November 1, 2011, 12:00 AM

To boost mobile conversions, retailers can learn from Foot Locker, Lowe's and REI

Many retailers with mobile commerce sites are failing to present mobile-optimized pages to consumers landing on mobile sites from Internet searches and social media links, a new report says.

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Many retailers have built mobile commerce sites, hoping to cater to the growing number of consumers accessing the web via smartphones. But many of those merchants are failing to present mobile-optimized pages to consumers coming to their sites via search engines or popular shopping apps, says Brian Klais, founder and president of mobile commerce consulting and technology firm Pure Oxygen Labs LLC. The firm recently completed a study of the mobile sites of the largest 100 e-retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Many times when shoppers on mobile devices click a link through a web search or on one of the popular mobile apps from Google, Facebook or Twitter, Klais says, they land on a page designed to be accessed from a desktop or laptop computer, instead of being redirected to a mobile page designed to be viewed on the small screen of a mobile device.

"Leading a smartphone user to a desktop page kills your conversion rate," he says. "Retailers have to account for all of these mobile search and mobile social users that are touching links designed to connect to desktop e-commerce sites, links that are created for desktop search and social sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter."

Klais points to five merchants that excel in directing mobile shoppers to pages from their conventional e-commerce sites that have been optimized for mobile devices. At Foot Locker Inc., Lowe's Cos. Inc. and Recreational Equipment Inc., 100% of a random sample of 100 e-commerce pages have m-commerce counterparts, the Pure Oxygen study found. The figure is 98% for Staples Inc. and 97% for FTD Group Inc. Most e-retailers in the top 100 fell far short in the study, registering percentages in the single digits.

"A lot of brands think it's enough to have a mobile commerce site, but are not thinking of customers coming to them on smartphones through Google, Facebook and Twitter apps that connect to content with desktop page URLs, not mobile URLs," says Klais, whose firm conducted the study with a Mobile Site Analyzer tool that it offers for free to merchants.

Some retailers put a blanket redirect on all e-commerce site page links, which sends a consumer to the mobile commerce site home page, where the consumer has to start shopping all over again, he says.

A better approach, Klais says, is building a mobile commerce site on the m-dot domain structure (for example, m.Retailer.com). When all e-commerce site www-dot web pages are in perfect alignment with all mobile m-dot pages, it becomes easier for a retailer to redirect a consumer from an e-commerce page to an m-commerce page, regardless of where the consumer is clicking from, he says.

The Pure Oxygen study found that Foot Locker, Lowe's, REI, Staples and FTD all built their m-commerce sites using the m-dot domain structure throughout, hence their high scores in the study.

bill@verticalwebmedia.com

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