Ecommerce | Design
The Need for Speed (and a Good Mobile Site)
February 11, 2017
When implementing their strategies for 2017, savvy online retailers are paying particular attention to two lessons learned from Christmas 2016. Lesson number one: Pay attention to your website infrastructure. The websites of a number of major retailers, such as Macy's in the U.S., crashed, leading shoppers to visit—and buy from—competing companies. Lesson number two: Don't underestimate mobile. During holiday 2016, for the first time, mobile sales for a single day exceeded $1 billion.
"The biggest, traditional retailers are facing the reality that they must adopt new online strategies or succumb to newer competitors," say Lula McKee, vice president of marketing at etailer MensGroomingLab.com. "Over Christmas, we saw the beginning of a once-in-a-decade shakeout that saw the consequence of what happens when the biggest retailers get complacent and see online sales as just another channel to supplement brick-and-mortar store sales."
To survive the shakeout, keep these suggestions in mind:
Implement faster download times through CDN and orchestration technologies
The biggest driver of ecommerce success isn't visible to consumers at all: It's in the back-end infrastructure that keeps people online. Straightforward but extremely useful innovations such as content delivery networks (CDNs) and content orchestration platforms that prioritise the download of each page component will go a lot further in driving conversions than will any clever campaign dreamed up by the marketing department (sorry, marketing departments!). Consumers have surprisingly very little patience when it comes to websites and will start abandoning the site if it takes more than three seconds to download.
Design your mobile site so that it loads as quickly—and is as feature-rich—as your desktop site
During 2016 we finally saw an end to the unfortunate web design trend of minimalism, which was triggered less as a design preference and more as a response to slow download times. Webmasters adopted minimalism when, realising that mobile was attracting more visitors, they needed to change their mobile websites so that they would look good on a smaller screen as well as download at an acceptable rate within the limitations of mobile internet plans. Multimedia, video, personalisation, and calls to useful third-party tools all went out the window in an attempt at stripping down mobile sites to the basics. The result was mobile sites that downloaded faster but which little of value to the consumer. Consumers have become accustomed to web browsing on mobile, but at the same time they expect an engaging experience, plenty of content, and useful tools. And they expect it all to download quickly.
Over the Christmas season, retailers saw the writing on the wall, as retailers who took their online sales and mobile presences for granted lost out to newcomers with an appreciation of what ecommerce is supposed to be. This year we'll be looking for some surprises from newer, born-in-the-cloud retailers that built their sites from the beginning with a combination of performance and rich content in mind.