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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... 

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Homepage

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. 

Navigation

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. 

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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:

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Product pages

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: 

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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:

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Checkout process

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. 

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Features like a postcode lookup option can help mobile shoppers by saving them time spent typing out the full address: 

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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. 

Multichannel options

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: 

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Conclusion

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. 

Graham Charlton

Published 11 October, 2010 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 (13)

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Daniel HAYTER, Project Manager at vente-privee.com

Thanks for this, I'm a fan of the full John Lewis website and find the mobile optimised site equally appealing. Very strange they've not done an auto redirect for mobile users though, as it's very simple to put in place.

almost 6 years ago

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Murat

Why is mobile web first the best approach? 

almost 6 years ago

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Daniel HAYTER, Project Manager at vente-privee.com

Because mobile web is not platform specific, as Apps are. A mobile website should work well with an iPhone, Android, Samsung, HTC, Windows phone etc... where Apps are built one platform at a time.

almost 6 years ago

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble, Marketing Director at Koozai

I am keen to try out the mobile site as I have brought from the main John Lewis site on numerous occasions and would be good to see how easy it is to use. Good to see that retailers are taking mobile users into consideration more and more now.

almost 6 years ago

Nico Koepke

Nico Koepke, CEO at KODIME LtdSmall Business

Great to see John Lewis deliver a decent mobile shopping experience, and good to see they opted for maximum market reach with mobile web rather than app-only - it will pay off especially long term. 

almost 6 years ago

Tejal Patel

Tejal Patel, Digital Manager at Nokia

I wonder if John Lewis have added weight to the argument that apps are just a flash in the pan for retailers? Surely the future is about decent mobile sites which provide a consistent user experience to that on fixed web. If enough brands invest in proper mobile sites, apps may just become relegated to pure entertainment.

almost 6 years ago

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Tamara@Adaptive

I think this is great! It's a sign of ecommerce progress and likely to be successful. According to Morgan Stanley Research, mobile internet adoption is outpacing the growth of desktop internet adoption. Moreover, mobile internet users are often much more engaged then regular internet users.

Bottom line: The more accessible the sales process is, the easier it is to nagivate, the more likely people will be to buy.

For more on designing web products for mobiles first read here; http://bit.ly/mobilesfirst 

almost 6 years ago

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Jason Ross

So far only the big digital players have really cracked mobile e-commerce with ebay leading the way. I think this is a smart move from JL. Don't understand the earlier comment about redirect as my phone does get auto redirect - this is vital to drive awareness. 

almost 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Jason John Lewis has now added the redirect for mobile users. 

almost 6 years ago

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kevin

hi this is me i want to know that what is that.?

almost 6 years ago

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Adizo

Does anyone know the company that designed the John Lewis website? I'll really appreciate a feedback.

thanks

over 4 years ago

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Gautam Kulkarni

Hi Andy, Many thanks for your research on mobile apps currently in market by UK retailers. All the best with your future and I hope you continue to provide more and more! Thanks

over 4 years ago

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Gautam Kulkarni

Hi Andy, Many thanks for your research on mobile apps currently in market by UK retailers. All the best with your future and I hope you continue to provide more and more info and insights! cheers

over 4 years ago

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