Raise your hand if you rely on your smartphone for many of your everyday tasks. (You'll receive extra consideration if your raised hand is clenching your smartphone.) Today, it's not uncommon for phones to be used as more than ... well, a phone. Users also rely on their smart devices to access email, take (and send) photographs, wake to as an alarm clock, set reminders,
brew coffee, and act as a mini gaming console.
And now smartphones are also being considered a preferred platform for online shopping. Makes sense, right? The smartphone's omnipresence in our daily lives means that we can easily act on our shopping whims (or on amazing deals), regardless of where we are. To indulge us (and their profit margins) many retailers have noticed the trend and created mobile-friendly sites that are optimized for online shopping on the go.
Big-name merchants like Amazon and Target are pros at offering a dedicated mobile shopping experience, but it seems more niche retailers haven't gotten the digital memo. In fact, according to Retailing Today, only 17% of specialty merchants feature sites that are specifically tailored to mobile browsing. Anyone who has ever tried to awkwardly navigate a full-version site on a small touchscreen knows that the lack of a dedicated mobile site is a sure-fire way to lose potential readers, or, in this case, potential paying shoppers.
Retailing Today points out that small-to-midsize businesses in particular lack an adaptable mobile website. But we discovered that several well-known specialty stores — some of which only have an online presence — default to full-size versions of their sites on not-so-full-sized smartphone screens. This is obviously no good for any deal shopper who needs to act quickly on a purchase. Being immediate and deal-centric here, we've thusly created a list of 10 specialty sites we really wish had dedicated mobile sites.
10 Merchants without Mobile Sites1. Soap.com
This Amazon-owned online drugstore specializes in household products, personal care items, and even groceries at better-than-brick-and-mortar prices. Being a web-only operation (and having an Amazon influence), one would think Soap.com would create a functional, tailor-made site for mobile browsers, but there's only a free Soap.com mobile app (albeit one that features quite an array of bells-and-whistles). Moreover, it's only available for iPhone users. (Sorry, Android fans in need of toiletries.)
2. Joe's New Balance Outlet
This online-exclusive purveyor of all-things New Balance offers strong sales on footwear, apparel, and other athletic accessories. One of the store's specialties is its daily deal, which, each day features a single item at a significant discount. The daily deal is perfect for an on-the-go shopper, as it's made specifically for making an immediate (or, ahem, impulse?) purchase; the outlet site's lack of a mobile site however inhibits such shopping.
3. Fry's Electronics
Although this electronics store only has physical locations in a handful of states, the Fry's e-commerce platform has brought a significant selection of Editors' Choice-level deals to happy tech aficionados across the country. But when said shoppers pull up the Fry's site on their mobile browsers, they see a (condensed) replica of the page they typically see on their laptops.
4. B&H Photo-Video
Despite only having one brick-and-mortar store in New York, B&H is heralded by photogs of all skill levels throughout the U.S. for its exceptional camera equipment and deals thanks to the outreach courtesy of its e-commerce platform. B&H does not offer a mobile site at this time, but a dedicated online shopping app is available for free for iPhone and Android users.
5. Last Call by Neiman Marcus
The outlet division of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus boasts exceptional discounts on high-end name-brand shoes, apparel, housewares, and more. But, for those who prefer to shop via their little luxury device, it's necessary to "slum it" on a site that's not specifically designed for mobile browsers. We found that it's not uncommon for luxury retailers to lack a mobile web counterpart; Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale's, for instance, are not in on the mobile web trend.
Owned by online shoe store Zappos (which was acquired by ... Amazon!), 6pm offers several sales a day on name-brand shoes and apparel. While it specializes in soft goods, 6pm has also featured some best-ever prices on the popular Skullcandy brand of headphones. The fact that 6pm doesn't have a mobile website is particularly curious, given its ties to Amazon.
7. Mac Connection
Where do Mac fans go for discounted Apple products? Not the Apple Store! Retailers like Mac Connection offer bargains on both older and current Apple systems. Such undercutting deals on new Apple products can sometimes be short-lived, and a lack of a specialized mobile website is a disadvantage to the smartphone shopper who wants to act quickly.
8. Apple Store
Yes, we just mentioned Mac Connection as a go-to destination for Apple deals. But Apple does offer discounts on refurbished iMacs, MacBooks, and iPads. What it doesn't offer is access to a mobile website. However, iPhone users can download a free app for their Apple online shopping needs.
9. Microsoft Store
We have seen our fair share of Editors' Choice-caliber prices for Windows-based PCs, laptops, and Xbox 360 consoles, courtesy of Microsoft Store. These low-priced deals are prone to going out of stock very quickly, and without an optimized mobile site, many shoppers will have better luck trying to locate the nearest laptop to score a bargain at Microsoft Store.
10. Bath & Body Works
While you can usually find a Bath & Body Works at most shopping complexes, we frequently see online sales, coupons, and other offers from this retailer of scented goods that would make it easy to stock up on your tried-and-true favorites while on-the-go... if it had a site that actually worked well on a smartphone, that is.
Surprised to see some of those names above? These are but a sample size of sites that we discovered are lacking on the mobile front. Other merchants without a mobile web presence include outdoor apparel store Moosejaw, automotive specialist AutoZone, and hardware shop Harbor Freight Tools.
Merchants with Dedicated Mobile AppsThree of the merchants from our list offer mobile apps for iPhone shoppers, while just one catered to Android users. While these specialized apps can be quite handy, Mashable points out that consumers who use their smartphones for shopping prefer to use a mobile site rather than download apps for each merchant from which they want to make a purchase.
But new ways of reaching out and appealing to consumers are always in development. For instance, those who would prefer an alternative to creating a separate site to reach the mobile market can turn to responsive web design, which is content that "responds to the device on which it's being rendered." In other words, a full-version site can seamlessly adapt into a mobile-version site upon detection, and maintain the same content and design, without being awkward.
As it stands now, specialty merchants have some catching up to do to meet the ever-growing trend of reliance on convergence devices. As people become busier, and smartphones more of a necessity to them, easy access to mobile web browsing is key in retaining consumer loyalty.