February 17, 2011, 4:00 PM

A mobile site is a must—as are specific mobile goals, Music Factory Direct exec says

An IRWD speaker discusses his company’s mobile site design.

Lead Photo

Stephen Leitch, director of e-commerce at Music Factory Direct

Retailers should have a mobile presence, but they should have specific goals in mind before delving in, Stephen Leitch, director of e-commerce at Music Factory Direct told attendees during his presentation Wednesday at Internet Retailer’s Web Design & Usability Conference. Leitch discussed his company’s experience creating a mobile site in a session entitled “Step by step through a mobile site design.”

“Our goals were to offer a similar look and feel to our web site, to have the mobile site integrated with our e-commerce site, to have clear and fast-loading images and to have one-page checkout,” Leitch said.

Another top priority: Limited investment. Music Factory Direct ultimately engaged technology provider Vortx to build what Leitch called a skin of its e-commerce site, that is, a way of displaying information from the e-retail site on mobile phones, rather than creating a mobile site from scratch. That, he said, saved the company money and also time because when staff makes updates to the web site the mobile site automatically changes as well.

Despite clear goals, there still were bumps in the mobile development road for the retailer, Leitch said. For example, his company’s large logo didn’t quite work with smaller mobile screens, so the retailer had to adjust it to fit and render properly. The retailer also had trouble incorporating recommendations and cross-selling. “Upsells are a very big issue with us,” Leitch said. “We have very small margins. Right now, the pictures for mobile recommendations are small and they are not that great, but we are working on it,” Leitch said.

Music Factory Direct also had to make some cuts for mobile. For example, his team decided to leave rich artist pages and videos off the mobile site. “Don’t try to do everything,” Leitch advised attendees. “Ask yourself what’s important for mobile.”

Two things Music Factory Direct did deem important were integrating click-to-call and wish lists  in its mobile site.

“We have click-to-call right at the top,” Leitch said. “We want our customers to call so we can interact and get the sale.”

The retailer decided to integrate wish lists so that consumers could browse items while out and about and save them to access later from their PCs when they have more time and are ready to make a purchase.

Another important feature for mobile was the ability to reorder.  “We want our customers to be able to buy new guitar strings by hitting reorder on a mobile device and then be done,” Leitch said.

One tip Leitch shared with attendees is showing limited information about products in search results. That’s working well to help speed search results page loads for Music Factory Direct’s mobile site. If customers want to dig deeper and access more photos and descriptions about products, they can, but search results are simple so customers aren’t left waiting several seconds to get the basics.

Despite some hiccups and having to make some tough choices, Music Factory Direct’s mobile investment is paying off. Less than one year after the web-only retailer launched its mobile site, 5% of total online visitors now come from a mobile device and mobile sales are 5% of total sales. The bounce rate for the retailer’s mobile site is 10% less than its e-commerce site. A bounce is a visitor arriving at a web site and leaving after only one page view. Further, average sales via mobile are higher than sales on the traditional PC site.

Another tidbit: Consumers are spending more time on the mobile site than on the PC site. Leitch said many shoppers are browsing on mobile and then purchasing later via their PCs. The total number of page views per shopper on the mobile site is 22% higher than that on the e-commerce site, he added.

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