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Today sees the launch of John Lewis's first foray into mobile commerce, with the retailer opting for a mobile website rather than a smartphone app.
John Lewis currently gets 100,000 visits every week from mobile users, and is hoping that a better user experience will convert more of these visitors into buyers. I've been trying the new site out...
The site can be found at m.johnlewis.com, and this seems to be the only way to access the mobile version of the site at the moment. To make it easier for users to find, mobile users should be automatically redirected to the mobile version when they arrive via mobile search.
A link to the main site can be provided for those users that prefer it, but I think most people would rather arrive at the mobile site first.
The John Lewis site has a simple layout, with a prominent search box and navigational options shown in a vertical list. Each navigation options brings up sub categories so users can be precise about the area of the site they want to browse.
There is a large product range available on the site, and John Lewis has provided comprehensive filtered navigation options to help users to narrow their product selection.
Decent filters are important for any e-commerce site, but are even more important when mobile connections can vary in speed and quality. Allowing users to sort by category, price range etc will save them time and make it more likely that they will find the product they want and buy it.
While customers can click on the product image or text to open up the product page, this isn't made clear enough:
The product pages contain detailed information on product specs, though this does make for long pages and plenty of scrolling for some products, though at least the pages load quickly enough.
For some products, the images don't really help to sell the items enough. The photo for this jacket is too small to make out the details, and there is no option to zoom in or to see the product from another angle:
There are obvious challenges in providing images for mobile sites, but for fashion items especially, slightly larger images are preferable for shoppers.
For some of the longer product descriptions, John Lewis could do more to make the information easier to read and scan for shoppers, so they can pick up on the key product details quickly.
This product page for a TV is one example; by breaking up details into headings and bullet points, this page would be easier to digest:
This is a good example of how a mobile checkout should be designed. The form filling has been kept to a minimum, and registration is not compulsory before checkout.
Features like a postcode lookup option can help mobile shoppers by saving them time spent typing out the full address:
The checkout process has been well designed throughout, though thanks to the various options to review the billing details etc, there are more steps to the process than there needs to be. There are about eight or nine steps in the process altogether, depending which delivery options are selected.
As well as the options to buy via the site, there are click and collect options, though not for every product. It would help to make it clear on product pages whether or not items are available for in store collection.
There is a store locator too, though the link is right down the page in small text. A more prominent link may be a better idea, though the tool works well and provides useful information including opening times, contact details and directions:
John Lewis already has 100,000 mobile visits every week, and it's likely that such a popular brand will attract plenty of sales through this site. M&S has done well so far, with 1.2m visits and 13,000 orders in just over four months.
The mobile web approach, as chosen by M&S, is also the best first step into mobile commerce, and John Lewis can always use the visitor stats and customer feedback to decide if apps for specific handsets are needed.
The site is well designed and easy to use throughout, with only a few minor usability issues, which are easy enough to correct. Most importantly, the mobile checkout process has been well designed, making it very easy to complete purchases on their phones.