The holidays are a critical time for mobile. In a recent blog, Adobe predicts that sales from mobile devices will rise 110% to account for 21% of all online sales. Two-thirds of those mobile sales will come through tablets, and the other third through smartphones. Showrooming is the trend du jour in retail making mobile a big part of the brick and mortar experience.
Big retailers should have prepared themselves for the onslaught of holiday shopping by now, but have they learned from mobile mistakes of the past? We did some research on how top retailers fared before the start of the shopping season from testing functionality, to visual effects, to maximizing the consumer experience. What we noticed is that with proper mobile testing, retailers could have made changes to their mobile sites to ensure positive and efficient mobile shopping experiences this holiday season.
Here’s a quick glimpse of what we saw:
Macy’s – Optimizing for Android?
It seems that Macy’s is optimizing their site for Android users. Comparing iPhone 4S to Android using the HTC EVO 4G LTE showed that font sizes differ on the devices with the larger screen Android having smaller fonts. The EVO appears to show a full screen while on Android Devices, the menu was only partially visible.
In addition: The Macy’s site was not able to completely download on the BlackBerry Torch and was slower to load on the HTC Titan 2 (Windows OS).
Barnes & Noble – Location, location, location
In addition to getting product information, it is critical that shoppers know where and when they can get their holiday gifts. We tested the Store Locator function and received a page that delivered expected location results. However the Store Hours section was presented very poorly making it difficult to read– and this poor presentation is consistent across all selected devices.
Additional observations include:
Barnes & Noble was able to download and render the same content on both the iPhone and iPhone 4S. We tested the home page on the BlackBerry Torch 4G and noticed issues with the Search For: box and “go” button straying from the background grey. The Torch store locator failed to produce any results.
The HTC EVO 4G (Android) displayed the home page well but once the search was complete you could continue to search, but it was a bit difficult to determine with how to use the search field. Not bad… but not ideal.
The HTC Titan 2 (Windows) also produced the correct store locator results. Here however, the search fields are completely blank and useless for anyone needing to continue their search.
Target seems to be optimizing their mobile site for the iPhone homepage experience. The HTC EVO 4G (Android) and the HTC Titan 2 (Windows) frame the home page quite differently minimizing the impact of the title copy.
We also looked at Target on the iPad 3 and see that they probably haven’t been testing on a tablet and are content to deliver their desktop site to a tablet on good faith.
When comparing the desktop to the tablet there’s an entire column section feeding a skyscraper ad on the website that is a blank field on the tablet. Finally, they’ve used the target “bullseye” logo as a holiday ornament on the website and tablet, a concept completely lost on the mobile devices.
Finding a target near you? We tested the store locator feature and the “Use my current location” button did not work on any device. For the HTC Titan 2 the webpage send a message that the browser does not support geolocation.
Nextag – Failing to search …for a good deal
Search is an essential holiday function. The Nextag mobile home page is quite simple yet it seems different with each device we selected. On the iPhone (and iPhone 4S) you can either shop by category or search. The instructions within the search field are cut off so you cannot read the entire line. We searched for “iPhone” and were able to display results for 3 or 12 items found.
The Nextag home page on the BlackBerry Torch 4G seemed like an older WAP page with underlined links. We tried to search but the feature did not respond.
On the HTC EVO 4G LTE (Android) the home page was much like the iPhone but the bottom 40% of the screen was not used. The search produced expected results but even then did not fill the entire page.
The HTC Titan 2 (Windows) has a home page that was similar to the BlackBerry with underlined hyperlinks. This device produced expected results similar to the iPhone in a single color text, unlike the iOS models.
Finally, the iPad 3 experience seemed just like FireFox and search produced expected results. However, we see that the banner add was cut off at the bottom making for poor presentation and displeasing any potential advertiser.
Finally we looked at the popular shoe site, Zappos. For the iPhone (1 & 4S) and iPad 3 users Zappos presents a splash screen promoting their app. Users must navigate through the ad to get to the browser home page.
BlackBerry Torch 4G users were sent to a desktop version of the homepage– text and objects far too small and unreadable to provide any value or continue further.
HTC Titan 2 (Windows OS) users received a home page much like the iPhone users but without the splash page. There was a promo field at the top for the Android app.
Zappos fared worst with the HTC EVO 4G (Android). The content delivered to the site was not sized correctly for the screen. Multiple banners in rotation at the top were viewable simultaneously while the activity buttons were limited to the center third of the screen. If tested, this is one error that Zappos would have caught.
Last but not least, Zappos had an issue with rendering the top registration bar for the iPad 3, which is abruptly cut off only partially displaying “My Favorites”. The main navigation bar displays completely but lacks the few pixels of spacing needed on the right side of the page as found in a FireFox desktop browser.
Early testing of both mobile websites in preparation for the holiday season would have prepared these top retailers for the judgmental mobile shopper this season. With holiday shopping looming and ready to begin in just days, it seems that these top retailers are already running into hurdles that may affect their holiday sales goals.