May 12/19, 2014; Volume 27/Number 27
By Jenna Lippin
In the May 13/20, 2013, issue of Floor Covering News, a story about mobile websites (“Popularity of ‘shopping on the go’ lends itself to mobile websites”) identified the importance of the enhanced sites for consumers who are looking for local retailers and attempting to view product options away from home. The developments in mobile computing over the last year have put the focus on responsive design, which takes all content on a website and makes it viewable and usable across any device and platform.
As predicted by John Weller, vice president of marketing for FloorForce, a company that specializes in website development and online marketing for flooring retailers, more consumers are surfing the web via mobile devices than ever before.
“[Mobile computing] is no longer the future,” Weller said. “Consumers are on phones and iPads, determining the future of every single retailer’s business. If you don’t have a mobile website or the website isn’t geared to mobile navigating, opportunities disappear. In this competitive industry, no one can afford losing opportunities.”
To help facilitate those opportunities, FloorForce is launching FloorForce 3.0 within the next month or so. The refreshed program is a new platform with features that weren’t available in the past, namely the responsive website. With this new format, as a user shrinks the size of a window, the look of the site is maintained. All content is self-formatted for any device; none of the functionality of the “regular” website is lost.
What most dealers have in mind when they hear “mobile website” is what is called a streamlined site, which shows only a small menu, usually giving access to four pages from a website: homepage, find us (locator), sales/promotions and contact information. According to Dan Gerrell, director of Internet marketing services at FloorForce, a responsive site is a better option than streamlined. “Responsive sites will be mobile optimized because it will take out what isn’t needed,” he explained. “For example, when the site is scaled down, the menu at the top goes away and becomes a drop-down feature, conforming to the size of a tablet or iPhone.”
Bob’s Carpet Mart, with 15 Tampa Bay-area locations, is a perfect example of how literally hundreds of additional opportunities can be brought to a dealer through a mobile website. According to FloorForce’s tracking function, 22% of Bob’s Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, with several hundred people using the store’s mobile site and click-to-call function.
“When they first launched this thing, they were ranting and raving about how many people clicked through to call,” recalled Gary Cissell, director of operations at Bob’s Carpet Mart. “I was skeptical. I asked our receptionist how the phones were since launching the click-to-call mobile function and she said she was getting swamped with people calling about our locations and stores and products; that happened right away.”
Cissell noted that Bob’s launched its mobile site as part of its integrated marketing strategy, which also included its desktop website, advertising techniques and merchandising plan. “[The mobile site] was just one portion of our entire process, and we knew we needed to have it because of how many people were using mobile devices to find product and stores.”
Along with changing the face of marketing, mobile usage is also having an affect on search engine optimization (SEO). According to Gerrell, the upcoming trend will take people away from searching with Google, encouraging them to be more comfortable with their mobile devices’ voice functions. Have you considered asking Siri where you can find the best deal for carpet within 10 miles?