We know the basics of what’s needed for a functional experience on the second screen. But what about an experience that can actually offer something more than the desktop experience? We evaluated the retail space to determine which retailers were truly innovating on mobile and tablet, no app download required.
Think search, then filter
Retailers have just a short window of time to seal or at least start sealing the deal on mobile. Hence the importance of search that is prominent, easily available throughout the experience, and intuitive enough to help the less dextrous of us find the accurate spelling or terms. If search works great, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a universal starting point, and some retailers are doing just that by removing extraneous content and collapsing or removing category navigation altogether on the mobile homepage. It’s then up to the user whether or not categories come into play to filter the results.
While tablet’s not as constrained by screen size or time, this approach is still worth considering, especially because category dropdowns often pose hover state and selection issues. Amazon and Target alter their homepage just slightly to facilitate the behavior of starting with search and narrowing by category next. Amazon collapses category navigation on tablet that’s vertically expanded by default on desktop. Target moves category navigation to a collapsed vertical dropdown on tablet.
There’s a ton of things you can do on mobile, but stick with what makes sense for your brand
A small screen + short attention span + on-the-go environment necessitates a streamlined experience. What that experience is should be unique, compelling, and simple enough to grasp in one glance at the homepage.
Here are four retailers that offer completely different yet equally compelling reasons to use and return to their mobile sites.
Target is particularly innovative in connecting mobile to in-store, leveraging geolocation for in-store availability and offering daily online deals, weekly regional specials, and mobile coupons that work smoothly across channels. Their latest couponing application, Cartwheel, connects shoppers to a set number of specials they can select and scan at checkout.
Sephora gives its beauty-hungry community plenty to salivate over on mobile. Mobile-specific offers and changing daily content and features are a pretty compelling to return again- and often.
On the other end of the spectrum, Zappos and Amazon stick to the basics: ensuring the mobile shopper can easily narrow down an expansive set of products to those of interest. Given that neither have brick-and-mortar stores, on-the-go mobile usage is likely apt to happen while in other stores, where convenience and price take precedence other content.
Let your tablet users get tap-happy
While most retailers understand the importance of optimizing desktop site functionality on tablet, few sites are tapping into tablet’s unique interactive capabilities. It’s truly a missed opportunity to engage a shopper’s inner 5 year old when carousels, product thumbnails, and other actions are not gesture-optimized.
Tapping and swiping is fun when there’s an immediate and of course non-intrusive response. Sephora does a great job of translating their very hands-on in-store shopping experience to digital by incorporating small interactions into their site. Tablet users can swipe through product carousels or tap an icon to add products as favorites without leaving the grid page.
Target’s new couponing experience builds similar interactions into the grid page. Users can flip tiles for more information as they scroll for a temporary bookmark of sorts.
Design brand content with tablet top of mind
Tablet users are more apt to seek entertainment, often from home. This more leisurely browsing mindset combined with the aforementioned insight that touching stuff is fun, makes tablet an ideal channel for new content. Zappos’ recent editorial and social offering, Glance, utilizes large images, easy to use icons, and a tablet- and mobile-friendly layout that’s a natural fit for tablet browsing.
Ensure checkout is continuous
If there’s one key insight about tablet and mobile users, it’s that they’re switching between devices at every point in the shopping experience. According to a recent Google study, of the 65% that start on a smartphone, 61% continue on desktop. Reversely, of the 25% that start on desktop, 19% continue on their smartphone. Given this behavior, it’s essential that online shopping experiences are continuous across devices- all the way through checkout. Yet only 1 in 3 brands are providing cart continuity. In ensuring that checkout be as easy as possible, cart continuity should be top of the list.