Mobile is a key part of the shopping journey, both online and offline. 55 percent of Chinese consumers rate the smart phone as the most important device in making a purchase decision compared to only one-third of consumers in the US and UK. Mobile devices are also becoming the go to device for Internet access across Asia Pacific. According to an eMarketer survey, 90 percent of respondents said they accessed the Internet on their mobile devices each day, although this varies quite a bit from region to region.
For example, in Hong Kong, 93 percent of consumers stated they used their smart phones as often as a computer to access the Internet, compared to 63 percent in Australia and 68 percent in India. The reason for this usage contrast may be caused by the fact that Australia has a widespread adoption of desktops and higher tablet penetration so that consumers are more multi-device oriented; on the other hand, India has a low penetration of smart phones - just 125 million smart phone users in a country of over 1.2 billion. But these numbers will continue to climb. In each region, year after year, we see the number of smart phone users and the time they spend using their devices for Internet access continue to increase.
Mobile has always been tricky when it comes to attribution for retailers, while mobile traffic for many retailers is over 50 percent of total traffic, the conversion rate is often much lower than desktop. Here again we see that Asia leads worldwide for mobile share of retail transactions with Japan at 50 percent. Many other countries are showing great growth yet the average is still only 35 percent.
There are several factors that can cause this behavior but the most obvious is that often consumers are researching the products on their mobile devices and then making the purchase on a different device or in-store; attributing part of this conversion to mobile in most analytics or back-end systems can be difficult if not impossible. However, there are many other areas where retailers can improve the customer experience on mobile devices and increase conversation rates by taking advantage of new technologies.
Mobile customers want to visit a site that fits and works on their device properly, they do not want to have to pinch and zoom the screen to interact with menus or navigation. This might make retailers think that they need to invest in an app, but most consumers aren't willing to download an app the first few times they interact with the brand. An app really needs to provide something the mobile web can't provide to be useful such as a loyalty program or payment method. The most successful apps are used in combination with a quality mobile web experience for best results. It is also very difficult to build an app to suit the wide range of devices, form factors and operating systems available. For example, just in the Android device family there are now over 24,093 different device form factors.
So how should retailers address this multi device landscape and reach these very mobile first Asian consumers?
Responsive Web Design or RWD, as it is called, is a design approach to help provide this seamless experience across devices. From a technology standpoint, the RWD framework calls upon a combination of flexible grids, flexible layouts, fluid images, and intelligent use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) media queries. Media queries are CSS triggers you can use to set various breakpoints to change the look of your site based on a minimum or maximum screen size. In other words, you can make sure your site is consistent whether someone is viewing it on a device with a 200-pixel wide screen or an 800-pixel wide screen. By dynamically scaling images and page layouts, RWD eliminates the need for device users to pinch and zoom or resize to get the optimal view.
RWD enables you to deliver a seamless experience across many devices by making it appear as if your web pages were written exclusively for the device that's accessing your site. In this way, RWD helps circumvent the issues caused by device fragmentation - and even helps future-proof an online presence for devices that haven't yet been launched. The advantages of RWD also include a single code base, which translates into less maintenance, along with a single URL, which can improve SEO.
Responsive design is not without its limitations though. To have a successful implementation retailers need to make sure they do not negatively impact their site's performance. There are two main factors that retailers can address: image downloads and over downloading on the mobile device. The fluid nature of RWD will resize images to fit the device but the size of the image downloaded by the mobile device is still the same as the desktop which causes performance issues and similar with code and page elements that are hidden via CSS are still downloaded before they are hidden. I outlined these factors and how to solve the issue in an article I published at Innovative Retail Technologies, to read more click here. Similar to the problem with images, web page codes and elements that are hidden on a mobile device are still downloaded to the device, which will hurt performance. To address this issue, take a look at my presentation at CMO Disrupt Melbourne and you can view the full presentation here.
In order for retailers to meet the expectations of this fast growing Asian commerce market, it is key to have a mobile first strategy and embrace technologies such as RWD, RESS and image management to provide a seamless experience on any device.
Additional resources that might be helpful:
Read this Mobile Mandate eBook which shares intelligent optimization techniques that can help you deliver the mobile experience your users expect.
More resources on www.akamai.com/mobile