The rise of e-commerce on smartphones and tablets is putting ever greater pressure on retailers to improve their mobile retail experience, according to Debenhams and Littlewoods Clearance.
With more retail channels on offer than ever before, the two retailers said that they now have to look beyond the starting point of the desktop for the first point of call for potential customers.
Ashley Payne, the head of digital operations at Debenhams Direct, said the firm has taken a measured approach to its mobile offerings as it does not have huge amounts of cash to splash on digital platforms.
"We have to get the balance right. We can't have bedroom developers making our apps – we can't tell shareholders we had app issues because someone went on holiday, but we don't have huge amounts of money to just throw at these challenges," he said.
"We have to make the most of what we've got. So we may do a lot of testing on the desktop website on how images are displayed. Should we have three larger images that show the product better or four images to show more products?"
"With 4G will come more people using tablets with 4G, so the percentage of people on tablets browsing the desktop site on the move will increase, so we're thinking about how 4G will affect desktop users accessing the site," Payne said.
With so much digital engagement the ability to access customers' data is growing, but Payne acknowledged that this was hard for the firm at present because most customers do not browse the site while logged in. This was an issue raised by the head of online at Littlewoods Clearance, Helena Ridsdale.
"We have to make our platforms mobile friendly and make sure we can break down the visit information, know where they have come from and so forth," she said.
Another issue that has proved challenging for Littlewoods is to get the company as a whole to understand the importance of social media in the online retail world to help address customer concerns and interact with buyers.
"Group security has only recently allowed us to have Facebook [at work]. This is a major step forward. We can now talk on social media at work as well as outside of it," she said.
E-commerce sales have been on the up for several years, with Christmas 2012 setting yet more records for firms like Amazon. This has seen several high street stores such as HMV and Jessops suffer as cash sales move online.
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