% and 19% respectively. This reinforces the fact that a properly designed mobile experience actually benefits Desktop users as these designs tend to be cleaner and simpler, which are key design components regardless of device.

Envalo’s Magento Certified Developer, Jarod Rose is encouraged by this trend as it improves both the overall site performance and the user experience. “It used to be that if you wanted to have a mobile site, it would end up being just that, a site designed for the mobile browser, completely separate from the desktop site. So, if you wanted a mobile site, you’ve doubled your project cost and added a bunch of hidden support costs for an entirely separate site. Now however, if we go about things the right way, and tweak the site designs, we can create a single site that maintains a consistent experience across all platforms and spend a lot less time (and money) than we would to create two sites.”

According to a recent article, another reason to have a well-designed mobile strategy for your site is the fact that Google ranks mobile-optimized sites higher in mobile search results. Since responsive sites deliver a mobile-optimized experience, your site is more likely to rank higher on mobile search results pages.

Content First or Mobile First? Yes!

With an ever-increasing number of consumers researching products from mobile devices, you should be taking BOTH a content first and a mobile first approach to all online initiatives. Nicole Domanski, Envalo, Inc.’s lead design and usability architect explains that “we take responsive design with a mobile / content first approach. It’s not a mindset of mobile-first or content-first anymore. It’s both! You have to think about the experience and interaction along with the content because it all matters. Although a full site redesign is expensive, if done correctly, a responsive design will serve you for many years and devices to come.”

Domanski further points out that an organized site often has you managing the same piece of content in several different admins. “You just need one well-organized admin to create multiple experiences with each piece of content,” she explains. “The end result is a customer that is not distracted by your site and instead browses, shops and checkouts in the convenience of their home, office, bus ride to work, park picnic scenario, or wherever they might be.”

Give your customers ultimate access. Or your competitors will.

What store owner wouldn’t want to give their customer the ease of shopping wherever they might be? Responsive design, though it may increase your site investment, it will most certainly save your business time and can result in a significant increase in sales in a very short period of time. With the rapid swing toward offering a responsive experience, your competitors are probably already moving toward responsive design. You cannot afford to get left behind!

Are you thinking of a site redesign? Considering responsive? Or perhaps you have recently done a responsive site redesign and are seeing great results. Comment below and let’s start the conversation!


Michael is the Founder and CEO of Envalo, Inc. a Cleveland, Ohio based company focused on helping small- and mid-market businesses with their online eCommerce solutions by Creating Value through successful solutions and efficient ERP integrations. He is passionate about Creating Value to each project he undertakes and each person he contacts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.