January 23, 2014, 11:15 AM

A peek into the actions (and frustrations) of mobile shoppers

A new feature in web site recording service SessionCam shows retailers how mobile users navigate desktop and mobile web sites. The recordings replay mobile visitor gestures, such as pinch and zoom, enabling digital marketers to pinpoint usability issues that may impact sales.

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Many retailers likely wish they could be a fly on the wall while a smartphone or tablet user navigates their desktop, mobile or responsive design sites. What is frustrating the mobile shopper? Can she quickly find what she wants? Is the search bar easy for her to find and use? How does she navigate a desktop site on a mobile device differently than she would on a PC?

A new service from SessionCam, a unit of ServiceTick Ltd., aims to help. SessionCam enables a retailer's design, usability and analytics executives to watch a recording of how a consumer using a tablet or smartphone interacts with the merchant's desktop, mobile or responsive design site. Responsive design is a web design technique that enables retailers to create one site that adjusts to the size of the screen a consumer is using.

The retailer executives can use the insights they glean to then improve their current site or to gain insights into how to build a mobile or responsive site, SessionCam says. The recordings replay mobile gestures like pinch and zoom, tap, double tap, swipe, scroll, and tilt, and show exactly how a site is displayed on a mobile device, enabling digital marketers to pinpoint usability issues that may impact sales, SessionCam says.

To add the SessionCam mobile functionality to a site, a retailer adds a line of JavaScript to the site’s HTML code. Once added, SessionCam records mobile customer activity and lets site operators view these recordings via the SessionCam reporting dashboard.

“Visits to our web site from users with mobile devices represent an increasingly significant and valuable segment of our customer base,” says Mark Carlock, web analytics manager at C&J Clark International, the parent company of Clark’s shoe brand. “Using SessionCam, we’ve gained new visibility into the unique behavior of our mobile customers.” For example, he says from watching sessions on SessionCam he quickly discovered that forcing visitors to select a title (Mr., Mrs., Ms.) when registering was frustrating for mobile shoppers as they struggled with the drop-down menu on some devices.

Retailers also can identify common usability issues with desktop sites when accessed from mobile devices, such as small text fields, unresponsive buttons and tiny calls to action. Additionally, merchants can see conversation rates by mobile device type and compare these with non-mobile conversion rates. The service also enables retailers to generate heatmaps by mobile device type to see what consumers look at, and how that varies from one device to another.

"Many e-business managers are concerned that their web site is not properly configured for mobile visitors, even though they have invested heavily in mobile-specific web sites or adopted responsive design techniques that cater to smartphones and tablets,” says Kevin Goodings, CEO of SessionCam. “Some companies have not figured out how to test usability for mobile visitors, while others have not assessed conversion issues specifically for mobile devices. SessionCam can help these businesses quickly determine where the problems lie, what needs to be fixed, and how to unlock revenue.”

The service is free for one site and up to 500 recorded pages per month. After that, plans start at $10 per month for up to three sites and up to 1,000 recorded pages per month and increase to $275 per month for 100,000 recorded pages per month and up to 10 web sites. Larger enterprise plans with special pricing are also available.


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