How George at ASDA boosted site speed and advanced customer engagement

In executing delightful mobile platforms, brands typically face three main challenges: culture, people, and insight . ASDA’s George.com team faced these issues head-on, by embracing a mobile-first approach, investing in new technologies to safeguard an exceptional mobile experience, and gathering proof points to justify further mobile development going forward.

About George.com
Leading UK clothing and home brand
Part of ASDA Walmart
Launched in 2008
About Isobar
Global digital agency
Part of Dentsu Aegis Network
Founded in 2003
Goal
Deliver seamless customer experience
Improve engagement
Drive customer retention
Increase mobile focus
Approach
Applied a mobile-first approach
Upgraded site to a progressive web app (PWA)
Adopted accelerated mobile pages (AMP)
Results
31% increase in mobile conversion since upgrading to PWA
1.71X faster site speed
32% improvement in click-through rate from organic mobile traffic for top 500 AMP queries
15% increase in page views per visit
Ranked number one for site speed for mobile retail in the UK by Ampersand in 2017

“The customer shift to more screens has impacted our strategy in a way that we need to be mobile-first – no matter how traditional we are”, explains Perry Lally, Senior Product Manager for Walmart Global eCommerce. “It is extremely important – no matter what device a customer visits from – that the experience across devices is the same.”

With 65% of customers visiting the site on a mobile device, ASDA’s George.com team upgraded to a progressive web app (PWA), a technology that enables app-like experiences on the mobile web. George.com’s PWA site gives users the ability to receive push notifications, add the site to their homescreens, search for it on the open web and access pages even when network quality is poor.

After attending a Google Hackathon event, ASDA then conducted some analysis into accelerated mobile pages (AMP). While AMP technology was initially used mainly by news publishers, the ASDA team saw its value in stepping up page load time in the ecommerce arena. Today over 23,000 of these pages are live across George.com’s product, listings and content pages such as the homepage.

The investments have delivered significant returns for George.com. Since the move to PWA, mobile conversions have increased by 31%. And since the adoption of AMP, site speed is now 1.71 times faster, which has produced a notable impact on engagement. For instance, there’s been a 32% increase in the click-through rate from organic mobile traffic for the top 500 AMP queries, while page views per visit have leapt up by 15%.

“The partnership with Google and Isobar is key to helping us take our site experience to the next level with regards to progressive web apps and accelerated mobile pages. Speed is king and we want to be the fastest site in the market.”

– Perry Lally, Senior Product Manager, Walmart Global eCommerce

“The success of launching AMP on George.com has opened up new opportunities for both customer experience and site speed”, Perry affirms. While the current AMP experience is only available on the first page a customer sees when coming from Google, the positive results so far mean the team can now look to combine multi-AMP page experiences with PWA to enable fast, beautiful mobile visits.

“After being ranked number one for site speed for mobile retail in the UK by Ampersand in 2017, we want to go faster exploring new technologies and innovations”, Perry says. “What we need to remember is site speed and performance have a direct correlation to key metrics such as conversion, revenue per visit, average order value and so forth. If your site is fast and doesn’t have performance-related issues, customers will engage!”

Learning from George.com

The technology and know-how exists to build more compelling mobile experiences that drive better business results. But internal challenges often block good execution and cause negative experiences, which result in poor commercial performance.

These internal challenges can be grouped into three key areas:

#1 Insight

Product backlogs are long and slow moving. This leads to product teams prioritising work they know how to estimate, rather than new features where it’s hard to assess the impact.

#2 People and training

Many development teams spend the majority of their time working on technical debt, such as old code that wasn’t optimised for performance or third parties that are hardly used. If teams are always fixing the past, your assets will rapidly fall behind the experience your consumers expect.

#3 Culture

Many brands claim to be mobile-first, but don’t have the processes and culture in place to be really mobile focused. Do you design, build and test on mobile? Do you ask third parties to be mobile-first? Are your teams able to work within the constraints inherent in mobile? If not, then chances are your consumer will see the output through frustrating experiences.

Overcoming these challenges leads to better execution, better experience and therefore better performance ­– as George.com’s success story demonstrates.

Watch this space, in the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more success stories of brands that have recognised the importance of building a business case to double down on mobile developments and deliver real value to the business and consumer.

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