After experimenting with a separate mobile site, online retailer Treadmill Doctor decided to go the responsive design route in April 2014 and has experienced significant mobile growth since.

The Treadmill Doctor is reaping the benefits of responsive design.

The online retailer of repair and replacement parts for home exercise equipment switched to a responsive design site in April 2014, and a year later mobile sales have grown more than 100%.

The Treadmill Doctor experienced a 102.71% increase in mobile revenue during March 2015, compared to March 2014, the month before it made the switch. Responsive design is a format that adapts the look of a retail website to the device the consumer is using. It uses one code base, meaning retailers don’t have to operate several sites to account for the many types of screens consumers use to access the Internet.

Mobile, which includes both smartphones and tablets, accounted for 29.01% of website traffic in March 2015 compared to 22.72% in March 2014. The mobile conversion rate also doubled.

“We were seeing a trend in behavior with mobile devices that we had to adapt to,” says Brady Freeman, director of e-commerce, about why the retailer switched to responsive design a year ago.  


After six-months of planning and developing the new site with web developer Webgrity, Treadmill Doctor launched its responsive design site in April 2014. Treadmill Doctor says the project cost $137,000.  

The peak of Treadmill Doctor’s busy season is in the first half of January, says Treadmill Doctor’s president Brodie Johnson. As many consumers make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, this is the time when fitness is top of mind and many consumers are exercising indoors, he says.

From Jan. 1-14, 2015, mobile revenue increased 47.01% compared to the same two weeks the previous year. Mobile accounted for 21.33% of revenue during this time period. Mobile conversion rate during that time also nearly doubled compared with a year earlier.

Between April 2011 and March 2013 the Treadmill Doctor had a separate mobile-optimized, m-dot, site. Consumers used the mobile site to read reviews and research products, but very few purchased, Freeman says. When the retailer switched its e-commerce software provider from NetSuite Inc. to Magento Inc., it decided the mobile site wasn’t worth maintaining.

“We didn’t feel we had the resources to move the m-dot over into Magento,” Freeman says.


However, the decision not to maintain the mobile site meant consumers who visited the Treadmill Doctor’s website on their smartphones now had to pinch to zoom as they sought to navigate the site, Freeman says. Eventually, the retailer decided to go the responsive design route using Webgrity. The Treadmill Doctor liked that responsive design only used one code base to operate the desktop, tablet and mobile sites, unlike a separate mobile site. That way it could make a change once—such as adding a product or changing a price—rather than doing it twice for both the web and mobile sites. The retailer also made sure a shopper could check out on one page to shorten the purchase process, Freeman says.

While the Treadmill Doctor in part credits its increase in mobile traffic and revenue to the responsive design site, the retailer also attributes its mobile gains to a change in consumer behavior. Smartphones are faster and more user friendly than they were a few years ago, making purchasing easier, Freeman says.

“We made the move at the right time,” Freeman says.


Follow mobile business journalist April Dahlquist, associate editor, mobile, at Internet Retailer, at @MobileStrat360A.


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