5 Reasons Why Responsive Web Design Sucks for Ecommerce Businesses

September 06, 2013
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According to a new projection from Forrester Research Inc., US e-retail sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 10% over the next five years, topping out at $370 billion in 2017 (Source: Forrester). This is huge for the ecommerce industry.

The largest driver behind this growth will be mobile devices. eMarketer Inc. estimates that US retail mobile commerce sales will reach nearly $39 billion in 2013, up 56.5% over 2012 and almost triple the amount spent in 2011 (Source: eMarketer). Mobile commerce is definitely on the rise!

A large number of ecommerce businesses are aware of these statistics, nonetheless, most are unsure if they should implement a mobile optimized or a responsive web design website.

It sounds like an easy decision. After all, 2013 has been hailed by Mashable as “the year of responsive web design” (Source: Mashable). However, there are several reasons why responsive design is not always the right choice for ecommerce businesses! Here are 5 reasons to consider before deciding to invest in a responsive design website over a fully mobile optimized solution:

1.) Bad Web Performance
Responsive web design is still a new technology, and even though new developments and improvements are made constantly, most sites do not function perfectly. Large files and images equal slow performance and a bad user experience which has a profound effect on online consumer behavior.

64% of respondents, in a survey conducted by Forrester Consulting, reported that they would simply purchase from another shop if they had a bad experience on an online shop (Source: Akamai).

2.) Slow Loading Time
Mobile users have slower internet connections and responsive web design requires them to load the same heavy front codes as desktop user, which significantly increases loading time. This is detrimental for ecommerce. A Gomez and Akamai study concluded that 40% will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (Source: KISSmetrics).

3.) Longer Checkout Time and Higher Cart Abandonment Rate
Poor user experience is strongly correlated to higher shopping cart abandonment rates. According to a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive, nearly half of mobile consumers (47%) said that they did not complete a purchase because the checkout process took too long (Source: Jumio). This is obviously a major obstacle for slow loading responsive design websites, which do not provide the same user experience as a separate mobile optimized solution.

4.) Bad for Sales
Higher cart abandonment rates means lower conversion rates. The only way to ensure higher conversion rates is by providing a better user experience. On the positive side, Econsultancy concluded that 62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales. (Source: Econsultancy). So there is a solution to increasing sales, however, responsive design might not be your best bet.

5.) Not an Affordable Web Development
The development of a good responsive design website can be pricy because the whole site has to be redesigned. Mobile optimized websites are usually a more affordable option in comparison to responsive web design sites.

Apparently, responsive web design has several flaws. These need to taken into consideration before deciding for or against a responsive web design. For a more in-depth comparison of the pros and cons of responsive web design read Shopgate’s newly published white paper.

This is a guest post written by Kacey Kenney from Shopgate. Original and exclusive posts are considered for features on Capture The Conversation. If you are interested in writing a guest post for us, send us an email.

About Brandon Whalen

Brandon is Head of Marketing at Room 214. As a social media strategist he has worked on the social media presence for multiple world-wide brands including Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain and Hello Kitty. Brandon's work has resulted in growth of multiple millions of new fans on various social media networks for clients. As a contributor to Capture The Conversation and Word of Mouth Marketing Association's All Things WOMM blog, Brandon covers a big range of topics from social media marketing news to digital marketing strategy guides. Outside of work he is an active musician and lead singer for a band called My Body Sings Electric. You can catch the band playing shows around Denver or the west coast a few times a year. Want to connect with Brandon when he's not singing, writing, rooting on the Colorado Rockies or staying fit? Check his Facebook account, follow him on Twitter @Brandonsings, or head to Brandon's account on Google Plus.

7 Comments

  • Jesse says:

    Nice article, I think the shopping cart checkout process is the most important issue. If responsive isn’t going to give you the best mobile checkout process you can have, it’s not the solution that will maximize your sales.

  • Nyle says:

    I can never agree more with you Jesse . Going mobile is a must for every business right now but you have to make sure that it delivers or answers to what your customer needs.

  • Tim says:

    I would say the title of the article is wrong. ’5 reasons why BAD responsive design with BAD UX sucks for ecommerce businesses’ seems to be more appropriate.

  • […] Responsive Design Websites haben längere Ladezeiten. Es muss der gesamte HTML-Code geladen werden, obwohl nur ein Bruchteil davon angezeigt wird. 40% aller Einkäufer verlassen eine Website, die länger als 3 Sekunden lädt. 47% der Einkäufer geben an, den Bestellvorgang abgebrochen zu haben, weil der Kaufabwicklungsprozess zu lang gedauert hat. http://www.capturetheconversation.com/mobile/5-reasons-why-responsive-web-design-sucks-for-ecommerce… […]

  • D says:

    Interesting, it seems like 4 of your reasons are all due to performance, and the other is with not willing to invest in an actual responsive design. Great commentary!

  • ukstorelab says:

    Awesome post dude I have found some cool ideas regarding why Responsive Web Design Sucks for Ecommerce Businesses?. The largest and most successful eCommerce stores in the world, Ebay and Amazon, are not using responsive design for eCommerce because they have seen that having a focused mobile store allows mobile users to find and buy products in the quickest and easiest way possible.

  • Ruan says:

    Part of the problem is the use of responsive themes. These dont deliver a custom mobile user experience, but merely the same elements squeezed into a smaller viewport.

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