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Smart Furniture sees gains in mcommerce with responsive design

The company found ways to streamline its desktop site so that page load times would not be compromised on mobile devices with the conversion. It also works hard to manage the content presented to its mobile users so that only the most relevant information is displayed.

“We’ve seen increases in conversion rates across all devices,” said T.J. Gentle, CEO of Smart Furniture. “We had a 20 percent increase in conversion rates on mobile and tablet, and that is unquestionably tied to the conversion to responsive design.”

Chattanooga, TN-based Smart Furniture offers custom-designed home and office furnishings. It offers both name brands and products of its own design.

Making transactions easy
Smart Furniture planned the Web site redesign with the goal of making it easier to conduct transactions on mobile devices. Its effort comes at a time when many retailers, especially those offering high-ticket items like furniture, have struggled to get customers to complete purchases on their mobile devices after using them extensively for search and discovery.

“We decided that if we have them in the funnel, let’s make it easy for them to click and buy,” Mr. Gentle said.

The redesign was mostly handled internally by Smart Furniture’s own developers.

The mobile site seeks to make it easy for shoppers to become buyers.

The team sought to make the site as easy to use as possible, without sacrificing the ability to customize and dig into detailed product specifications if that was what the customer wanted to do.

As a result, the company found that customers on mobile were likely to buy a ready-made product simply from seeing an image, as opposed to leveraging the company’s Design on Demand service that allows shoppers to customize their purchase.

“A larger number of customers are seeing a picture of what they want and buying it,” Mr. Gentle said. “That was a serendipitous step for us.”

Need for speed
In order to make the responsively designed Web site load faster on mobile devices, the Smart Furniture design team worked on making the desktop site more efficient first.

One area where the designers found they could shed a lot of page weight was in the cascading style sheets (CSS) in JavaScript.

“We became more creative and more efficient than we were on desktop,” Mr. Gentle said. “I would suggest that anyone who is concerned about speed when they switch to responsive Web design take a hard look at their CSS in JavaScript.”

With the redesign, more mobile shoppers are buying right from the product image display.

Smart Furniture also takes care to only display relevant information for each shopper. Customers can enter a personal profile on the Web site, and that helps identify users across devices.

Smart Furniture gets about 30 percent to 35 percent of its traffic through mobile devices. Mr. Gentle said he envisions that increasing now that the responsive design has been implemented and the company will return to search-engine strategies for driving customers to mobile that it had abandoned during the redesign.

“It has surprised us,” Mr. Gentle said. “Even at a $750 price point, people will buy over a smartphone.”

Final Take
Mark Hamstra is content director on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York