3The trend towards responsive web design is a development not to be neglected, especially since customers’ digital behavior has changed significantly in recent years. The requirements of different displays are usually taken into account and the structuring of individual elements - such as images, texts and navigation - is dynamically adapted to different mobile devices. This uniform presentation of content on all devices promotes usability and reinforces the recognition value. Besides that, responsive sites are ideal in terms of search engine optimization as a single URL is used.

Around half of all Internet users access the network via mobile and the trend has simply gained momentum. Thus, in view of these developments, companies should optimize their website for mobile devices in the future to make sure that their content is always displayed flawlessly.

Supposedly, 40% of all smartphone owners use mobile commerce, but around half of them have trouble to operate websites in an optimal way on their mobile devices. Annoying zooming and scrolling often lead to early termination of the buying process as well. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is definitely a good solution in such a case.

The international e-commerce specialist Venda advises to create online stores using RWD and promotes the advantages of the innovative technology to retailers and customers that I would like to summarize in the following:

1. Larger audience and more customers

Whether smartphones, laptops, tablets, or even watches: the possibilities seem limitless for mobile devices. Today, there are already more than two hundred different screen resolutions in use, posing a great challenge for online retailers. By the use of RWD, the target audience can be more easily reached and their numbers increased. Annoying zooming in and out, or the search for specific buttons, is passé. The buying experience is becoming smoother and better, consequently the number of impulse purchases, and hence new customers, increases.

2. Higher agility , lower costs

The set-up and planning of a RWD page tends to be more complex than creating the traditional "pixel perfect" pages, as responsive websites rely on an impeccable layout to create an adaptive and attractive design. This means that only key elements, such as logos and product descriptions, as well as the most important information, are integrated into fixed templates. More content consists of variables that then automatically adapt to the device and browser used. Despite its technical sophistication, a RWD page can nevertheless be maintained much more easily, as updates are done on a single template. Even content has to be added only once - an aspect that is particularly convincing in terms of speed and marketability. Due to RESS (Responsive Design and Server Side Components) many new design possibilities are available that allow not only just the screen sizes to be customizable, but content and functions can be individually adapted as well.

3. Optimum online channel supports offline business

A consistent and sophisticated application of responsive web design improves the user-friendliness and leads to higher conversion rates as well as a wider customer base, so that sales figures rise - and not only in the online business. An appealing website, accessible by all mobile devices, influences customers positively and sustainably, as the digital crowd wants to see the product range nowadays increasingly live and possibly in 3D. Customers receive another added value when retailers integrate a store finder in their mobile applications that shows the way to the shop.

Without doubt, the retail industry is more than ever facing the challenge to respond innovatively to a rapidly changing buying behavior. “In the future, it will be insufficient to operate an offline shop without a supporting multi-channel strategy," said Eric Abensur, CEO of Venda. "Responsive design is the key to link various online channels to each other and to provide a clear added value. Scrolling, zooming, and not recognizable product descriptions, or complicated ordering processes, are aspects that customers do not accept anymore. Responsive design helps to provide attractive and innovative content on all channels.”

Alternatively, there is of course still the possibility to simply build an app, but I think this solution is too expensive and inelegant, as it requires the most effort and binds the company to the conditions of the respective AppStore. Anyway, most of the criticisms mentioned such as lack of user-friendliness, long scrolling and load times, etc., are not dependent on the type of site, but by the content and the technical implementation, which again brings the thorough analysis and design into play. Hence, companies should determine their business goals and what they want to achieve with a mobile solution in advance.

Whatever path a company chooses, in the long run all need to adapt to the changed user behavior and align their websites flexibly. So, right now, let’s just be excited about the brave new shopping world and see what happens next.

By Daniela La Marca