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Fashion brands’ mobile faux pas: Unoptimized sites deter sales

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September 8, 2014

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One out of five top fashion brands lacks a mobile optimized Web site, including Adidas’ subsidiary Reebok and clothing retailer American Apparel, according to a new study.

The Fashion on Phones study, completed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, lends concern to these brands’ levels of mcommerce, which could be threatened due to a lack of mobile optimization. As mobile conversion continues to grow, it is crucial for brands to be on board.

“More than half of US Internet traffic now comes from phones and tablets, and that percentage is only likely to continue to grow as these devices become increasingly the hub of and remote control for people’s lives,” said Joe Laszlo, senior director of the mobile marketing center of excellence at Interactive Advertising Bureau, New York. “For these consumers, their mobile phone is often the first way they have an interaction with a new brand, whether it is media, fashion or otherwise.

“Making sure that first interaction is easy, informative, and positive is critical to ensuring the brand relationship proceeds.”

Cause of concern
A Deloitte study says that in 2013 mobile influenced 24 percent of in-store clothing, footwear and accessories sales, so there’s a clear link between a phone experience and bricks-and-mortar purchases for the category, Mr. Laszlo said.

American Apparel is a top brand that shockingly lacks mobile optimization.

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American Apparel’s site shown on an iPhone 4

An American Apparel shopper interested in shopping via mobile is met with small text and images, making the site extremely hard to navigate.

A similar issue exists on Reebok.com.

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Reebok’s site shown on an iPhone 4

The Reebok homepage is overly packed with content. The overwhelming amount of content combined with small text and icons prevent a shopper from enjoying a pleasurable experience. Being forced to zoom can deter consumers.

But why?
A lack of priority could explain these brands’ lack of use of modern technology to appeal to tech savvy audiences.

“I expect that the most significant reason some brands have underinvested in mobile is simply one of priorities,” Mr. Laszlo said. “Brand managers may be aware of the stats about mobile usage, but other digital imperatives, such as building a social media presence, or just improving their desktop digital site, have taken priority.”

A lack of knowledge on Web responsive design is also a probable reason of neglect.

“Some brand managers likely believe that since their desktop Web site will display on a smartphone, it’s good enough to serve as a mobile strategy,” Mr. Laszlo said. “In reality, there’s a huge difference in usability between a smartphone optimized site and one that’s not, and that difference can translate into brand favorability, interest, and even sales.”

The study also found that only 24 percent of brands with mobile apps had an App Store link available for reference on their mobile sites, but 59 percent of brands with mobile optimized sites feature a direct link to their desktop site from their mobile Web page.

Optimized search tools were also examined in the study, and 35 percent of brands do not offer mobile optimized search results.

However, store locator tools were seen fairly commonly, as 85 percent of brands have this tool included on site.

Since the structure of the study was set up with a scoring index, a handful of brands actually scored perfectly regarding their mobile Web presence, such as outdoor product company The North Face and lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.

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The North Face’s mobile optimized site

In contrast to American Apparel and Reebok, The North Face’s mobile optimization will be less overwhelming to the consumer. The menu bar, search and store locator icons and shopping cart are all aligned side-by-side and the site is overall easy to navigate.

The unfortunate losers of the study were Candie’s, Casio and Joe Boxer.

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Joe Boxer’s site shown via an iPhone 4

As can be seen, Joe Boxer’s site lacks all mobile-friendly components.

Making the move
Fashion brand Juicy Couture recently announced an overhaul in its ecommerce business with an eye toward mobile in light of the expectations of high-end shoppers, who are more commonly shopping on their mobile phones today.

Featuring key aspects such as mobile optimization and responsive Web design, Juicy’s new site is now compatible with mobile shoppers and utilizes tools such as live chat and swipe and zoom options. For brands with strong bricks-and-mortar roots, they can find a way to survive in a mobile centric world by optimizing their content to add a convenience for smartphone users (see story).

This summer, Italian fashion label Moschino boosted mobile sales through its promotion of a new mobile Web site.

The new mobile Web site launched with a free shipping offer for consumers who made purchases on a smartphone. Using an incentive may help to convince consumers who would usually not shop on mobile to checkout on their smartphone (see story).

A move to mobile optimization can lead a brand to further branding success and an increase in sales.

“Brands that don’t have a mobile-optimized digital presence are absolutely at risk of lost sales,” Mr Laszlo said. “When you are out and about and see a great dress, bag, or pair of shoes, the first thing you do is ask the person wearing it who makes it, and the next thing you do is get out your smartphone and look up that brand or store.

“What happens after that on the phone will shape the rest of the process from discovering a brand to making a purchase, whether it’s in-store or via the Internet, to becoming a brand loyalist.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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