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Comet launched its first mobile site, the first for any UK electrical retailer, earlier this month. The site allows users to browse the retailer's product range and reserve items for collection at local stores.

I've been trying the Comet mobile site (on an iPhone) to see how well it performs...

Finding the site

Comet detects mobile devices and redirects users to the mobile site automatically. This is the best way to do it, as it saves users the hassle of hunting for a link to or typing in the URL of the mobile version.

Also, it ensures that customers are accessing the most usable version of the site by detecting the handset and serving up one of three possible versions of the site, while there is also a link to the standard version for those users that want it.

Site search and navigation

The homepage doesn't bother with any special offers or featured products, so users need to navigate by category or enter a search term on the site. 

The search works well enough, but doesn't deal with misspellings, which are probably more likely when people are typing on a smaller mobile keypad. Using auto-suggest or dealing with some common misspellings would be one way to make the search function smoother.

There are filtering and sorting options on the mobile site, but they don't go far enough, and users could use some more filters to narrow their searches. For example, having clicked four links to get to this point, unless I want to filter by brand, I still have a lot of products to look through:

On what may be a slow mobile internet connection, this could make for a frustrating experience for customers. Providing a few more filters for each product category could avoid this problem.

Product pages

I can't find too much at fault with the product pages here; all the product information and technical specifications that are on the desktop site are provided here for mobile users, and user reviews are provided where available:

The 'collect in store' call to action is nice and clear, though the call to order link could be made to stand out more. There is no option to buy direct from the mobile site though.

Reserving products

The collect in store option is very useful, and in theory should be effective at driving customers in store, but the execution lets it down a little.

First of all, the postcode validation is too strict; people have to enter a full postcode, where the site should work with just the postcode prefix. After all, people may be out and about and won't necessarily know the full postcode of their current location. The option to enter the name of the town to find the nearest store would also be useful.

If you have a full postcode to enter, then you can find the location on a map and check stock levels at the nearest three stores before choosing to reserve at one of them.

Conclusion

Very few of the UK's retailers have mobile sites or apps, so Comet should be applauded for taking this step. According to Comet's Robbie Tutt, who we interviewed last year, the retailer has had a quarter of a million mobile visitors in the last six months, so the mobile site makes perfect sense.

Offline shoppers will increasingly use mobiles to look for product reviews or compare prices elsewhere, and this gives retailers like Comet an opportunity to drove more sales through the mobile channel.

With a few changes, such as making postcode entry easier and improving filtering options, as well as possibly, adding e-commerce functionality, this could be a very useful mobile site.

Graham Charlton

Published 1 December, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Adam Taylor

I too would like to applaud Comet for taking the initiative to look into mobile, even if the the execution isn't quite spot on, yet. Mobile sites have been around for a good 5 years now, but up to this point it was the limitations of handsets and network dataspeeds that really held back their popularity.

It's a real shame that 2d barcode technology like the QR or datamatrix just didn't take hold in the UK. I love the thought of simply scanning in a url rather than fudging it in on the keypad with my sausage fingers. For example if I saw a Comet poster for a laptop I was interested in, I could scan the code and find out more. Does anyone know of a retailer that actually uses these successfully?

For me, mobile surfing is all about speed of access and with Google's voice search getting better each day, it's finally getting there. I probably would'nt use my mobile for a considered purchase, but the thought of being able to reserve an item in store or see if it's in stock before I get there holds a definate appeal.

about 7 years ago

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Nico Koepke

Hi agree wityh earlier comment - GREAT to see a leading UK retailer "get it" and provide a comprehensive and optimised site for mobile devices. Yes could do more, some bells & whistles and finetuning needed, but at least they got there before everyone else!

The success of this will also be depending on how much they understand the 1:1 nature of the related marketing, and can drive individual users with push campaigns to specific landing pages / offers. If they get this right it could transform their direct marketing.

about 7 years ago

Morten Arbejde

Morten Arbejde, Marketing at Personal

I agree Adam. Its a good initiative, but could be executed better - but props for doing it, and get started. The colors chosen seems a little off for me though... black and yellow doesn´t go well together...

over 3 years ago

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