Mobile site design forces tough choices

The m-commerce site is a high note for Music Factory Direct, but it required setting priorities.

Katie Evans

Less than one year after Music Factory Direct launched its mobile site, 5% of online visitors come from a mobile device and mobile sales represent 5% of sales. Average sales via mobile are higher than sales on the traditional PC site and consumers are spending more time on the mobile site than on the established e-commerce site. The total number of page views per shopper on the mobile site is 22% higher than  on the e-commerce site.

But none of those accomplishments came easily, Stephen Leitch, director of e-commerce at Music Factory Direct, told attendees during his presentation last week at Internet Retailer’s Web Design & Usability Conference.

For example, his company’s large logo didn’t quite work with smaller mobile screens, so the retailer had to adjust it to fit and render properly. The retailer also had trouble incorporating recommendations and cross-selling. “Upsells are a very big issue with us,” Leitch said. “We have very small margins. Right now, the pictures for mobile recommendations are small and they are not that great, but we are working on it,” Leitch said.

Music Factory Direct also had to make some cuts for mobile. For example, his team decided to leave rich artist pages and videos off the mobile site. “Don’t try to do everything,” Leitch advised attendees. “Ask yourself what’s important for mobile.”

Two things Music Factory Direct did deem important were integrating click-to-call and wish lists  in its mobile site.

“We have click-to-call right at the top,” Leitch said. “We want our customers to call so we can interact and get the sale.”

The retailer decided to integrate wish lists so that consumers could browse items while out and about and save them to access later from their PCs when they have more time and are ready to make a purchase.

Another important feature for mobile was the ability to reorder. “We want our customers to be able to buy new guitar strings by hitting reorder on a mobile device and then be done,” Leitch said.

One tip Leitch shared with attendees is showing limited information about products in search results. That’s working well to help speed search results page loads for Music Factory Direct’s mobile site. If customers want to dig deeper and access more photos and descriptions about products, they can, but search results are simple so customers aren’t left waiting several seconds to get the basics.

Another tip Leitch  shared to help retailers limit their mobile investment is to build what Leitch called a skin of its e-commerce site, that is, a way of displaying information from the e-retail site on mobile phones, rather than creating a mobile site from scratch. Music Factory Direct ultimately engaged technology provider Vortx to help it do that. The approach, Leitch said, saved the company money and also time because when staff makes updates to the web site the mobile site automatically changes as well.


IRWD 2011 case study, mobile site design, MusicFactoryDirect, Stephen Leitch, Vortx