Outdoor clothing and gear retailer Clear Water Outdoor, based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, began studying mobile visits to its e-commerce site in 2012, when the traffic was still in the single digits.
By the end of the year that percentage reached double digits and was growing fast, but the number of mobile visitors who actually decided to complete a transaction was far lower -- mainly because the store hadn't really thought about mobile device screens when designing and creating its content.
"Since 2009 to now, over half the traffic has become mobile, but almost nobody was purchasing this way," said Brian Waspi, one of three managing partners for the company, and the defacto CIO.
How much less than the regular site? Waspi figures Clear Water Outdoor's standard conversion rate is between 2 percent and 3 percent. The mobile ratio was almost neglible, less than 0.4 percent, which apparently is pretty typical of sites that aren't optimized for mobile browsing.
While Waspi won't disclose exact revenue figures, Clear Water Outdoor has about 27 full-time employees, and it generates approximately $1 million in sales annually for each of its two biggest stores, which are between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet in size. (It also operates a third, smaller location.)
Rather than trying to optimize the site on its own, Clear Water Outdoor opted to use a mobile service offered by an existing technology partner, Singlefeed, which it uses to help make sure that its site shows up in comparison shopping engines when online shoppers search for certain types of gear.
Singlefeed, in turn, has a partnership with a company called mShopper. The two offer a bundled service that converts the data feed that Singlefeed uses for search engines into a new, customized mobile Web site. Using this platform, Clear Water was able to create a mobile site in a matter of weeks, rather than months. Because it uses the same information as Singlefeed, changes are reflected dynamically. The Clear Water Outdoor team uses text message marketing to communicate with shoppers and share promotion offers; those orders are input later into the regular e-commerce site.
Since making the change early in summer 2013 over a two-week period of time, Clear Water Outdoor has seen more mobile vistors become buyers: the conversion rate is creeping up to almost 2 percent, Waspi said. And since mobile accounts for almost half of its Web site traffic, that's not an insignificant improvement. "Mobile wlll eventually exceed what the traditional site is doing," Waspi said.
That's a shift that's also anticipated by mShopper founder and CEO David Gould. "The problem is that the mobile shopper is a very difficult one to convert or communicate with," he said.
Clear Water Outdoor's return on investment is actually pretty typical of his company's customers, which often double or triple their mobile conversion rates after optimizing their e-commerce sites info "mStores" that work better with the interfaces of mobile devices.
Although its relationship with Singlefeed carries a different pricing structure, there is generally a setup fee (generally in the three- to four-figure range) to start using mShopper, along with a monthy service fee of $49 to $99 per month, Gould said.