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The Retailer and the Responsive Design Revolution

By Charlotte Amos

September 12, 2012 | 3 min read

There’s an evolution afoot in world of the web design. It’s gathering momentum and clients and agencies alike are starting to recognise its importance – precisely because it has significant repercussions for retailers and brands alike.

I’m talking about responsive design - a form of web design that allows sites to deliver optimal user experience with minimal resizing, panning and scrolling across a wide range of devices - from desktop to laptop, tablet or smartphone.

So why is responsive design so crucial for retailers now?

In June, Capgemini revealed that online sales via smartphones and tablets had leapt 356% compared to June last year. So, the need to construct ‘device agnostic’ eCommerce experiences has never been more important for retailers and brands that want to maximise online sales. And this is where responsive design comes in.

Pinching and panning around a retailer’s eCommerce site just doesn’t cut it anymore. If consumers can’t navigate or make a purchase easily on their smartphone or iPad, they’ll get frustrated and abandon their shopping cart. In short, providing a below par user experience on any platform translates into lost opportunity and lost sales.

In any aspect of retail - and especially in the current competitive climate - the consumer must receive the best experience possible. With a responsive eCommerce design, the website responds to the user, instead of the other way around. Responsive sites are easier to read and user experiences are consistent across all devices, which makes for happier customers. Customers will spend more time on a site and be more likely to engage with content – and crucially, more likely to purchase.

Responsive design isn’t just for websites though. Emails should be designed responsively too to ensure they render properly on any device. Some retailers are already taking action – Sainsbury’s, for example, has recently re-designed its email marketing into a responsive format.

There is the argument that specifically-designed mobile sites do their job well enough, but then customers can be disappointed when a mobile site doesn’t carry the same content as the main website.

Ultimately, an online shop needs to look as good as its bricks and mortar counterpart – on all devices. For retailers and brands that want to achieve true long-term cross-channel success, investing in responsive design is a must.


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