I was recently invited to be a guest speaker at the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Forum in Chicago. This was the first time Internet Retailer conducted a “Mobile-Specific” event and it was very well attended by both big-brands and small/mid sized etailers. Many companies do not yet have a Mobile Site or App in place, while there are some pioneers really paving the way. Ultimately it’s up to user adoption and usage to determine how important the investment is for your company.
What amazed me most at the show was how unique and diverse each company’s position was (or better yet, should be) within the Mobile space. This is an area which is definitely not one size fits all. So crafting a custom approach to Mobile for your business should be on the strategy for this quarter or next.
There are a few things to consider:
* Mine your website analytics data to learn about the incoming referral traffic from mobile devices onto your current website. Look at the volume of visitors, and their behavior on the site, but also analyze the type of devices they are using to reach your site. Understanding what content YOUR customers or prospects are using while on the go is essential in developing a sound mobile site strategy.
* Resources (financial, personnel and technology) are a major factor in determining how you will approach mobile for your business. If you are not able to maintain and update several mobile sites, then don’t consider serving unique versions of a mobile site for each smartphone Operating System (OS). If your current budget does not support all the functionality you want from a mobile site, consider a modified approach of limited information – that presents well – on multiple devices.
* Although it may be possible to include all of the information and functionality from your website onto your mobile site – is it necessary? Will smartphone users really want or even need all of the information on a small screen? Is the average mobile user comfortable enough to perform a conversion on the small screen, especially in a modified environment? A mobile website does NOT need to reflect everything from your main site and realistically shouldn’t. Make a good impression and provide an easy user experience, even for the basic information someone may seek.
* Understand that this space is dynamic and mobile devices are rapidly being updated and enhanced, which impacts how your mobile site will display. New devices are introduced frequently, which can have major shifts in usage. (i.e. Android is now growing at a faster adoption rate than iPhone)
* Are iPads Mobile? That is the burning question for the Ipad and likely other new tablets to enter the market soon (Samsung and Blackberry). Although the iPad doesn’t have the space restrictions of a smartphone, it can still pose problems rendering your main website. Unfortunately, any flash or flash video will not render on this device, so an alternative is needed. Typically, your mobile site is designed for a smaller screen, so using “sniffer” detection from the main site, would allow you to serve an alternative version of the main site just to iPad users. Maximize your screen space but be wary of native language obstacles.
Please let me know if you would like to have us critique your Mobile Site or a demonstration on how your existing website looks to smartphone users.