Cyber Monday Lessons: Apple Can Get Away with Outdated Mobile Sites…But You Can’t

Yesterday, I connected to Apple’s website on my iPhone, only to discover that the undisputed leader of all things mobile didn’t have a mobile-friendly website. Well to be fair, Apple does offer a native app for purchases on its Apple Store, but it’s ironic, isn’t it? Especially considering Apple helped to usher in the mobile craze dominating this week’s Cyber Monday stories.

The Wall Street Journal reported that online sales were brisk, showing a 30 percent increase from last year. Interestingly, early reports suggest that this year shoppers using a mobile device represented 24 percent of site traffic and 16 percent of all online sales over the four-day weekend. That’s a huge increase.

It’s no big surprise that when people can avoid the hassles of traffic, parking and long-lines associated with traditional shopping, we see an uptick in online sales. But many have been surprised by how quickly the way people shopped online would change. By 2020, when we think of Cyber Monday, most people will be purchasing on their handset.

Mobile shifting shopping paradigm

The sharp increase in mobile commerce should put all business-to-consumer (B2C) merchants on notice that they need a mobile-friendly site.

In a recent Google survey, 67 percent of people said that they are more likely to buy from a site that is mobile-friendly. Conversely, 61 percent said that if they don’t see what they want, they move quickly to a competitor’s site. Finally, people said that if a site didn’t work well with their mobile device, it was an indication that the company didn’t care about their business.

Bottom line is that any B2C merchant conducting business online needs to offer a native app, a mobile site or even a responsive web design site — or run the risk of losing customers.

Angry lines, abandoned shopping carts

Nobody likes to be stuck in line, whether you’re waiting in Target or in a web store. Mobile-friendly also means not getting bogged down by slow-loading web pages or getting stuck in slow moving “checkout lines.

In fact, the average shopping session length was down 10 percent during this past week of online shopping, signaling that online shoppers just want to get in and get out. Merchants need to be constantly testing the end-user experience for users on all types of devices and from wherever they are accessing your site.

Web application performance tools can automate the required end-user experience testing of web apps and monitor key business processes, like the time it takes for an online check-out. They should compare the mobile experience versus the non-mobile experience. If bounce rates are high for mobile users compared to non-mobile users, it is very likely the business is losing customers due to a bad mobile experience.

Apples and oranges

When I went looking for information about Apple on my iPhone, the process was so frustrating that I finally gave up. It’s almost 2013; mobile users don’t want to pan and scroll around to view each page. I jumped over to Samsung’s site, where it automatically recognized that I was using an iPhone 5 and directed me to its mobile site. If I were a prospective customer searching for product information and not ready to buy — you just lost my business.

Sure, in this case, Apple prioritized its mobile store experience while neglecting its corporate site experience. Arguably not the end of the world. But this just illustrates how fragmented the mobile experience still is — even for the king of the mobile universe. And with the number of mobile shoppers doubling and tripling each year, it’s a problem that online merchants can’t afford to ignore much longer.

Thankfully, the majority of online merchants have figured out that traffic to their site is essential to sales, but many have not yet realized that the user experience is equally as important. While Apple can get away with it, don’t assume you can too.

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About the Author: Shannon Lewis

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