December 11, 2013, 3:20 PM

Responsive design boosts City Sports’ sales via phones 145%

The retailer’s new mobile site adapts to all phone screen sizes and also to the way a device is held. The conversion rate for shoppers on phones has jumped 30%.

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A consumer who picks up his tuxedo from his local tailor only to find the waist two inches too big and the sleeves an inch too short probably won’t wind up being a repeat customer. The same goes for a consumer visiting a mobile site that’s not designed to fit his phone—48% of shoppers on smartphones are less likely to return to an ill-fitting mobile site that makes shopping awkward, according to a new poll by m-commerce technology provider Mobiquity Inc. Unfortunately for City Sports, an apparel and accessories e-retailer, many of its visitors on phones were getting an ill-fitting mobile site.

City Sports switched to a new mobile commerce site in June and since then feature phone and smartphone sales, conversions and time on site have increased, particularly on Cyber Monday, says Ryan Peters, e-commerce manager for the retailer.

The new mobile site, which took about one month to create and was built by m-commerce technology vendor UniteU, uses responsive design principles that enable it to adapt to the precise size of a shopper’s phone screen and change layout based on how the visitor is holding the phone. For example, when a consumer decides to tilt the device from portrait view into landscape view, the site will automatically configure to display the site horizontally, Peters says.

Responsive design usually is used to create a single site, with one code base and one set of web content, that automatically changes the design of a page to fit any screen, from smartphones and tablets to PCs and smart TVs. City Sports used responsive design similarly, but focused on improving how its mobile commerce site renders pages to fit any mobile phone screen rather than literally any screen. City Sports serves its conventional e-commerce site to consumers on PCs and tablets.

Before the change to the new responsive mobile site, City Sports had a mobile site optimized for older and smaller smartphones that did not dynamically change when a shopper tilted her phone from vertical to horizontal. That static experience led City Sports to wind up sending visitors with newer versions of smartphones with larger screens, for example the iPhone 5 or 5s, to the retailer’s desktop site, Peters says.

“Before this change we often just sent mobile shoppers to our regular desktop site, as conversion rates were slightly higher than those of the standard mobile template,” Peters says. “We made sure that all standard or small-screen devices would be directed to the mobile site. However, we felt that large screen devices, like the majority of new smartphones, had screens large enough where displaying the normal desktop site would suffice.”

That, however, has changed after the dramatic mobile sales increase the retailer experienced since switching to the responsive mobile site. Now City Sports directs all phone traffic to the new site, Peters says, and sales via feature phones and smartphones have climbed 145% between when it launched the new site in June and the beginning of December 2013 compared to the same period a year earlier. Mobile phone traffic has increased 60% to 70% in the same time period and the mobile phone conversion rate is up 30%.

The sales increase was even more pronounced for Cyber Monday 2013 compared to the same holiday shopping day in 2012. Mobile phone sales grew 254% and orders climbed 222%, Peters says.

Shoppers are also staying longer now when visiting City Sports from their mobile phones, Peters says. Visitors to the mobile commerce site spent 25% longer on average with the new site between June and the beginning of December 2013 compared with the same period a year earlier; average page views per visit increased 33%.

“The biggest difference is the amount of time customers are spending on the site,” Peters says. “One of the issues I think with the former mobile site was that it restricted customers to shopping and navigating in one specific way.  The responsive design allows the consumer to browse on their phone the way that they would regularly view any other site.” 

City Sports is No. 757 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide.

 

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