As jewelry store owners continue to hone their social media website skills and segue into location-based platforms such as foursquare and Gowalla, the need to have a mobile device optimized website becomes increasingly apparent.
Making such a move for Patrick and Kim Murphy, co-owners of Murphy Jewelers, was yet another tech-related conversation with their son Sean Murphy, head of the family business’s IT Department. Together they discussed the need to create a host of mobile device features to be launched throughout 2010.
Murphy’s mobile website comes at a good time. It coincides well with their recently launched “VIP Mobile Club,” which allows people to text the word “DIAMOND” to a designated number to receive mobile coupons and store updates. And, with mobile device savvy customers already using these two mobile features, it sets the stage nicely for the soon-to-be released native app for Murphy Jewelers, which is set to be released in time for the holiday shopping season.
Taking Murphy Jewelers’ main website from this, …
“Earlier this year these subjects came up as part of a big picture discussion for the family business,” says Sean. “The mobile website decision was a natural extension of our social media work and the mobile messaging launch plus my ultimate desire for a native app. For us, these mobile features are all about reaching different customers in different ways, allowing them to get information on us when and as they need it.”
With a degree in website development, Sean began the mobile device optimized website project knowing that simplicity and efficiency were key factors. Roughly 90 percent of his parent’s main website content was cut for the mobile version. Customary information sections such as the often text- and image-heavy “About Us” sections were the first to go.
The 10 percent of the main website that transferred over to the mobile website was mainly the contact information for the three stores, maps on how to find each store, store hours and some very basic store and product information. “We felt someone visiting our website on a phone would not be interested in our entire family history, for example, so we stripped all but the most relevant and important information in the context of this mobile experience.”
There’s also a link to the store’s main website should mobile device users care to visit a website that requires more effort and time to navigate. And, knowing mobile device users would be viewing the main website Sean removed features that slow page download speeds, such as Flash animation, which commonly don’t work well on such devices anyway.
“The mobile device website is not a replacement to the company’s main website,” says Sean. “It’s an enhancement to it.”
The main enhancement feature of the mobile website is being able to move with your customers as they’re on the go. Desktop searches end at the desk and it’s inconvenient to fire up a laptop just to check a store’s location and hours of operation. “Much of the success behind mobile devices, and the advantages found in targeting them by business such as ours, is all centered around the exciting fact they are always with your customer to afford information when they need it most,” says Sean.
One of the big pluses of having a mobile website is tapping into GPS technology. Directions to the store can be given from the user’s current location. And, a convenient phone link allows a user to scroll down to a phone number, and then push a button to call the store if needed. This is a huge convenience feature no matter where the user is located, be it on the road running errands or in a shopping mall sizing up other retail jewelry stores within easy driving distance.
Patrick and Kim Murphy have a distinct advantage with an IT-inclined son helping them advance their business. In addition to being more accessible to mobile device users, the couple is way ahead of the mobile device curve compared to other jewelers in their market.
Sean Murphy, the ‘IT Department’ at Murphy Jewelers.
“It’s one thing to have a main website, but it’s quite another to have a mobile device optimized website,” says Sean. “It’s very cutting-edge for retail jewelers to have this technology at this time.”
For retail jewelry store owners looking to create a mobile website, Sean says: “Strive for simplicity and design with this principle always in mind. Your mobile visitors are likely on the go, using one hand and a tiny screen – an encouraging reason to elegantly feature only relevant information. This represents a chance to really impress mobile visitors by anticipating, designing around, and meeting their needs and presenting only the information they are after, rather than frustrating them with a complicated interface and hard-to-find information. Simplicity and pertinence can facilitate a very satisfying user experience.”
And, for retailers confronted with an either-or scenario on whether to create a mobile device optimized website or an app, Sean suggests the former. “Native apps offer more of an immersive experience for the user but there’s also a greater risk of not getting it right or having an app that doesn’t meet the high expectations of mainly iPhone users,” says Sean. “But with a mobile devise optimized website, you’re essentially taking something you already have, your main website, and paring it down – less risk, greater reward.”