Online retailer Carved boosted its mobile speed, Google ranking, mobile sales and conversion rate with Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web App technology.

Mobile traffic to Carved LLC has grown 121% in the past four years as consumers on smartphones make up a growing share of the web-only retailer of wood products’ overall traffic. Smartphone traffic accounted for 62% of its web visits in 2017, up from just 28% in 2013.

To cater to this small-screen audience, Carved founder and president John Webber knew mobile speed had to be a top priority to convert those smartphone browsers into purchasers. Plus, many of Carved’s 1,200 SKUs are wooden smartphone cases, so the retailer’s shopper base is more likely to be a smartphone-savvy shopper. “It’s the type of mobile traffic that would be willing to convert over a device,” Webber says.

I would much rather be early to the party.

Over the years, Webber has kept up with trends in mobile site design, first building a separate mobile site, then having a responsive design website. When Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages for e-commerce sites, Webber wanted in. AMP allows retailers to build lightweight mobile pages that load as fast as possible when a consumer comes to site from smartphone search results.

“Google had a demo site, and I whipped together my demo page and a product page, and in just a quick test I was amazed at the speed. I thought, ‘We’ve got to get it on our site,’” Webber says.

Site speed is important to Carved, especially on mobile devices, because many activities, such as email and text messages, compete for attention on a consumer’s smartphone, Webber says.

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“If I hit a website from Google search, click a link and if that page takes five, six seconds to load, I’m making a judgment that every single page on that site will take that long to load, and I don’t have the time to wait. I’m just going to search Amazon,” Webber says.

Carved hired WompMobile to build its AMP pages, and they took a few months to deploy. At first, Carved did not direct all of its traffic to the AMP pages, as it tested the pages to ensure they worked properly. After this test period in January 2017, Carved directed all of its mobile search traffic to the AMP pages.

The mobile AMP pages load on average in 3.1 seconds on a 3G connection, which is faster than the average of 11.7 seconds it takes for the non-AMP pages on 3G, Webber says.

Google factors speed into its smartphone search results rankings, and Carved’s improved mobile site speed boosted its rankings. For example, for the keywords, “Real wood iPhone 7 case,” Carved’s AMP page typically ranks No. 1, compared with the non-AMP average page ranking of 1.6. Similarly, Carved’s AMP “S7 Edge wood case” mobile page now ranks in the No. 1 spot compared with 2.2 for its non-AMP page.

The AMP pages also boosted Carved’s click-through rate, Webber says.

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Another feature of AMP pages that attracted Webber was the gray lightning bolt badge with the words “AMP” that signals to consumers that Google has validated that the page will load quickly. Carved’s AMP pages are clicked on four times as often as its normal links in mobile search results, and Webber believes the badge has a lot to do with it.

The most important outcome of faster speed, better Google search ranking and a higher click through rate is mobile sales growth. Smartphones account for 38% of sales so far in 2017, up from 31% of sales in 2016, Webber says. Carved’s mobile conversion rate has increased to an average of 1.6% this year compared with 1.02% in 2016, Webber says.

And this is just the beginning for Carved’s use of AMP. WompMobile has proposed adding a progressive web app component to its AMP pages. Google announced the PWA plus AMP technology in May, so it was a new endeavor for Carved and the vendor.

Webber, however, did not shy away. “This is going to continue expand over time, and I would much rather be early to the party,” he says.

A progressive web app is a Google technology for coding a fast, interactive, app-like mobile site. (Read more about PWA plus AMP technology here.) When a retailer connects its AMP pages to its PWA pages, shoppers can have a fast experience both from search and throughout the entire mobile experience. Developers can code the progressive web app to allow a shopper who is on an AMP page to tap a link and then be connected to another, pre-cached AMP page, maintaining extremely fast load speeds. Plus, all of the AMP pages live under a PWA umbrella, which means the consumer still gets the benefits of a progressive web app, such as full-screen mode, offline access, a consistent header and smooth navigation.

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Carved’s PWA technology launched at the beginning of July and as it did with AMP pages, the retailer is directing just a small portion of its traffic to the progressive web app so far. The results, however, are encouraging, as consumers on the Carved PWA have a conversion rate of 4.84%.

For the AMP plus PWA technology, WompMobile has a one-time development fee starting at $20,000 and then a monthly rate that begins at $2,500, says Madison Miner, co-founder and CEO at WompMobile.

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