Multichannel Retailer's Mobile Commerce Sales Surge with New Hybrid Responsive Design
Jewelry Warehouse, a multi-brand retailer that operates four brick-and-mortar locations as well as four e-commerce websites, hit a milestone this year. Its Garnet and Black Traditions mobile commerce site experienced 384% growth, and Internet Retailer named it number two in their 2013 ranking of the fastest growing mobile commerce programs, second only to Fab.com. Part of their formula for growth has been an investment in new technology, and in April they upgraded their mobile site to a new responsive design that is both adaptive in the content it delivers to various devices and responsive once that content reaches the device.
“Our experience has proven that to get the best conversion rates, mobile sites have to be easy to use. Shoppers need to be able to quickly find what they are looking for without doing a lot of work. We have made this a focus since we launched and it has been key to driving our growth,” said Chris Boomhower, e-commerce director for Jewelry Warehouse.
According to an Internet Retailer report, "Garnet and Black (Traditions') decision to move to responsive design for the mobile site is paying off. The e-retailer launched its responsive site April 18. Prior to that date, the mobile conversion rate was 3.21% and mobile sales accounted for 7.51% of total web sales, the merchant reports. Today, the mobile conversion rate is 5.83% and mobile sales account for 18.2% of total web sales."
Boomhower and his team first launched the site, which specializes in University of South Carolina fan apparel and accessories, in November of 2011 and they are now transacting nearly one-fifth of their total orders from mobile devices. As the site’s success has grown over the past two years, the retailer has continued to focus on initiatives that create the best possible experience for its mobile shoppers. Responsive design was the next logical step, according to Boomhower.
The Garnet and Black Traditions team worked with its e-commerce platform provider UniteU Technologies to incorporate the new design and technology in a few weeks. “By implementing the new mobile features we are now able to deliver a significantly improved browsing experience. Previously, when a smartphone shopper was using landscape mode, the usability was challenging. Now customers can use whichever screen orientation they're comfortable with and we are delivering the optimal presentation to them, regardless of the format or device,” said Boomhower.
UniteU employs a unique hybrid approach to responsive design, said Soumen Das, CEO of UniteU Technologies. "Devices are categorized into groups, with desktop and tablet devices being one consideration and mobile 3G/4G devices as another category. UniteU then uses a combination of client-side and server-side technologies to send only the responsive elements that are applicable to an individual user's device. This reduces the amount of data transmitted and provides increases in speed and performance," he said.
A Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, is only served responsive elements applicable to 3G/4G devices. The content that is received then also dynamically adjusts to the orientation and screen size. The same holds true for all major brands and models of mobile devices, including Apple iPhones and iPads, and other Google Android and Microsoft smartphones and tablets.
“This makes it much easier to manage design elements and presents significantly less code for the mobile phone to process," said Boomhower. "That solves the common responsive issues of page weight and speed.” Additionally, as new designs or updates are deployed, testing can be done for a specific device category so that a change to the mobile design does not require re-testing of the desktop site.After seeing the steady uptick in the analytics and metrics he tracks, Boomhower said he is confident that the responsive upgrade will continue to drive incremental sales and provide a compelling shopping experience as the South Carolina Gamecocks enter a new season. "We are achieving optimal speed and response times, which is critical for customers to have a good experience and to complete orders on a mobile platform.”
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