While the impact of Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Fire Phone on the smartphone market is still unknown, its potential to influence the retail industry has already been made clear. But despite its potential, only a fraction of retailers have actually prepared their mobile sites for the new device's arrival.
According to a survey of 150 top mobile retail sites by Web optimization company Yottaa, just one in five online retailers have a mobile site that will display correctly on a Fire Phone. The other 78 percent will load the unoptimized desktop version of their site when opened, virtually guaranteeing a user experience that will send shoppers scrambling for the 'Back' button.
Mobile shoppers don't need much excuse to abandon a retail page on their phones or tablets, which is why it's surprising that so many retailers would be unprepared for the launch of a new smartphone.
But their sluggishness to adapt could prove even more costly in the long run than a few lost conversions. The Fire Phone is designed to make it as easy as possible to make purchases on Amazon.com. Users can move seamlessly from Web browsing to shopping, take advantage of Amazon Prime service, use the Firefly app to recognize products in-store and buy them on Amazon, even press a dedicated button that will bypass the phone's lock screen to take shoppers to a product page.
"This is the next big battleground in the ecosystem war," Ben Schachter, an analyst with Macquarie, told The New York Times of the Fire Phone's reveal last month. "Amazon is not going to turn the tide decisively in its favor with this, but just needs to establish a beachhead."
The more retail sites there are that redirect shoppers on Fire Phones to clunky desktop sites, the easier it is for Amazon to establish that beachhead. Digital retailers struggle to compete on price and the ability to offer free shipping as it is. On a device built to herd users toward the online retailer, unnecessary redirects are just another reason for shoppers to give up and turn to Amazon.
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