March 25, 2013, 10:00 AM

Analytics drive the redesign of Coastal Contacts’ m-commerce site

The result is a 50% increase in its smartphone conversion rate, the e-retailer reports.

In late 2011, web analytics drove web-only retailer Coastal Contacts to build a mobile commercesite as it saw a steadily increasing number of visitors browsing its e-commerce site on smartphones.

Fast forward a year and the contact lens and eyewear e-retailer was again digging into its analytics, this time looking for ways it could improve its m-commerce site, built and maintained with m-commerce technology vendor Mobify.

“When we launched the mobile site we partnered with Mobify and relied on some of their experience and expertise and on our own thoughts to create a very good mobile site for the first crack at it, knowing we would come back to it,” says Braden Hoeppner, vice president of web sales at Coastal Contacts. “The intent was never to launch a site that was perfect from the get-go. We went in with our eyes wide open, knowing that we don’t know everything about mobile, so we needed to start transacting and find out what the customer wanted to do. Mobile 2.0 was always on our mind; let’s build, analyze, then go back and tweak. Analytics played a key role in evaluating everything we do.”

One of the biggest changes was made to the top-level navigation. Coastal Contacts determined after looking at how customers interacted with the navigational elements that the e-retailer was presenting the mobile customer with too many options all at once. The merchant offered a vast array of refinements to choose from in order to get to a page with products that closely matched customers’ needs. This style of navigation was stalling customers right from the start.

“Mobile phones keep getting faster and give us the ability to make navigating the site faster and easier to get to the next step,” Hoeppner says. “Now navigation is, am I interested in contacts or glasses, next I choose metal or plastic, and so on. Let’s get them into the glasses section so they can narrow things down in steps.”

Another big change driven by analytics was made to product pages—namely, where Coastal Contacts placed calls to action. The way the e-retailer was stacking information pushed many of the calls to action below the fold and off the screen for some smartphones. Fewer shoppers were adding products to their carts in these instances, analytics revealed.

“Analytics helped us hone in on those devices and screen sizes, which often weren’t the screens we were looking at in our office,” Hoeppner says. Coastal Contacts then changed its product pages to feature the Add to Cart button in a more prominent position.

Today, 20-30% of web traffic stems from mobile devices and they account for 15-20% of web sales, the e-retailer reports. Hoeppner says since launching the second generation of its m-commerce site late last year the company has seen a 50% increase in its smartphone conversion rate.

Hoeppner declines to reveal what it cost to redesign the m-commerce site. Mobify says it can cost a retailer between $100,000 and $150,000 for a thorough m-commerce site redesign, focusing on improving conversion and ensuring the site works well on popular new mobile devices. Hoeppner says work on the site will continue.

“The key thing is to keep the process more of an evolution than a revolution,” he says. “The 2.0 site was us learning a bunch of stuff and deciding to tackle a bunch of issues at the same time. We measure ROI based on the impact the changes have on the conversion rate. Going forward it will be a continuous investment in the platform, watching our data to see where customers have problems and building things to meet customers’ needs.”

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