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MandM Direct boosts mobile conversion rates with responsive site

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MandM Direct says shoppers using mobile devices to browse its website are more likely to buy since it launched a responsive website.

The online fashion retailer says conversion rates from tablets and mobile phones are up and the bounce rate down since it built the responsive site using the Akamai Ion web experience solution, for which it is the first UK customer. It has now switched off both its app and separate mobile site as a result of what it describes as the better customer experience offered by the new site.

“We’ve got unified user experience, we’ve only got one code base to maintain and it also means a lot of browser-specific technology pieces are now managed by Akamai rather than my own team,” said Graham Benson, IT director at MandM Direct. “The coding my own team does can be much more application oriented.”

He added: “It’s improved our conversion, allowed us to launch a responsive site, and launching a responsive site has improved our response rate and conversion.”

Meanwhile the technology, which enables heavier pages to load more quickly, has also halved page load times for the full site from non-wifi connections.

MandM Direct worked with Akamai to develop the solution for its needs and introduced it before the Christmas peak. “As this is a highly customizable and new technology we really did have to work as partners to implement it,” said Benson. “It’s not something you just buy off the shelf and install and it never will be because of the complexity of the technology.” MandM turned to the Akamai solution when it decided to move to a responsive site and wanted to speed up the rate at which it would load when users were using slower internet services such as 3G or GPRS on their mobile devices.

“We needed to try and find a way to take these heavy pages and make them load much faster on slower mobile phones,” said Benson.

“You can do that either through dramatically reducing the page weight and content of your home page, which means your PC and tablet offering suffer, or you find technology that allows you to load your heavier pages faster. We approached Akamai and said we were looking to build a responsive design website and they said they were looking to launch an optimisation tool set allowing heavier pages to load faster.”

Retailers of all kinds, says Benson, will need to consider how they are going to render content as it is accessed from more and different devices. “The technology itself will continue to grow and the way retailers need to amend their websites and propositions in order to exploit those technologies will need to continually evolve,” he said.

He added: “Mobile as a percentage of overall traffic has grown and outstripped most people’s projections. I think as mobile speeds improve and as people become even more comfortable with mobile access into sites and as retailers improve their mobile proposition, you’re going to see migration away from static PC access and more into tablet mobile. Certainly, most retailers have seen around a 50/50 split between PC and non-PC traffic. I think that’s only going to go one way and I think faster than most people would expect.”

Alex Gibbons, vice president for northern Europe at Akamai , said: “Situational performance is probably the biggest and more complex challenge facing any organization with an online presence. Presumptions can no longer be made about how people come to your site. It’s no longer guaranteed to be a PC and broadband connection. To the customer, the experience has to be consistent across device, browser, connection speed and connection type. For those who rely on their website to attract, transact and interact with customers the costs for building a site optimised for every possible combination are totally unviable. Ion enables organisations to deliver a cost-effective, truly optimised experience for their customers on any device, any connection at anytime.”

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