Fashion customers are fickle, yet there are wants and needs related to the shopping experience that remain constant.

“Our customer at the end of the day is very interested in the best of luxury and fashion merchandising and wants easy ways to interact with that. Easy access,” said Lindy Rawlinson, senior vice president, customer experience, Neiman Marcus Group, in a conversation on mobile e-commerce and the modern retail customer.

She was joined by Jacques Panis, president of Shinola, and Andrea Zaretsky, vice president, customer marketing and engagement at American Express, who moderated the panel.

Rawlinson cited ways Neiman’s makes shopping easier and interesting, and noted the majority of Neiman’s web traffic is on the phone. A “consistent experience” from desktop to smartphone is vital. “Mobile is just the center of what we focus on.”

Mobile has “given us new ways to connect with customers” and can be an easy and quick way for associates to connect with customers, she said.

Rawlinson went through a litany of technology and services her company provides to customers to personalize and expedite shopping, citing gift finders; Snap, Find, Shop; memory mirrors; free shipping; free returns; express mobile checkouts with AmEx; beacon technology, and in-store charge-it spots.

“If you think about mobile, ComScore just reported mobile now comprises 20 percent of all e-commerce spend, up 60 percent year over year,” said Zaretsky. “If you think about screen time, the majority of time adults spend on screens is on mobile, it just crossed the 50 percent mark. Customers who shop on mobile spend more, and regardless of whether they’re shopping via desktop or by mobile, there are the same desires for free shipping, easy navigation and checkout and the same concerns about security.

“We are a narrative-driven brand,” said Shinola’s Panis. “People always confuse us with a made-in-America play. We are not. We are a job-creation vehicle. We have created about 350 jobs in Detroit — jobs that left our shores over 60 years ago in the watch industry. We are also making leather goods in Detroit, that haven’t been made in this country in many years.”

At Shinola, “The dynamic of mobile traffic today accounts for just over 50 percent of total traffic, 16 percent of transactions actually happen on a mobile device, 14 percent on tablets, 60 percent of conversions happen on the desktop,” Panis said.

“As we were designing Shinola 3.0 [the new web site] we had everyone in the organization thinking mobile first. That is critical as we move through into that next phase in the cycle of digital experiences. Making sure your teams are not operating in silos whatsoever. Thinking mobile first, whether it’s the creative bringing you the design, or the guys punching code in the background.”

Shinola has 17 U.S. stores and one each in Toronto and London. “When you walk into a Shinola store, I hope all of the senses are activated. How do we do that in the digital space? That was one of the big challenges I gave to the design team when they were designing Shinola 3.0. How do you get the consumer to smell, taste and to hear. We are trying through photography. Unfortunately your phone won’t spritz you with the smell of Shinola, or throw our coffee at you. You are not going to be able to feel the leather. If we can collectively as digital thinkers figure out ways to [bring] that in-store experience, that the consumer still loves, to the digital space, what does that do to our conversion? We focus on that conversion.”

He said the strategy to grow Shinola from $100 million in revenues to more than $300 million will be done by utilizing data, weaving content into the purchasing process, regarding the mobile device as a discovery tool and tapping the brand’s “elasticity” to launch products. “You will start to see Shinola audio products come to life in Detroit…. It’s about that job creation mechanism. There is not really science to the madness. It’s a lot of how we feel. There is a lot of extension of the brand. What it shows is the elasticity of this thing.”

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