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39pc of leading retail mobile sites lose sales because of redirects

Many of the top 500 eretailers use unique m-dot sites that redirect users an average 3.03 times before landing on the right site, resulting in poor user experiences that are costing these retailers sales.

With all the talk about responsive Web design and adaptive design, new data from Web optimization firm Yottaa reveals that 150 of the top 500 eretailers still have a unique m-dot site. As the crucial holiday season approaches, too many of these retailers are not taking the steps to insure that mobile users land on their sites quickly, a potentially costly misstep as research shows that just a one-second delay in site response time can reduce conversions by 7 percent.

“As more users spend more time on mobile devices, any inefficiencies in mobile delivery will become more pronounced,” said Ari Weil, vice president of products at Yottaa, Boston.

“This holiday season will break records yet again in the usage of mobile for shopping, based on last year where mobile shopping was up 50 percent,” he said.  “Those retailers whose redirect inefficiencies affect their mobile experience will certainly be at a disadvantage versus others.

“Most surprising was the fact that a significant percentage among the top 500 – those who obviously invest a lot in their Web presence – are still making this mistake.  We would have expected this from perhaps smaller retailers who have less in-house development expertise on hand.”

Precious time
Yottaa’s analysis reveals that 39 percent of the top 500 retailers’ mobile sites redirect users an average of 3.03 times. One out of 10 of the top Internet retail sites redirects users three or more times.

Such redirects add seconds to page loads for these retailers.

Mobile sites with four redirects make users wait more than 16 seconds until a site renders. This is eight seconds longer compared to sites with no mobile redirects.

The m-dot site for Kohl’s

These redirects are happening primarily because of inconsistencies or workarounds on the back-end of sites.

According to Yottaa’s preliminary data testing the top 500 retail sites, it takes more than 10 seconds to render the average site on an iPhone using 3G connectivity. The time it takes to display the page completely clocks in at more than 20 seconds.

Mobile first
Ideally, a Web site using an m-dot Web address on a mobile device would jump directly from its base URL to the unique mobile version in just one step.

Other key findings include that there was only a one second difference between sites with one redirect and those with three.

The m-dot site for Lowe’s

Additionally, the average time it took to render a site on an iPhone using 3G connectivity was substantially longer compared to a desktop, at 10.4 seconds compared to 1.89 seconds on a desktop computer using a Chrome browser.

“It all comes back to an organizational focus on mobile,” Mr. Weil said.  “This issue wouldn’t happen if businesses were thinking mobile first, or at least mobile-in-parallel, rather than bolting it on as an afterthought, or a ‘quick fix’ to stay on trend.

“It’s unclear what format will be the standard bearer in the future – there are pros and cons for both m. and responsive approaches, and lots of fiery debates to boot,” he said.

“The important thing is to emphasize mobile at the beginning of the development process – everything else will fall into place from there.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York