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Johnston & Murphy sets stage for mobile ad campaigns with responsive design

Johnston & Murphy screenshot

Apparel company Johnston & Murphy will consider adding mobile-specific marketing to its media mix now that it has revamped its Web site with responsive design technology. 

The company switched to responsive design from an m-dot site because it was too much effort to manage two different sites, said Heather Marsh, vice president of ecommerce at Johnston & Murphy. She said the company has implemented the back-end technology for the transition, and is planning a more comprehensive revamp of the Web site this fall. 

“The switch to responsive design will facilitate mobile-marketing campaigns,” she said. 

Johnston & Murphy currently tests to ensure that its email messages and other marketing communications render well on mobile, but the company does not yet create specific campaigns specifically for mobile devices. 

“Our goal is to provide the same level of service across all channels, so we’re not really doing any mobile-specific promotions yet,” Ms. Marsh said. “But as we look at our media plan going forward, we will consider targeting media buys toward mobile now that have the responsive site.” 

Johnston & Murphy is a division of Genesco Inc., based in Nashville, TN. It markets footwear, apparel and accessories for men and women through retail stores, direct mail and via its Web site. 

The company recently migrated its digital commerce operations onto a new platform, Demandware Commerce, to better integrate its online and offline capabilities. Johnston & Murphy is using responsive Web design in an effort to optimize mobile shopping experiences. It has offered mobile commerce capabilities since 2012.

Redesign planned 
The transition so far has been largely invisible to consumers, Ms. Marsh said. However, the company plans to launch a redesigned Web site this fall once it becomes accustomed to the new technology from the back end.

“This is a two-step process with Demandware,” she said. “One is to get the technology in place, and get comfortable with the technology, and then in the fall we will launch a redesign.” 

Because the company has switched from an m-dot site to responsive design technology, consumers probably have not seen much difference so far, Ms. Marsh said. She also said she was not aware of any significant negative feedback from customers after the transition. 

“The site still renders well on a mobile device,” she said. “I can say that we did not lose any commerce by going to responsive design.” 

Ms. Marsh said the company intentionally did not launch the consumer-facing redesign at the same time as the switch to responsive design technology on the back end, which has been in place about a month. Johnston & Murphy is delaying the customer-facing redesign so that it can better attribute any changes in customer conversion rate that result, she said.

Responsive design challenges 
Ms. Marsh said that responsive Web design does present some challenges for marketers. 

“Some experiences will not translate well on mobile,” she said. “So the question is, what do you do? Do you not have them available on mobile? 

“We want people to have the same experience with us everywhere,” Ms. Marsh said. “With responsive Web design, it just takes some more work to get through it and write some custom code for the mobile device.” 

As an example, she cited navigation as an aspect of the desktop Web site that had to be reconsidered for mobile. Johnston & Murphy has hover navigation on its traditional Web site, which does not work on mobile devices. 

“We spent a lot of time talking about navigation,” Ms. Marsh said. “I would not say we have a mega-menu today, but this whole idea of how does the mega-menu translate to mobile, we spent a lot of time on.” 

In a presentation at Mobile Commerce Daily’s recent Mobile Research Summit: Data & Insights 2014 in New York, one responsive Web design expert said that page-download times are a key metric for marketers to consider when implementing the change to responsive Web design. 

“You need to think about milliseconds, not seconds, when it comes to page load times on mobile,” said Ken Harker, an Austin, TX-based senior consultant at Keynote Systems

He said Web sites should take no longer than two or three seconds to load on mobile devices (see story).

Ms. Marsh said Johnston & Murphy still considers its efforts to be in the testing stage, but is pleased with the initial results after the first month. 

 “So far it’s been good, and we’re happy that we’ve moved to responsive design,” she said. “We’re still testing, and trying to get some feedback from consumers. There’s been no feedback so far, which usually is a good sign.”

Final Take
Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer.

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Related content: Software and technology, Johnston and Murphy, Heather Marsh, Demandware, responsive Web design

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