Going Mobile

A recent New York Times article pointed to the need for retailers to retool their sites for mobile shopping. Why? Well it may have something to do with this quote from Mary Meeker way back in November (that is like 100 in technology years): “mobile is ramping faster than any new new thing.” You would have to be living under a rotary phone not to realize this.

The New York Times article goes on to say that all is not click and buy in the mobile retail space:

“Everyone was so excited last year, but then sales through mobile haven’t been growing as rapidly as we would have thought,” said Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research, which tracks the technology industry.

Many retailers haven’t even optimized their sites for mobile, and who wants to spend their time pinching screens and mistyping links?

So there is an opportunity here for book retailers too, if not exactly to lead the way, then at least not to lag too far behind. The first thing, of course, would be to have an e-commerce site that doesn’t suck. I have had a lot of conversations with retailers of late who are in the process of redesigning their sites. So it would seem like there is no time like the present to get your e-commerce site optimized for the mobile space. It isn’t really rocket science. A few things you may want to consider when thinking about this are:

  • 1. Local, local, local—Local makes sense for mobile searching. There are specific indexing algorithms for mobile websites. So if you don’t have an optimized mobile site you are missing out on local and mobile search rankings. For example, Google Mobile Web Search crawls and indexes sites that have been specifically designed for mobile phones and devices. When users search the mobile web on their mobile devices using Google Mobile Web Search, the content of mobile sites becomes available to them. Local restaurants, retail and other local businesses can benefit significantly from a mobile-friendly website as another efficient and customer friendly way to communicate.
  • 2. News and Blogs—You want to make sure that your viewers and audience have as much up-to-date information as possible. The mobile site can help you accomplish this goal. Keep in mind that social networking and blogging have emerged as very popular daily uses of the mobile web and that these activities are growing like a madness.
  • 3. E-Commerce Sites—Yes, like Amazon.com mobile. You need to make sure that your customers can review and purchase products from your website. Studies and forecasts were predicting mobile retail would constitute 8.5% of all e-commerce revenues in the US in 2010. That didn’t quite happen, but it is enlightening to consider that, on “Cyber Monday” this year, approximately 3.9% of the holiday shoppers visited a retailer’s site using a mobile device.


So if you don’t have a mobile site, get one. If you have a website that you think would work just fine—ok. But next time you’re in a Future Shop or at Rogers load up your site on a bunch of different devices and then decide if that’s the kind of experience you want your potential customers to have.