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Hatching a new website? Online retailers must think mobile first, a Newegg exec says

Posted on Mar 24, 2015

BY TRACY MAPLE Managing Editor, Digital Content: Internet Retailer

Retailers have to focus on reaching consumers on their mobile devices, says Soren Mills, chief marketing officer for Newegg North America, who spoke Tuesday at the IRCE Focus: Digital Design conferencein Los Angeles.

And, at the same time, online merchants have to distinguish their sites; the web-only electronics retailer weaves content and community to recreate the specialty store experience in an online setting. Newegg Inc., No. 17 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, sells products in 11 countries, and as mobile traffic  begins to surpass desktop traffic, companies have to think differently about how they develop their mobile sites and apps because the days of trying to stuff content from an entire website into a mobile site or app are gone, Mills said. In India,Flipkart Ltd., a web-only mass merchant and online marketplace operator, gets about 80% of its traffic and about 60% of sales from mobile, so it might make sense for the company to take a mobile-only approach, he said.

For Newegg, mobile sales increased 54% in 2014, and 24% of the company’s traffic came from mobile devices. But that doesn’t mean Newegg focuses its design solely on handheld mobile devices. Newegg, which is based in City of Industry, Calif., in August debuted what it calls the Newegg Express, a van that provides same-day delivery to consumers in the Los Angeles market.  

And Newegg this month rolled out the latest version of Gamecrate.com, a content site with reviews and news aimed at gamers. The new design includes a new home page structure, article layouts, video capabilities and image galleries. Newegg creates more than 1,000 videos a year, and it breaks them down into “snack-able bits” that can be easily digested by visitors to its website or at Gamecrate.com, Mills said.

Newegg and other online-only retailers are being squeezed on one side by Amazon, No. 1 in the Top 500 Guide, and on the other side by retailers with stores and websites, such as Best Buy Co. Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Mills said. “It’s difficult to compete on a commoditized price basis. You need to create a compelling customer experience,” he said. “We have to give a customer a really specific reason to come to us.”

Measuring consumers’ engagement with a brand used to be a funnel-shaped process that started with marketing and included brand awareness, interest and commitment to bring a consumer to the point of purchase. That model has been deconstructed and fragmented so that consumers determine the process of buying a product or service. “It’s not a tidy little box. The customer has kind of disintegrated,” Mills said. “(Consumers) want to be dated—have a relationship. We profile our customers and serve them dynamically based on where we think we’re at in a relationship with them.”

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