Chapter 7 – Delivering the digital customer experience
• Mobile design requirements and techniques
• The Internet of Things
• Virtual reality and augmented reality
• Online retail merchandising
• Evaluating the impact of service quality on e-loyalty
Mobile design requirements and techniques
Smartphone access has become the dominant mode of accessing websites apart from business-
to-business sectors where people research solutions at work. So, designing effective websites
across mobile and desktop devices is now a key consideration for all businesses.
At Mobile World Congress in 2010, Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, suggested
that mobile-first design should be used in future, given the rapidly growing importance of
Mobile-first design: A process that starts from smaller mobile screens to create the best user
experience for people using websites via smartphones. The aim is to encourage simple,
The term is still used at present, and its aims of simplicity and minimalism are commendable.
Still, it can be misleading since it doesn’t describe an agreed methodology or a design technique.
It doesn’t recognise that in some sectors, such as B2B, more users may use larger-screen desktop
platforms, so it may be desirable to tailor the experience to the space available.
There are emerging approaches that companies use nowadays, such as:
• Responsive web design (RWD)
• Adaptive design
• Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
• Progressive Web Apps
• Native mobile apps
I. Responsive web design (RWD) : Responsive web design, or RWD, is a design approach
that addresses the range of devices and device sizes, enabling automatic adaption to the
screen, whether the content is viewed on a tablet, phone or television. Responsive web
design (RWD) enables a single version of the site and content to be maintained, which adapts
to different resolutions. It was formerly called a ‘fluid design’, since the layout ‘flows’ as the
resolution is changed. Responsive design is a preferred technique for web developers to
design website styling that changes the display layout to suit users of mobile and desktop
II. Adaptive design: A more sophisticated approach than responsive web design involves
delivering an experience optimised for targeted handsets.
Adaptive mobile web design combines client- and server-based logic to give the best
performance and experience on priority devices with fewer speed limitations than the
responsive approach. The approach can result in a faster experience, although development
times and costs can be higher, so it is an approach best suited to larger businesses.
III. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) : A standard to increase page download speed
on mobile devices. In August 2016, Google announced that these faster-loading page
formats would appear in all search results, not just news results, have become more
relevant for all businesses other than publishers. Despite the benefits of speed and
relative ease of setup using the same content base, AMPs are still mainly used by
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IV. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) : A development technique that combines the benefits of
web and mobile apps to create digital experiences enabling users to install web apps to their
home screen, receive push notifications and potentially work offline. PWAs are a relatively
recent innovation that Google has also supported. They offer many of the benefits of apps but
do not have to be created separately for different app stores and websites.
MakeMyTrip™, a travel booking site in India, launched a PWA to offer all Indian smartphone
users a practical and reliable mobile booking experience regardless of time, location or
network availability. The company saw conversion rates triple and a 160 per cent increase in
V. Native mobile apps: Designed to run on smartphones and tablet computers, apps provide
users rich mobile content by deploying the handset’s multiple native capabilities. Native
mobile apps installed onto smartphones or tablets from the Google Play Store for Android or
the Apple App store for iOS are a further option that can be considered separately for creating
more engaging, more personalised mobile experiences.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of things (IoT) make our devices and homes more intelligent and efficient. Different marketing
outcomes possible using IoT technology, including new product development, customer support and CRM.
Porter and Heppelmann (2015) explain that all connected products, from home appliances to industrial
equipment, share three core elements:
• physical components (such as mechanical and electrical parts);
• smart components (sensors, microprocessors, data storage, controls, software, an embedded operating
system and a digital user interface); and
• connectivity components (ports, antennae, protocols and networks that enable communication between
the product and the product cloud, which runs on remote servers and contains the product’s external
Together with their infrastructure, this gives connected products new product capabilities.
Marketing applications of connected products:
• Products as media - Some connected products with screens can be used for ads, which will be
more valuable if they are personalised.
E.g., Rebecca Minkoff bags announced that all its future bags would be smart. A code would
unlock exclusive offers and experiences with Rebecca Minkoff and automatically qualify the
customer for a loyalty programme. It also provided e-commerce services, private styling
sessions with Rebecca, style recommendations, video content and an invitation to the next
• Products as a service - The ‘smart home’ control products are examples of this. These services
are often administered via mobile or desktop apps. This gives opportunities to keep
audiences engaged through notifications when they are timely, rather than the previous
system of monthly bills.
• Products as connected ecosystems - Within the home context, many popular smart-home IoT
clouds are on the market, Apple HomeKit™, Google Nest™.
Virtual reality and Augmented reality
• Virtual reality (VR): Virtual reality headset and software technology creates immersive
three dimensional spaces that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary
• Jonathan Steuer (1992) was one of the first to recognise the potential of VR when he
reviewed the technological variables influencing what he described as telepresence.
• These included interactivity factors such as speed, range and mapping, and vividness factors
such as breadth and depth.
• The use of VR in marketing has been limited despite the growing popularity of VR headsets
such as those from Oculus and lower-cost options such as Google Cardboard, Google
Daydream and YouTube 360. This is partly due to the limited adoption of devices by
• Augmented reality (AR): Unlike VR, augmented reality supports and enhances real-
world interactions. For example, retailers can enable consumers to try new clothing or
glasses using AR devices.
• Augmented reality marketing applications are an example of mixed reality. AR has the
benefit that it can be experienced on smartphones, triggered by the camera scanning a
code or photograph, without the need for more sophisticated technology.
Content design and Content audits
• Content marketing The management of text, rich media, audio and video content aimed at
engaging customers and prospects to meet business goals published through print and digital
Videos, podcasts, user-generated content and interactive product selectors should also be
considered as content, which should be refined to engage issues.
• Content mapping is a powerful practical technique to review the current use of content
hosted on a website and distributed through different channels. It is a process that helps
business to understand their audience better.
Before a business can decide where to prioritize content improvements across its digital assets, it needs to
evaluate what needs improving, and why, using a content audit.
A structured review of the effectiveness of different content types and formats to meet the needs of users
and the business, using quantitative and qualitative techniques.
Scannability and skimmability
Scannability is the use of writing and formatting techniques that compensate for the fact that most people
don’t fully read content on the web. These techniques help give online readers an overview to navigate the
Skimmability is using shorter copy and formatting techniques to make it easier to read text once the
reader has found context through scanning.
Hofacker (2000) described five stages of human information processing when a website is being used.
These can be applied to both page design and content design to improve usability and help companies get
their message across to consumers.
Online Retail Merchandising
• WEB MERCHANDISING: The aim of web merchandising is to maximise the sales potential of an online
store for each visitor. This means connecting the right products with the right offer to the right visitor.
• For online retail site owners, web merchandising is a crucial activity, in the same way, it is for physical retail
store owners. In both cases, the aims are similar – to maximise sales potential for each store visitor. This
means presenting relevant products and promotions to site visitors, which should help boost key
performance measures, such as conversion rate and average order value.
They do this through :
• Expanding navigation through synonyms.
• Applying faceted navigation or search approaches
• Featuring the best-selling products prominently
• Use of bundling
• Use of customer ratings and reviews
Evaluating the impact of service quality on e-loyalty
Delivering service quality in e-commerce can be assessed by reviewing existing marketing
frameworks to determine service quality levels.
Those most frequently used are based on the concept of a ‘service–quality gap’ between the
customer’s expected level of service (from previous experience and word-of-mouth
communication) and their perception of the actual level of service delivery.
• Tangibles – the physical appearance of facilities and communications.
• Reliability – the ability to perform the service dependably and accurately.
• Responsiveness – a willingness to help customers and provide prompt service.
• Assurance – employees’ knowledge, courtesy, and ability to convey trust and confidence.
• Empathy – providing caring, individualised attention.
Two of the most significant frameworks for assessing online
service quality are:
WEBQUAL - which considers 14 dimensions.
• Information quality, Customer service
• Functional fit to task, Tailored communications
• Trust, Response time
• Ease of understanding, Innovativeness
• Intuitive operations, Visual appeal,
• Emotional appeal, Consistent image,
• Online completeness, Relative advantage
E-SERVQUAL - contains seven dimensions.
The first four are classified as the core service
scale, and the latter three dimensions are regarded
as a recovery scale.
This case is about a specialist travel and education company, focusing on its online TEFL (teaching
English as a foreign language) courses. The company’s site combines many of the features we have
described in this chapter, blending accessibility, usability and persuasion. This case considers the
challenges of delivering an effective design across different markets for different audiences.
i-to-i (www.i-to-i.com) is an international organization based in Leeds with offices in the United
States, Ireland and Australia. Around 200,000 people have graduated from i-to-i as TEFL teachers.
The main segmentation used by i-to-i is geographic:
• United Kingdom;
• North America;
• Australia and New Zealand;
• rest-of-world (same as United Kingdom).
Different brochures are available for each geographical area. Information is also collected on an
optional basis about prospects’ age and status, although this is not used for targeting emails.
• Careful planning and execution of website and mobile app implementation is important to
avoid the need for extensive reworking later if the design proves ineffective.
• Analysis, design and implementation should form a prototyping approach based on usability
testing that meets business and user requirements.
• For websites in the retail sector, there are specific considerations we have reviewed,
including mobile apps, personalisation, web merchandising and the Internet of Things.