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Halfords launched its first mobile website last week which aims to cater for users doing product research on the move, another multichannel move by the retailer.
The new mobile site was developed by Salmon, and allows users to browse items and reserve them for collection from their nearest store. I've been trying the site out...
Homepage / navigation
The Halfords mobile site is designed to work on as many handsets as possible, and so the layout and navigation has been kept simple. The homepage features a prominent search box and a list of navigational options.
Showing menu options in a vertical list can work better on mobile sites than horizontal menu bars as it fits with the shape of the phone screen and makes it easier to click the right option.
There are enough sub-categories to browse the site effectively, while filtering options allow users to refine the product selection till they have a manageable shortlist of products:
There are also some useful touches when browsing. If you select car batteries, then you're asked for the registration or the make and model of your car so you can select the right option:
However, some links are very small and too close together, making it very easy to select the wrong option on touch screen phones:
The link to the store on the homepage could be missed by some, and like the shopping basket link, isn't easy to select on a touch screen phone.
Users can search by postcode or town, though the process isn't as smooth as it could be.
Having entered the postcode, instead of displaying s list of the nearest stores for users to choose from, it is necessary to select from a drop-down list, which slows the process down before you can see store details and opening times:
Mobile product pages need to stick to the basics while making sure that the essentials are clearly displayed.
The product pages on this site manage to achieve this, with the price and product title clearly displayed, and further product details and technical specifications within drop downs.
In this product page, the price is clearly displayed along with an average customer review score, while the call to action stands out from the rest of the page:
This isn't a payment process, but users need to select the store they want to collect their items from, and check that stock is available before continuing to the next step, which is entering contact details and confirming the reservation.
It's well designed though, with the minimum if steps and data entry required of users.
The Halfords mobile site is simple and works well, and is another addition to Halfords' successful multichannel strategy. It's a good example of designing a mobile site to work across a number of different devices. I tried it on an iPhone and a Samsung phone and it worked well on both.
The site is restricted to reserving for in store collection, and does this well, though the retailer may like to consider adding the option to buy through mobiles for those customers that want to.
It's interesting that while Argos chose to introduce a reserve and collect app recently, Halfords has opted for a mobile site. We've looked at the pros and cons of having a mobile site or app before, and it comes down to a choice between the greater reach of mobile sites and the greater functionality and usability that an app can provide.
I suspect that Halfords, if it sees that significant numbers of iPhone or other smartphone users are accessing the mobile site, will think about introducing an app to appeal more to these users.