As the recently appointed chief marketing officer for private shopping site Rue La La, Robert Hall is in charge of keeping the ball rolling at an online store that has built annual sales in the $200 million range in two years of existence.

This story first appeared in the June 30, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“The consumers, who we like to call ‘members’, are really highly engaged and excited by what’s going on,” Hall said of the rapidly growing private shopping market. “At its basic level, we think we’re in the business of theater.”

Hall said the model has challenged some Web-retailing conventions. The company offers an edited assortment of goods instead of the broad selection of traditional e-tailers, and daily sales are predicated on a sense of urgency among the site’s 1.8 million members as opposed to convenience. Because Rue La La treats online shopping like an event, Hall said the site kept one question front of mind when developing a mobile platform: “How do I get this experience when I’m not at my desk or sitting at home in front of the laptop?” The site’s mobile apps allow users to shop the daily offerings from their smart phone as well as bask in the air of exclusivity. Members can post about their latest Rue La La finds to Facebook and Twitter and can use Bump technology to invite friends to the club.

Hall said in the month since Rue La La’s apps were live, the company saw its mobile sales figures approach 10 percent of overall sales.

“That to me is extraordinary growth in a quick time frame,” he said. “We’ve seen a material shift in consumer behavior to participate with the Rue La La brand with their iPhones and iPads very, very quickly.”

According to Hall, Rue La La isn’t the only company reaping the rewards of a mobile strategy. He said the brands the site partners with are also profiting.

“If you think of the perceptual changes that are happening for people when they buy something on an iPad or iPhone, it’s just a very different experience and dynamic,” he said. “I believe that the brands that are associated with that environment will benefit from that, because they appear more modern and relevant to the consumer’s shifting needs.”

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