How to spot mobile performance issues before your customers
Stage 5: Retain
Dan Matthews
23rd October 2013
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Measure mobile site quality objectively and accurately

Mobile is the new mandatory for retailers. The challenge is shifting for organisations to find innovative ways to increase m-commerce as the popularity and functionality of smartphones continues to increase.

By Robert Castley, performance management expert at Keynote

This guide will look at how retailers need to approach m-commerce:

•    A one size fits all approach will not work; retailers need to consider different screen sizes, connection speeds and operating systems
•    Different page elements and content can dramatically impact mobile site performance, and one negative experience could drive a customer away for good
•    Testing and monitoring mobile site and application performance prior to launch and on an ongoing basis can help retailers ensure an optimal m-commerce experience for all customers, regardless of their location or device used

Increased number of devices, increased opportunity for retailers

The way consumers shop is continuing to evolve, and the popularity of smartphones and tablets is pushing this trend more and more towards mobile commerce.  People use different commerce channels in different ways, often researching on one device before making a purchase on another.

In order to ensure a seamless experience, retailers need to be able to provide a consistent offering across mobile, tablet and web sites in order to encourage customer loyalty across all three screens.

Creating an effective mobile retail offering isn’t just about scaling a website so it appears correctly on a different device; this is only the first step.   Retailers need to consider whether bespoke application, or mobile specific sites are the most suitable way to reach customers, or whether a combined approach would encourage increased sales.

It’s also essential to consider how dramatically devices change in size, functionality and capacity.  As a result, mobile content and its delivery must reflect these variations to provide a good user experience across the board.

Style versus substance

One of the key lessons to learn when developing a mobile strategy and building a site is to remember that what appeals to customers on a fixed line internet site, may have the opposite impact on a mobile site.  If we consider video content as an example, streaming videos requires an excellent internet connection if the content is to appear as it should.

If mobile users land on a page that contains video or flash content, it is far less likely to load quickly or correctly due to the size of the page and the number of elements.  This issue is compounded if the mobile customer is using the phone over 3G rather than WiFi.

As a result, while video content may be attractive and appealing on a web site, its existence could be extremely off-putting for a mobile user meaning that it would likely drive customers away rather than draw them further into the site.  This highlights the importance of only including site elements that are absolutely essential on a mobile site.

Testing and monitoring – prior to launch and on an ongoing basis

Testing a mobile site or application prior to launch is essential as it helps content providers to spot any performance issues before they have a negative impact on customers.  However, for retailers, websites change on an extremely regular basis with the addition of new offers or promotions, and all of these changes could have an affect on how content reaches the mobile customer.  Retailers must therefore understand how these changes impact real end-users or real devices on an ongoing basis.

Top tips for retailers looking to improve their mobile offerings are:

1.     Measure mobile site quality objectively and accurately – don’t rely on internal testing or anecdotal customer feedback
2.     Compare mobile site performance to best-in-class sites – performance data is irrelevant unless compared to top retail performers
3.     Measure the performance of content from third party providers / advertisers – customers will automatically blame the retailer, not the advertiser, if problems occur
4.     Test site performance and availability using the real browsers, devices and handsets that customers use
5.     Be ready to handle peak traffic in order to avoid losing sales – during busy shopping periods, sales and promotions sites need to be able to withstand a vastly increased number of site visitors.

For more information about complete mobile testing and monitoring solutions, visit Keynote.com.

Keynote has also launched a free tool – DeviceAnywhere Free – allowing companies to spot test their mobile website on different devices.  It gives users the opportunity to get an initial grasp on how a website performs on different real devices, and even enables companies to compare this to their competitors.

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Author: Dan Matthews
Dan Matthews is a business journalist and author with more than 10 years’ experience writing in print and online. He is also experienced in online marketing and web project development, having created and grown several successful websites.
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