What retailers selling on mobile can learn from Tinder

Dive Brief:

  • Retailers are split on how they display merchandise on customers’ smartphone screens, with 54% adopting a list-based image view and 46% favoring a grid view, according to research from mobile optimization services firm Moovweb.
  • Only about 16% of the sites Moovweb surveyed offered mobile users the option to choose between a list view and a grid view.
  • Moovweb notes that most retailers also are slow to capitalize on touch-enabled mobile device features and capabilities—for example, swiping from image to image, a behavior popularized by the dating and social discovery app Tinder, which generates an average of 1.4 billion swipes each day.

Dive Insight:

Mobile commerce is an increasingly vital driver of retailer revenues. M-commerce accounted for 29.7% of all U.S. e-commerce sales in 2015, up from 24.6% the previous year, according to Internet Retailer’s 2016 Mobile 500. Data released by Forrester Research indicates that mobile transactions will top $142 billion in 2016, with one-third of online retail traffic originating on mobile devices.

But retailers are failing to fully exploit the possibilities of the mobile customer experience, based on data collected by Moovweb, whose platform helps clients like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Petco and Sur la Table adapt and optimize their content to drive conversions across mobile devices.

First studying its own client portfolio before expanding its research to include the top 50 Fortune 500 retailer mobile sites, Moovweb found that retailers are split close to 50/50 between listing products in a grid format versus list format. By comparison, 76% of the top 50 retail sites in the Fortune 500 use grid view on the desktop, with just 24% implementing list view.

Generally speaking, retailers studied by Moovweb selected between list view and grid view depending on the type of merchandise they sell and the amount of product data (like dimensions, discounts, model numbers and ratings) that mobile customers need to make informed purchase decisions. The limited real estate of smartphone screens means that retailers like Home Depot, Best Buy, Staples and AutoZone—i.e., brands selling higher-priced products where specifications play a major role in the buying process—favor a list view. Apparel retailers including Kohl’s, Gap, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus rely on a grid view, which allows them to minimize product information in favor of presenting a wider range of merchandise images.

“16% could switch between the grid and list view, and what was not so great about that was that the information rendered between the list view and the grid view was exactly the same," Haresh Kumar, Moovweb's vice president of marketing, told Retail Dive. "To deliver the best experience, you have to think about what’s best in each view.”

Kumar cited leather goods retailer J.W. Hulme, another Moovweb client, as an example of a brand maximizing the mobile user experience. “J.W. Hulme is doing three different views on mobile. They provide the grid view, the list view and the swipe view,” he said, adding that each different view delivers a different customer experience. “The swipe view is like the Tinder world. That experience lends itself to a whole different market segment: [Millennials] are used to it, and they want it. Putting that into your mobile web experience is smart, and it’s more in line with what your customers want.”

Swiping is just one innovative merchandise display option available to tech-savvy retailers, Kumar noted. Looking ahead, he anticipates brands will begin leveraging mobile features like Apple’s 3D Touch (pressure-sensitive display technology that lets users perform common touchscreen actions faster and in fewer steps) and Live Photos (which transforms conventional still photos by adding movement and sound, essentially creating mini-videos), both introduced last fall in tandem with the iPhone 6s.

“Mobile brings a whole new paradigm. It’s forcing retailers to think differently about how they render their products and how they help consumers make buying decisions,” Kumar said. “Brands are challenged to figure out the best way to showcase their experience and connect with the consumer—and to delight them in ways consumers never considered."

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Filed Under: Technology Consumer Trends E-commerce
Top image credit: Depositphotos