April 11, 2013, 2:09 PM

How Threadless better outfits its mobile site

The T-shirt retailer figures how to better manage its mobile content.

Lead Photo

Threadless.com, a T-shirt retailer that creates shirts based on artist designs voted upon by Threadless community members, had a bit of a mobile problem.

While the retailer launched a mobile-optimized version of its site in 2011, sometimes elements on the PC web site still didn’t appear correctly on smartphones.

For example, the e-commerce home page of Threadless.com presents scrolling tiles that contain new T-shirt designs and promote new artists. One such tile contains a call to action “Shop Guys or Shop Girly.” When that tile page renders on the retailer’s mobile site, however, the call to action is missing, says Todd Lido, marketing director for Threadless.

To quickly swap out images, text or other features on its mobile site when they are not rendering correctly, Threadless, No. 356 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, recently began using a service from personalization, testing and analytics vendor Monetate Inc. called ActionBuilder.

Using ActionBuilder, Lido can fix this and other similar issues by logging into his Monetate account and bringing up the mobile page with the problem. Threadless can then hover over the content, such as a text or image that isn’t rendering well, and insert a mobile-optimized replacement.

“You mouse over the section you want to manipulate and you have options to add something different,” Lido says. “I can replace a slide on the mobile site that is missing the call to action with another one that has it.” Lido says he just noticed that particular issue this morning and it will only take minutes to fix.

“Even with a mobile-optimized site you can’t always anticipate how new content will translate onto mobile devices,” Lido says. “We use ActionBuilder to quickly add new content sections and swap out content that’s not working for mobile users. The tool provides great flexibility to create new placements in rapid fashion.”

Threadless has been using Monetate for two years for testing and analytics across its e-commerce and mobile sites. However, it just began using the new ActionBuilder service, so Lido declined to provide data on how the product is impacting his company’s bottom line. He does say, though, that the product is already saving Threadless time correcting features that don’t render properly on smartphones.

Beyond the new ActionBuilder product, Threadless uses Monetate to conduct A/B tests of pages on its e-commerce and mobile sites to see which perform the best.  Monetate shows data including the conversion rate and bounce rate—that is how often a user leaves after visiting just one page—for each version, Lido says.

“When we are running a test, Monetate makes it very clear which version is performing best,” Lido says. “We can easily see, say, that a conversion rate is 10% better with one version over the other.”

Monetate charges a monthly fee for its services based on traffic, customer service level and the Monetate products a client selects.

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