Internet Retailer - Mobile drives big results for a small retailer

Oct 13, 2011: Internet Retailer - Mobile drives big results for a small retailer
11.24% of web traffic to stems from mobile devices.
Ron Yates speaks at the Mobile Commerce Forum 2011.Ron Yates speaks at the Mobile Commerce Forum 2011.

Even smaller retailers must cater to mobile consumers, Ron Yates, president and director of e-commerce at Yates & Co., told attendees this week at the Mobile Commerce Forum in Houston. For Yates, the realization that he was leaving money on the table came two years ago when he attempted to navigate his own e-commerce site with his newly acquired iPhone. It wasn’t easy, and he knew customers would simply go to a competitor’s site.

Yates, who operates a bricks-and-mortar jewelry store in Modesto, CA, and has sold online since 2002, launched his initial mobile commerce site in August 2010. With limited resources, he focused the mobile site on a niche product category within the larger assortment of the e-commerce site and store: titanium wedding rings.

The strategy has proven successful. Traffic from mobile devices rose 51% from August 2010, soon after the mobile-optimized site was launched, to August 2011. During that time, conversions from mobile visitors increased 131% and revenue rose 101%.

Encouraged by those results, Yates & Co. redesigned its mobile site last month. In the five weeks since it debuted, the redesign has increased the conversion rate of mobile users by 250%, Yates reported. The new mobile site offers shoppers a richer, more customized experience with features such as improved navigation. Yates said 11.24% of his online traffic now comes from mobile devices.

He offered conference attendees some advice on designing their own mobile sites. Unlike the home page on a full-ecommerce site, the home page on a mobile site has one main job: displaying clearly identified calls to action, he said. Each retailer should design the site so that it’s easy for consumers to accomplish the tasks they are most likely to want to do on a mobile, which for some retailers might be researching or purchasing, and for others arranging store pickup or checking on order status.

Yates reminded retailers with mobile sites to scale graphic elements so as not to compete with calls to action on the home page and to avoid slowing page loads with heavy graphic files. He encouraged even small retailers to develop a mobile presence now.

“Take action, even if it’s small,” he said. “If I can do it, anyone can. It shows shoppers that you are serious about e-commerce, and that you are trying to make it easy for them. Or they will go someplace else.”