My Take On... AMP and eCommerce

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

Are AMPs and eCommerce compatible? Not yet, says PushON’s Simon Wharton.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are the result – and the ongoing mission – of a group of online companies and thousands of developers working on the open-source project.

The aim is laudable: to give mobile users a fast, consistent browsing experience by stripping down the code and setting some design ground rules. AMPs appear instantly because there’s less data to download, there’s no rendering of layouts on the fly and only the visible part of the screen is loaded.

Like all good tech, you’re not aware you’re on an AMP unless you’re looking out for it. Whether it’s a news story you tapped on Twitter or a recipe you googled with your floury finger, it just appears and in an instant and you’re consuming the content. I love AMPs.

The AMP Project was originally conceived as a means of getting static pages, particularly news, quickly and resource-lightly. Indeed, news providers like The Guardian were part of the consortium that kick-started the project (put /amp at the end of any desktop guardian.com news URL and you’ll see its AMP equivalent).

But not so fast!

Here’s the thing, though. Not all web pages contain static information. In our own industry, eCommerce pages are virtually always displayed in response to a user’s input: dresses; just size 14s; just blue; everything under £80. AMP does have functionality for this kind of page, as shown here, but the way it renders isn’t exactly rich.

In retail, the brand, the customer journey and where relevant, the consistency and seamlessness between the online and the bricks and mortar space are what differentiates brands. Retailers have invested heavily in omni-channel marketing over the past 18 months to achieve this end. And omni isn’t just buzzy idealism; it’s putting the customer’s experience at the heart of the experience – and it works.

With AMPs, identity and branding are considered extraneous and are stripped out. There can be some identifying graphics, but minimal opportunity for cross-selling, storytelling or emotional responses. If these aren’t factors in marketing, then frankly, the whole marketing industry is a sham, and nobody is saying that *shuffles awkwardly*.

But not so slow, either.

Some online retailers, most notably eBay, are trying their best to make a success of AMPs, but I’m not impressed with the eCommerce results I’ve seen so far. That’s not to say it’s a dead duck – far from it. But for now, I’m advising our eCommerce clients to stick with mobile-first responsive websites to maintain branding and user experience.

To give your take on a particular issue or subject, contact david@prolificnorth.co.uk