How Retailers Can Tell if Responsive Design is Right for Their Online Shop

In a time where 90% of people use multiple screens to access the web, responsive web design allows websites to automatically be resized and organized to fit to different sized screens on all devices. Responsive design has become a very popular solution for many websites to offer a better mobile experience to their users. It is even recommended by Google as the way websites should be optimized to accommodate mobile users. But is it the best way for online shops to reach mobile shoppers?

Retailers should offer a mobile shopping experience that allows customers to quickly and easily find what they are looking for. In order to maximize sales, it may not be enough for every online shop to serve mobile customers the same content served to desktop customers. For example, the mobile customers of an online shop may not always be interested in the same products as the desktop customers. Therefore, retailers should consider the different potential advantages and disadvantages of responsive design in order to serve customers the best mobile shopping experience.

Advantages of Responsive Design for M-Commerce

  • Retailers who are still preparing to launch an online store can design their store from the beginning to appeal to desktop and mobile customers. This is known as the mobile first approach.
  • With responsive design, an online shop is served to all devices on one url, making it easier for customers to interact with the website through referral links. By using one url, an online shop also has an easier time of having it’s pages appear in search engine results. Search engines have to crawl websites to index them in search engine results, and the more url’s a website has, the longer it will take for this website to be indexed. This is why responsive design is recommended by Google as the optimal way to serve mobile users.
  • Simple product lists and details are easily displayed on mobile devices because this content is not too complex to resize effectively for different sized screens.
  • Online shops which already offer a single-page checkout process will have an easier time making this process responsive so customers can make quick and easy purchases. The less complex the checkout process is, the easier it is to reconstruct the process for mobile use. Furthermore, a quick checkout process is the most convenient for on-the-go mobile shoppers.

Disadvantages of Responsive Design for M-Commerce

  • Responsive design can be difficult and expensive to implement for a complex online shop because it usually requires the entire website to be reconstructed.
  • Serving desktop and mobile shoppers the exact same content is not effective SEO when each is using different search terms and looking for different products.
  • Complex product lists and descriptions are difficult to display in a user friendly way on mobile devices.
  • Complex checkout processes are difficult to implement with responsive design and can lead to increased shopping cart abandonment. About 50% of mobile purchases are abandoned because the checkout process takes too long.

Flow Chart
The flow chart below offers different points for a retailer to consider when determining if responsive design makes sense for their online shop.

How Retailers Can Tell if Responsive Design is Right for Their Online Shop image jvdnHow Retailers Can Tell if Responsive Design is Right for Their Online Shop

Ultimately, retailers should not choose responsive design simply because its popular and recommended by Google. It should be noted that most of the websites using responsive design aren’t even e-commerce websites. Furthermore, even though responsive design is recommended by Google, a responsive design website with a bad mobile user experience will not rank high search engine results.

What are the alternatives to responsive design? Online shops that are interested in learning how responsive design compares to having a separate mobile website are invited to read the following white paper covering this very topic.

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