Don’t be lazy: Mobile always comes first

A couple of weeks ago I attended a few sessions at an ecommerce conference in Melbourne.

They were mostly informative and useful – especially a panel on how Country Road transformed its entire business into an omni-channel entity.

One of the sessions caught my interest more than others.

In a session on creating mobile strategies, there were plenty of statements made about the importance of mobile strategies. Nothing particularly new or groundbreaking, although important enough.

However, one statement caught me off-guard.

Graham Jackson, the chief executive of Hybris, said most companies tend to just build their desktop sites, and then base their mobile versions off of that. They strip away as many feature as they can in order to make a workable mobile platform.

That’s a mistake, he said.

Instead, businesses need to build their mobile versions before they go ahead and create the desktop version of a site.

(This argument ignores the possibility of companies using something more advanced like responsive design).

This is an intriguing argument, as it exposes the assumption among business owners that mobile is a “secondary” channel rather than a primary one. But for many businesses mobile traffic makes up 50% or more of all their visits. Of course, many wouldn’t even know it because they don’t tend to think about where they’re sourcing traffic.

Jackson’s argument hits on a larger truth. For many businesses, creating mobile, desktop or tablet versions isn’t made a priority. So designers just strip back elements of the site rather than focusing on what’s important for that specific category.

For example, many eCommerce companies would find a high amount of sales conversions on tablets, rather than mobile phones. It would make complete sense, then, to place elements of the site which emphasise purchasing on the tablet version.

The shopping cart and the placement of “buy now” buttons front and centre should be given priority in such a setup. But because many business owners don’t realise this, the tablet versions of their sites aren’t fulfilling their highest potential.

So it is with mobile. People don’t buy a lot on their phones, but instead the phones should be used as a touching point. Somewhere where the customer can gain information first before heading home and then buying on their tablet instead.

This isn’t just a technology issue. It’s far too easy for businesses to take an existing product, and then strip back features or add new ones. Why do you think Apple always emphasises in its product videos that it takes every product seriously, even if it’s just a different version of the existing product – like an iPad Mini?

Customers don’t want stripped-back versions or anything, or extra padding, either. They want a tailored experience that is suited to what they’re doing.

So don’t be lazy. Make the most of whatever medium you’re working in, and customers will reward you.

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