August 21, 2014, 5:10 PM

QVC, eBags and Foot Locker offer the best m-commerce sites

The E-tailing Group’s 5th Annual Mobile Mystery Shopping Study examined 50 retail web sites on smartphones. The two leading sites are responsive design. Coincidence?

Lead Photo

At No. 5, QVC is the biggest merchant in the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500 to switch to responsive design, seen here on a smartphone.

Seven of 50 leading retailers in mobile commerce offer excellent web site shopping experiences on smartphones, according to The E-tailing Group’s 5th Annual Mobile Mystery Shopping Study, which scored sites on a wide variety of factors on a 100-point scale where 80 and above is excellent. The retailers are QVC (84.17), eBags Inc. (83.33), Foot Locker Inc. (83.00), American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (82.75), The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. (81.75), Staples Inc. (80.25) and Sephora USA Inc. (80.25).

The average score for all 50 merchants studied is 71.60. 8% of the retailers in the study offer excellent sites, 6% strong (75-79.99), 24% good (70-74.99), 22% average (65-69.99), 22% room for improvement (60-64.99) and 18% subpar (below 60).

The top two sites in The E-tailing Group’s 5th Annual Mobile Mystery Shopper Study both use responsive design, a design technique that, generally, enables a retailer to build one site that serves desktops, tablets and smartphones, with content and shopping features optimized for each device. But the technique is evolving quickly and retailers have deployed responsive design sites in differing fashions. Both QVC and eBags offer responsive design sites, and both are featured prominently in the overview story inthe newly published 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500. QVC is No. 5 and eBags is No. 194 in the Mobile 500.

The driving force behind QVC switching to responsive design was to ensure a consistent customer experience regardless of device, especially with 38% of sales stemming from mobile, says Alex Miller, senior vice president of digital commerce at QVC.

“The fragmentation of screen sizes continues to grow, and as a company that creates a lot of content around shopping, we needed a platform strategy that elevated that content, making content easy to access across all different screen sizes and devices,” Miller says. “Responsive doesn’t make that simple; for example, there still is upfront planning when we design new features so we know how something will look on a 19-inch monitor and a 4-inch screen. But responsive does allow us to leverage our team and workflow in a more sustainable way to support all the different screen sizes to come, whether they’re interactive TVs or watches.”

The E-tailing Group explored the 50 sites in the study, going through the checkout process up to the point of order submission, evaluating sites based on 174 metrics through looking at six tasks consumers are likely to perform on a smartphone: connecting to a physical store, visiting mobile home and category pages, searching for a product, researching a product, buying a product, and seeking customer service.

The results of the study show that responsive design is indeed an effective way to design retail web sites for viewing on smartphones, says Lauren Freedman, president of research and advisory firm The E-tailing Group.

“At the end of the day, it’s about speed, a user experience tailored to the device in hand, and a well-merchandised shopping visit,” Freedman says. “Retailers especially need to remember to provide a store locator with comprehensive information, keep usability top of mind, enhance product pages with comprehensive product information and recommendations and photos, and streamline the checkout process with a minimal number of steps.”

For information on a free webinar on the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, click here.

Follow Bill Siwicki, editor of the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500 and managing editor,mobile commerce, at Internet Retailer, at @IRmcommerce.

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