Retailers Missing Out On The Mobile Revolution
By Tanya Mannes
A significant gap has emerged between the number of retailers who have mobile websites and the consumers who want to shop on mobile sites. Fewer than 3 percent of retailers in San Diego County have websites formatted for mobile phones, despite a growing number of customers who want quick access via their iPhones and other devices. Half of all mobile device users said that they are more likely to purchase from retailers that have mobile websites, according to a new report titled Supply & Demand of the Mobile Web for Retail.
Fewer than 3 percent of retailers in San Diego County have websites formatted for mobile phones, despite a growing number of customers who want quick access via their iPhones and other devices.
Normal websites are designed for viewing on large desktop monitors, not the tiny screens on mobile phones. They have too many graphics and too much text, which is tiny and hard to navigate from a phone.
Consumers use mobile phones to find stores, scan product listings or compare price. Half of all those surveyed said that they are more likely to purchase from retailers that have mobile websites, according to a new report titled Supply & Demand of the Mobile Web for Retail.
“A significant gap has emerged between the number of retailers who have mobile websites and the consumers who want to shop on mobile sites,” said David Engel, partner at Brand Anywhere, the San Diego mobile-marketing agency that released the study.
- Brand Anywhere
This is the Coco's Bakery Restaurant website as viewed on a desktop computer. Notice the image of the pie, which doesn't show up if you are viewing it on an iPhone.
Engel said that any retailers cut marketing budgets during the recession, then were caught off guard by how quickly consumers adapted to using smart phones.
A major problem is that websites use the computer program Flash, but images created with that program show up as a blank screen on around half of all mobile devices including iPhones and iPads.
Mobile websites are designed to show up when the server recognizes that someone is viewing the website from a phone. They are formatted for display on a small screen, and generally limit the information choices shown to avoid visual clutter.
Brand Anywhere partnered with Luth Research, a San Diego market-research firm, to survey consumers and analyze 7,000 U.S. retailer websites using a proprietary application that looks at web pages on 10 devices including the iPhone, iPad, Droid, SonyPSP and BlackBerry Bold.
The report found that just 5 percent of retailers nationwide, and 3 percent of those surveyed in San Diego County, had websites designed for mobile devices. And more than 20 percent of the retailers' websites use Flash, making that content invisible on iPhones.
Retailers should consider whether a mobile website is something customers want, and if so, should set aside money in their budgets to do so, Engel said.
- Brand Anywhere
This screen grab shows the Coco's Bakery Restaurant website as viewed on an iPhone. The Flash images on the website show up as blank space because they're not compatible with iPhone technology.
"Our research indicates that consumers stand ready to reward retailers who provide a good mobile web experience," said Dan Flanegan, managing partner of Brand Anywhere.
Mobile websites need to be user friendly, Engel said. If the text and graphics don’t display properly, the customer has to “pinch and squeeze” to manipulate the view. That can turn off customers, he said. “There’s a threshold for how willing people are to pinch and squeeze to view a website before they just give up,” he said. “I can only speculate that it’s not helping business.”
James Brennan, owner of the trendy nightclub Stingaree in San Diego’s Gaslamp District, said the company had problems with its old website, which relied heavily on Flash.
The company decided to completely redesign its website, “which was pretty expensive,” to be compatible with the new iPad, he said.
The new website, stingsandiego.com, launched in August. It's designed so that consumers can find it by searching in Google for phrases such as “best nightclub in San Diego” or “bottle service in San Diego.”
“Our traffic went up significantly when we launched the new site,” he said. “It was huge. A big return on investment.”
He said the number of people signing up for the club’s guest list quadrupled within the first month. The Stingaree website is important for branding, he said. “Most of clientele is going there to find out what the nightclub is all about.”
Dylan Whitman, director of strategy for Flank Marketing, handled the Stingaree website redesign. His company uses the new web standards such as HTML5 and CSS3 to design websites that look the same on both computer monitors and mobile sites.
“Right now, people have a great opportunity to jump ahead and to be the first, early adopters of the technology and position themselves as leaders in the marketplace,” Whitman said.
Another local business with a mobile website is the Kearny Pearson Ford on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. Tom Nicholl, the dealer’s general sales manager, said the company always tries to be at the forefront of technology. He said the website, kearnypearsonford.com, has been iPhone-enabled for nearly a year.
“The mobile activity on our site is insane,” Nicholl said. “I bet it accounts for about 20 percent of our website traffic.”
People use the dealership's website to reach the service department and view inventory, especially used cars, he said.
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