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Tria exec: Responsive design caused conversion rates to drop

November 1, 2013

Tria's mobile site

LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ –A Tria Beauty executive at the Mobile Shopping Fall Summit said that while responsive design can be a good first step for a mobile site, the format actually caused the online retailer’s conversion rates to drop 50 percent.

During the “Taking advantage of the marketing shift from interruption to invitation to gain competitive advantage” session, executives from Tria Beauty and BSH discussed challenges with getting consumers to convert on mobile. The session was moderated by Ashley Eckel, head of marketing at StarStar, New York.

“Responsive design is great, and I think it can get you 70 percent of the way for most people, but for us there were a lot of cool features on the main site that didn’t translate well,” said Danika Harrison, senior vice president of direct marketing and innovation at Tria Beauty, Dublin, CA. “So it turned out we needed more customization.

“The lesson learned for me there was to make sure you’re giving enough time towards the mobile development so it doesn’t become an afterthought,” she said.

Mobile retail
According to Ms. Harrison, mobile accounts for 30 percent of Tria’s site traffic. Consumers are engaging with the mobile site on the same level as on the desktop site, but conversion on desktop is still 3.5 times higher.

On both mobile and desktop, consumers who visit Tria’s site more than two times are four times more likely to convert.

The issue on mobile, as it is with most retailers, is that consumers do not want to have to fill out all of their information on a tiny screen. However, once consumers create a user name and save billing information, they can checkout more easily.

When Tria tried to make the site more mobile-friendly with responsive design, it did not actually end up improving the site experience. There were a lot of bugs, and the desktop site did not easily convert to mobile.

The retailer therefore decided to create a mobile-specific site that would translate the special desktop features more smoothly.

For example, the desktop site features videos that consumers like to watch, but on mobile, consumers do not want to sit on the homepage watching content. They are more interested in quickly going to a product page and checking the price.

Tria is trying to stay away from completely mimicking the desktop site on mobile and instead provide relevant content that the mobile audience wants.

The Mobile Shopping session

Educational experience
Appliance manufacturer BSH views their mobile site a bit differently than Tria. BSH leverages its mobile site to educate the consumer and help them through the purchasing process.

BSH sees their mobile site as a tool for consumers as opposed to a direct drive to conversion.

The company is currently solidifying its mobile strategy, and to do so it is trying to understand its target customers and what they want from the mobile site.

“Mobile becomes an interesting tool when they are getting themselves in the store to see the products,” said Luis Pires, director of ecommerce at BSH, Munich, Germany. “Working with retailers with specific training and educational tools so that they know whether the product is the right product for them is critical.

“Once they are ready to buy, mobile becomes critical,” he said. “Once a consumer entered a store, we will funnel messages, trying not to be intrusive, but we’re trying to send very relevant messages that will make them lean towards our brand. The key part is leaning towards our brand and not telling them exactly what to do.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York


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Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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