ECommerce & Responsive Web Design

The good news is that mobile traffic tends to increase whether you build your site to welcome that traffic or not – it should come as no surprise that mobile usage is trending up. If you’ll allow us a Field of Dreams reference, the players have already shown up, and they’re trying to play ball in your cornfield.

Time to Build the Ballfield

If you’re lucky, some of your visitors will even make do with your cornfield. As a case in point, one of our clients was seeing 21% of their total site revenue coming in from mobile devices (phones) even though the site had never been optimized for mobile use.

Statistics can be misleading.

As with traffic, mobile transactions tend to increase on their own as well. This was definitely the case here, but even the untrained eye could tell this particular site had plenty of mobile usability issues. The site was ready for a full redesign, one that considered all devices.

This isn’t a full case study, so we’ll speed past the design requirements and goals and leave you with an overview: we redesigned the site to be responsive.

Fast forward again to sixty days after we launched the new site, and mobile revenue had increased 107.65%.

In other words, mobile revenue had more than doubled within 60 days. In this same period of time, mobile revenue as a percentage of total sales grew from 21% to 29%.

Let’s slow this back down. It’s fair to look at desktop losing share to mobile and wonder if growth in one channel isn’t simply offset by decline in another. It’s fair, but we have yet to see it.

At sixty days post-redesign, the site’s total sales had gone up 24.4%. So, while mobile is indeed outpacing other channels, overall totals are still increasing. Mobile does not cannibalize desktop.

That growth from 21% to 29% is interesting for two reasons.

First, mobile revenue as a % of total sales looks beyond any possible spikes in site traffic due to launch PR, seasonal activity, etc. We can see mobile performance regardless of what outside factors are doing to the baseline. Even at 21% of total sales, mobile was underperforming.

Second, 29%! Twenty-nine percent of all online sales for this site are coming from a mobile phone. And in sixty days, revenue from that channel had more than doubled. There should be no question on the effectiveness of responsive design in ecommerce except, “How soon can we do it?” or, “How soon can we improve it?”.

You Talking to Me?

It’s been a while since we’ve had to try to convince anyone about the benefits of mobile optimization. The reason for posting these statistics is more to illustrate just how far we’ve come in a short period of time. To a certain extent, we’re following the herd, and it’s migrating to mobile. In that regard, the upside to mobile optimization is continuing to climb. Refactoring your site’s small view means improving the experience for a significant and growing population.

At the same time, however, overall traffic statistics continue to climb. Mobile First shouldn’t be misinterpreted to mean Desktop Second or Mobile Branched. A flexible site is a better site, and many of the tactics you can deploy to improve your site for small screens will do the same for large. Responsive Web Design is simply becoming Web Design.

Maybe some of this sounds familiar. In 2013, we took a look at the positive impact responsive design had on O’Neill Clothing. If our six week comparisons didn’t move you, we now have a full year of data (2013 over 2012). Mobile revenue increased 218.41% year over year.