November 18, 2013, 3:00 PM

The top 100 e-retailers that make mobile purchasing easy

A team of mobile analysts goes screen by screen through 72 m-commerce sites.

Lead Photo

The chain retailer's m-commerce site scored highest on LightningBuy's 2013 Mobile Commerce Conversion Index.

Believe it or not, not all of the top 100 e-retailers have mobile commerce web sites. 72 of the top 100 e-retailers, as ranked by the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, have fully functional m-commerce sites optimized for smartphones, while 28 either have a mobile site that doesn’t enable purchasing, a mobile-optimized home page on top of the desktop site, or no mobile site or optimization whatsoever, finds a team of five mobile analysts at mobile checkout technology vendor LightningBuy.

Of the 72 merchants with m-commerce sites, only 12 offer what LightningBuy deems exceptional user interfaces for consumers using guest checkout: 1-800-Flowers.com, Abercrombie & Fitch, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Foot Locker, FTD, Hayneedle, L.L. Bean, Macy’s, Office Max, Toys ‘R’ Us, Vitacost.com and Victoria’s Secret. Going through guest checkout from start to finish, the average number of clicks (a single touch that moves a consumer to the next screen in the process) for all 72 merchants is five, the analysts say.

It’s important to analyze the guest checkout process because quite often shoppers on the mobile web, as opposed to a retailer-specific mobile app where a user regularly shops, will attempt to make a purchase after finding the best price or a special deal at a retailer they’ve never shopped or rarely shopped before, says Carissa Ganelli, founder and CEO of LightningBuy. The mobile vendor enables retailers to sell products directly in e-mails, search results, Facebook and Twitter pages, and display ads via window overlays that let consumers checkout on one concise screen without visiting a site or app.

LightningBuy’s new 2013 Mobile Commerce Conversion Index ranks m-commerce site purchasing paths by adding or deducting points from a starting point of 100. The team of five LightningBuy mobile analysts added or deducted points based on 20 criteria, including number of clicks, page load time, mobile wallet or PayPal acceptance, display of appropriate mobile keyboards (alphabet, numeral or e-mail) for data entry, and security assurances. The top 100 e-retailers with the best mobile guest checkout processes are Abercrombie & Fitch (112 score), Hayneedle (107), Fanatics (104), Office Depot (104) and Target Corp. (103), all boasting few screens required to purchase, fast page load times and excellent user interface principles, Ganelli says.

It is not a coincidence that both Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. offer one-touch mobile buying for regular customers and are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500. One-touch buying is the ultimate in mobile commerce, but only works for customers who have registered accounts with default payment and shipping information and who have enabled one-touch buying in account settings. Both Apple and Amazon.com fare poorly on the Mobile Commerce Conversion Index: Amazon forces shoppers wishing to buy to create an account, which adds steps to the purchase path and consequently costs index points, and Apple doesn’t even offer a mobile-optimized site, instead selling on smartphones only to registered customers through apps.

Elsewhere on the index, Ganelli singles out FTD.com because of a tool the florist offers on its m-commerce site home page called Find Flowers Fast.

“This clearly has mobile customer behavior in mind,” she says. “Instead of having the customer wade through a plethora of product categories only to find the product is unavailable in the geographic location where the flowers are to be delivered, the Find Flowers Fast feature starts with what flowers are available by geography and by date. The one challenge with this feature is that the customer is asked for the ZIP code and delivery date in order for the product search to begin and then has to re-enter the same information once a product has been selected. FTD should autofill the ZIP code and delivery date in the second screen based on the previous entry.”

To increase conversion and sales on m-commerce sites, it is imperative that merchants make it easy for a shopper to move from browsing to purchase and keep in mind how shoppers on smartphones use their devices, Ganelli says.

“Mobile commerce is very different from ordinary desktop commerce,” she says. “It’s all about the quickest path to purchase, and what works on a standard desktop often just does not translate to the mobile screen. You can’t just reduce the size of your desktop web site and expect mobile consumers to follow through. This is especially important during the holiday shopping season when consumers are bombarded with sales, images and offers that all work to distract them from making the purchase.”

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