Surprisingly, major brands without mobile-optimized sites still exist, and they will fall further behind the curve when “mobilegeddon” hits this week. Marking the biggest adjustment to its search algorithm in two years, Google will start favoring mobile-friendly sites in results on mobile devices.

The smartphone is increasingly influencing the purchase path, helping to drive in-store traffic and increasingly serving as a commerce platform. But while many brands have introduced or improved mobile sites over the past two years, laggards persist across Fashion, Beauty and Watches. For example, Guerlain, Versace and Invicta watches don’t yet have mobile sites. The more prevalent issue, however, is that too many mobile efforts simply “check the box” instead of providing true parity with the desktop experience.

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In Fashion, a comparison between mobile and desktop sites shows weaker support for video content, wish lists and access to user reviews. Michael Kors is the only Index brand that immediately asks mobile visitors for their location, allowing the site to auto-populate a persistent “Nearest Store” field. Still, while just under half of Index Fashion brands supported a mobile site in 2012, 80% did so by November 2014. Brands that made significant improvements last year include Escada, which launched its first mobile-optimized site, and La Perla, whose sophisticated mobile site now supports social logins and single-page checkout.

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The 54 Sportswear brands in the L2 Index have also made strides, with 87% supporting a mobile-optimized site in 2014 (up from 69% in 2013). Mobile Sportswear sites are getting more sophisticated and user-friendly, with 88% offering touch-friendly buttons, 73% supporting swipe gestures and 68% incorporating space-efficient navigation menus.

Nearly 40% of total search volume for Beauty brand terms occurs on a mobile device, up from 30% in 2013, and nearly all brand sites are now optimized for the mobile screen. However, prestige Beauty brands support lower levels of responsive design and swipe functionality compared with the Fashion and Watches & Jewelry categories, reflecting the Beauty category’s history of earlier mobile site investment.

 

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Prestige Watches & Jewelry brands are farthest behind in mobile, but they are waking up: 11 launched mobile sites in 2014. Cartier’s first mobile site, released in the U.S. in time for the 2014 holiday season, is 
a source of best practices, including swipe support, geolocation and click-to-call customer service options.

As mobile continues its penetration into all aspects of consumers’ lives, heavy investment in the platform will be critical to the digital strategy of every brand. For more on how prestige brands are performing in mobile, see L2’s Mobile & Luxury report.

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