So, last night I was searching online via my smart phone for how a person should go about cleaning and renewing rather expensive oiled leather clogs. The snow and wet from this winter season is beginning to take its toll on my incredibly comfortable shoes. Anyway, I was having a hard time finding any information and decided to head to the website of the store where I purchased them to see what I could find. This is what came up:

Mobile Commerce Optimization FAIL

Total mobile commerce optimization failure. (Please note that I have blocked out the name of the retailer as I don’t want to shame anyone, merely call to the attention of my readers that mobile commerce can still be a tricky undertaking for many established organizations.)

Okay, so I will give the store credit for attempting to provide a mobile ecommerce experience, although the attempt turned out to be an example of what not to do. A mobile format of the website appears, but the links on the page are stacked one on top of the other, making the page hard to read and the links impossible to use. The store’s attempt at mobile ecommerce is so far from functional that it makes the mobile site all but impossible to interact with. What’s more, the links at the bottom of the page–where the “view full site” link resides–are stacked one on top of the other, making it impossible to click the link to bypass the mobile site and use the traditional full-sized website instead. In short, the visitor is stuck with a site that is, for all intents and purposes, inoperable.

What can manufacturers and distributors learn about mobile ecommerce from this example of mobile commerce gone wrong? Glad you asked.

Choose the right mobile template. I’m not sure if the shoe store created their mobile page internally or whether they farmed out the design to someone else. Regardless of the approach that they took, the mobile site design missed the mark with crowded and inoperable text links. Choosing the right template (and mobile ecommerce provider!) will make a huge difference on the functionality of your mobile ecommerce site.

Choose the right mobile ecommerce provider. The reality is that mobile ecommerce is not the same as traditional ecommerce. This means that your current ecommerce provider might be able to help you with your mobile site–or, they might not. The key is to evaluate the mobile sites that your current provider has online and decide whether or not something similar will work for your organization. If not, don’t hesitate to partner with a third party mobile commerce specialist to get your mobile site up and running.

Test, test, test. Then test some more. Stumbling upon this mobile site makes me wonder whether anyone tested this mobile commerce site before it was published to the Web. Quite frankly, I’m pretty sure they didn’t–at least not on all of the leading current mobile devices. I was using a fairly obscure smart phone made by the company that rhymes with Schmapple to view this mobile web page. (Okay, so maybe not so obscure.) How did this mobile commerce site get out of the beta testing phase? How is it that no one has noticed that their site is failing miserably? Is this what Android smart phone owners see? I get that code Gremlins make wonky things happen, but as a consumer-focused retail site, shouldn’t someone be checking with this site on a regular basis–or at least before it goes live? Yeah, I thought so too.

If you are going to have a mobile ecommerce site–and I highly suggest that you do–I would also suggest that you take the time to find the right mobile commerce partner offering the right page design and functionality for your business. Then test that mobile site on all of the browsers and devices you can think of to ensure that you are providing the quality of mobile commerce experience that today’s consumer expects.