Recent web traffic analysis shows that many Social Retailers are getting an enormous amount of traffic from mobile devices. In the case of LivingSocial, they’re getting more traffic from mobile than the desktop. Breaking down mobile traffic between the apps and the mobile web, the web is preferred over apps nearly two-fold. This affinity of LivingSocial users for mobile websites is in line with general mobile retail shopping preference finding revealed in a recent Keynote Mobile Study.
So it would stand to reason that LivingSocial is doing everything possible to maximize the performance of their websites on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). Yet, looking at results in the Keynote Startup 3-Screen Index, their performance isn’t where you’d hope it would be. On tablets the 43.9 second average response time of their site is downright painful, faring far worse than the average startup.
But the mobile challenge LivingSocial faces is ones other companies would love to have. Their customers and prospects are actively seeking them out on mobile devices and with a few improvements, the company can quickly improve the mobile user experience. For smartphone users they’re delivering a clean, simple website designed in accordance to many mobile best practices. However with 300 KB of content it is on the heavy side. Trimming down the size of the site delivering fewer and lighter content could lead to faster downloads.
Worse yet, they make the iPad user go through a 3 step registration process that isn’t required of smartphone users. Mobile websites are important for all retailers because they’re far more discoverable than apps which require a download from an app store. Three additional steps needed to get to a home page increases the likelihood of user abandonment. Requiring upfront registration and collecting information is very common in Social Retail. But if fake information will get you to the destination, companies should weigh what’s gained in collecting junk data against the potential loss of real prospects.
Testing Web applications before they become active has always been desirable in all environments. The user experience, however, has been largely untouchable. It is remarkable to have the capability to get to the granularity and perspective of the end-user in this regard.
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