The Need for a Responsive Retail Experience

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Some of us on this side of the world avoided Black Friday like the plague. Others of us braved the crowded malls, hunting for a good bargain on that brand-name shirt or pair of designer shoes. And the smart ones turned to their smartphones and tablets to get the best deals, just days before Cyber Monday.

But the numbers for the Thanksgiving shopping holiday are quite eye-opening. Our friend and advisor Luke Wroblewski has once again made the rounds and collected some of the numbers for all of us. We wanted to highlight a few of them here:

  • Turkey day was the 3rd highest transaction day this year with a 71% increase in online traffic from last year and retail traffic shot up by 46% from the day before.
  • When it came to online shopping, 14.1% of shoppers preferred using their mobile phones. The most popular device for US consumers — the iPhone, followed by the iPad.
  • Online Black Friday sales shot up 20.7% from last year, mostly from mobile shoppers. 16.3% of mobile sales, mostly from an iPad.
  • 24% of Black Friday retail traffic came from a mobile, whereas it was only 14.3% last year and less than 1% in 2009

Beat the Crowds, Go Responsive

If you recall, one of the responsive design myths that's been going around like a bad cold, is that going responsive doesn't makes sense from a retail perspective.

But the numbers don't lie. We're seeing more and more people shop through their mobile devices. So it is imperative that stores consider going responsive for their online stores. Some stores, like Nordstrom, have both a mobile-site and a native app. As we've said before, however, having a site that works across all devices is faster to build and allows mobile users to do what they would naturally want to do on a desktop browser, such as Tommy Hilfiger's site and Currys in the UK.

Not only that, but having to design a native app, which will work on only a specific device, and a mobile-separate site is a waste of time. By designing responsively, stores can ensure that they can reach all their shoppers who might own a variety of mobile devices, from Android to iPhone.

In any case, we have to applaud those stores, like Nordstrom and online retailers like Amazon, for at least having a mobile-friendly version of their sites. But with more shoppers browsing the online racks, a responsive site is the only way to meet the consumer demand for mobile shopping. Stores would be shooting themselves in the foot if they didn't.

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