Recently, I decided to purchase tickets to a quaint local theater as a gift for my wife's birthday. True to form, the idea came only a few days prior to the big day (better late than never). I was out and about and luckily able to find the theater's website on my iPhone browser. Though the theater's site was not mobile ready, I was able to zoom on the pages and find the proper navigation links.
For my aging eyes and stubby fingers, it was a pain.
I eventually selected two tickets for the only show that Sunday, a matinee. I maneuvered through the checkout process and entered my credit card and other payment information. As soon as I selected "Complete Purchase", the site returned an error and kicked me back to the main page. All of my information was lost.
Ten minutes of my life I will never get back.
Instead of enduring the headache and trying again, I decided to take my chances and buy tickets at the door on the day of the event. As you might expect, when Sunday rolled around, we were both feeling unmotivated for the theater and instead opted for a long, casual walk and dinner.
Good exercise for us, but a lost sale for the theater.
Clearly, had the site been smart device capable, the sale could have been transacted when I was ready and willing to do so. It made me wonder how much revenue is lost due to these avoidable errors. More so, how many customers in general never shop because a site is not mobile compatible and difficult to use?
The debate about the level of importance of a mobile ready site rages, with opponents insisting that a mobile strategy deflects resources and should be secondary to a company's website strategy. I believe this argument is fundamentally flawed, as current market trends are such that the two should be considered one and the same.
Not convinced? Consider this:
Online retail sales hit a robust $1 trillion worldwide in 2012 and are estimated to continue growing 10 percent per year through 2014. By 2014, analysts estimate that online shopping will account for 8 percent of total retail revenue in the U.S. and influence 53 percent of consumer purchases. While "online purchases" have historically meant purchases made through a computer browser, all businesses need to understand the impact that sophisticated smart devices are having.
According to ComScore, there is an estimated 133.7 million smartphone users in the U.S. This makes up only 57 percent of all cell phone users, so there is ample room for growth. Maybe more staggering is the fact that the market for smartphones hit 1 billion users worldwide in 2012, and experts believe that this number will double within three years.
When you look beyond smartphones to all Internet capable devices, in the U.S. alone, there are over half a billion devices in service. These include computers, smart phones, tablets, game systems, Blue Ray DVDs, and streaming media desktops. Led by the sale of tablets, most of these devices are capable of browsing Internet pages, so having a site that is compatible is not only useful but also critical.
Simple and intuitive navigation is key for a successful mobile site. Too much information or difficult navigation on a smart phone or tablet can make for a bad experience and more than likely turn away likely consumers. These days, the same strategy should be applied to websites. Keeping things simple and providing easy navigation and useful, pertinent content will bring more eyeballs to your site and, more importantly, encourage them to purchase.
It is no secret that retailers are having difficulty competing with online competition. While some retailers have learned to adapt, they still need to adopt and prioritize mobile strategies. Failing to do so will put them at an enormous disadvantage to those who do.
Interestingly, as the rumored iWatch gets closer to becoming a reality, one has to wonder how websites will again have to adapt. I don't know the answer to this, but I do know that an iWatch would make a much nicer gift than theater tickets ... and my birthday is next.
How is your company adapting to the increase use of mobile devices? Please share below.