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OfficeAnything.com’s mobile site misses the mark on user-friendlinessBy
OfficeAnything.com has gone mobile, a strategy the company hopes will fufill the needs of on-the-go consumers, but the ability to browse from anywhere is trumped by poor design.
The new mobile site for OfficeAnything.com helps the online retailer reach on the go business execs, purchasing agents and the everyday consumer with a hand-held extension of its online office furniture gallery. However, the optimized mobile OfficeAnything.com is flawed in that it fails to eliminate features that are not core to the mobile user.
“Any retailer still delivering a desktop site to their mobile audience is likely suffering from depressed conversion rates and is losing customers to competitors that deliver a dedicated mobile-specific experience designed from ‘whole cloth’,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.
“It is important for retailers to not just deliver mobile commerce, but to engage mobile consumers in new ways designed specifically for them,” he said.
Mr. Kerr is not affiliated with OfficeAnything. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.
OfficeAnything did not respond to press inquiries.
Designing for mobile retail
A desktop platform differs from the mobile user interface in many ways, including interaction techniques, how people read, context of use and the number of things that can be grasped at a glance.
The design challenge in mobile is being able to satisfy most, if not all of the user’s needs.
A strong mobile user experience requires a different design than what is needed to satisfy desktop users, which OfficeAnything.coms’s new site misses out on.
When attempting to search for a leather office chair, the user is bombarded with options and styles, but has no way of searching based on specifications other than price or brand.
Mobile consumers expect a full Web experience, but one that is tailored to their screen.
When actually selecting a product, the display is poor, and does not showcase the item or make it easy to select and view it at different angles or in the many colors it may be ordered in.
Tailoring content for the mobile experience is crucial. Desktop users look for in-depth information, but mobile users want quick facts and answers, not lengthy product descriptions that OfficeAnything.com’s site delivers.
While mobile users have high expectations for what they should be able to accomplish on their phones, serving the full site is futile. Content needs to be cut, including word count and enlarging interface elements should be addressed to avoid the “fat finger” problem.
Stacking up on mobile
Perhaps OfficeAnything could learn a thing or two about mobile from competitors Office Depot or Staples, both of which have been building out strong mobile strategies over the past few years.
When accessing the Staples mobile site to find a similar chair that OfficeAnything sells, it is clear that the user would have a much easier time navigating through products. Product details are hidden to prevent crowding. Peer reviews and store availability information is also readily available.
A mobile site should have less information about each product and fewer things users can do with the products, but the range of items should remain the same as on the full site. A mobile site should provide links to the full site wherever features or content are missing, so users have access to everything when and if they need it.
Mobile is now
Mobile devices have in part become the new retail experience, and the numbers show.
In 2013, mobile Internet traffic grew over 125 percent according to a BrightEdge study on mobile usage, and may exceed use on traditional PCs this year. And Forbes predicts smartphones and tablets will represent 87 percent of all connected device sales in 2017.
Next-generation shoppers hold the Internet in the palm of their hands, and if retailers and marketers want a piece, they need to adapt to this new medium more appropriately.
While mobile enables users to interact with customers in real time, OfficeAnthing is missing out on the opportunities mobile presents.
“Mobile is too important to be a resized or reskinned version of desktop,” Mr. Kerr said.
“A dedicated, integrated mobile site is a necessity for any retailer that wants to serve their customers an experience worthy of the devices they are increasingly using to browse and shop online,” he said.
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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