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Comment: why responsive web has its place on retail shopping lists
Tracey Burridge of Tribe Brand Communication

Retailers need every sale they can lay their hands on and even as the market improves, sales are now fought for across numerous web channels as well as on the high street... by Tracey Burridge, director of Tribe Brand Communication.


Comment: why responsive web has its place on retail shopping lists

Online, the ammunition includes SEO, pay-per-click and ever more elaborate and second guessing online stores. There is one other piece of web technology that all retailers should be aware of though, and that’s the responsive web.

Retail has always been about an experience, and customers want this to be fluid and to feel that a website is responding to ‘their’ needs.

One way to achieve this on digital platforms, as well as in the physical and online store environments themselves, is to consider responsive web. The responsive web is all about flexibility - the ability for customers to see what they need to see, from a website on any device they happen to be using: desktop; laptop; tablet; smartphone or even now gaming consoles.

To put this into context, imagine having a room in a building that adapted in size and content to suit the requirements of each individual. That’s basically what the responsive web is, but in the digital space, and it’s a room that progressively enhances as time goes on.

In addition to helping to create a unique customer experience, responsive web’s other great relevance to retail is the fact that most people browse retail in their downtime, and not at work. Downtime for most people is during the daily commute and time spent waiting - where they are most likely to be using mobile devices such as smartphones. Therefore retail brands need to face the fact that a significant number of customers will first visit their site in this way, and if it’s not really built for mobile - those customers are likely to bounce away to a competitor’s site that is.

The responsive web responds to a user’s platform. They log on and the media query decides what they need to see. Responsive websites are built considering content hierarchy. In short, it’s what the brand wants customers to see and what the customers need to see. Also considered is where the customer is when they make the connection and why they’re visiting the site.

Responsive websites take on average 30% longer to build - which obviously adds more cost. So what will a good responsive website deliver for a brand in terms of ROI?

To begin with, it’s understood that brands that don’t have a responsive website are potentially not communicating to 20% of their customers, so this box can be ticked. If people can see what they came to find on a website and it’s fast enough and has the key messages they needed, their impression of the brand and trust levels increase. We also know that customers will be able to view the site in that most valuable of ‘downtime’ time, wherever that may be.

In my experience site traffic increases up to 40% following the introduction of responsive web with increased average visit times to boot, which equates to more dwell time and more sales.

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