Only 1 in 5 Retailers Are Ready for the Amazon Fire Phone

Jul 27, 2014 2:43 PM  By

Amazon Fire phone Walmart

Walmart was one of the sites on the list that has an “m.dot” site but didn’t redirect when tested on the sample Fire phone. The left image is what is intended to load, the right is the desktop screen (this is what will load for Fire Phone users).

What do Gymboree, PetSmart and Spanx.com all have in common? They are three of only a handful of top e-retailers fully optimized to display mobile sites on the new Amazon Fire phone.

As the first of Amazon’s Fire phones start shipping on July 25, it’s still unclear how many consumers will turn to the Fire as their go-to mobile device.

But one thing is for certain: Many of the top online retailers (besides Amazon) are not prepared for it. In fact, only one out of every five e-retailers with a mobile (m.) site is optimized to display properly on the Fire phone’s screen.

Analysis of retail sites displaying on Amazon’s Fire phone

Our mobile and web optimization company Yottaa sampled 150 of the top mobile retail sites and found that a majority of users (78 percent) accessing those mobile retail sites using a Fire Phone will be shown the unoptimized desktop version of the site – a surefire poor experience on a phone. Loading the clunky desktop version is going to have a negative impact on user experience, and will likely decrease brands’ mobile conversions on a Fire phone.

Yottaa ran tests on the top retail websites with a user agent string that matches that of existing devices with the Fire platform and several others, including the iPhone. The results showed that only 33 redirected Fire Phone visitors to mobile sites, meaning 117 top retail sites that have invested in a mobile (m.) site will fail to recognize the Fire Phone as a mobile device. Sites with responsive design are spared any possibility of mistake in this case – but they come with their share of problems too. Sites using responsive design weren’t included in the story because they automatically adjust to screen size.

Why it matter that brands put their best foot forward in front of Goliath (Amazon)

Much has already been made of the Fire phone’s integration with shopping. No one is surprised that the preeminent online retailer’s first smartphone would seamlessly weave in its shopping experience. Users of the Fire phone will be able to move from browsing the web to shopping and will have an unlimited subscription to Amazon’s Prime service (including the irresistible free two-day shipping feature). For merchants already desperate to prize customers away from Amazon’s shopping environment, this phone – if successful – will make the uphill battle even steeper.

That’s why this seemingly small mobile redirect issue really matters. In a crowded online marketplace where tiny tweaks to copy, design and performance can mean thousands of dollars gained or lost, presenting an obsolete website version on a mobile device means you are as good as offline.

Put differently, even if your brand can compete with Amazon on price (not many can) or offer free shipping to everyone (again, very difficult to do), it’s doubtful potential customers are going to want to navigate your site on a mobile device having to pinch, zoom and make tedious clicks really only relevant on a desktop. Especially when they have the ease of Amazon’s shopping experience at their fingertips.

Ari Weil is the VP of Products at Yottaa, a cloud-based acceleration platform that drives user engagement to increase business impact across online and mobile channels. Email Ari at aweil@yottaa.com; tweet him @aweil.