Merchandising to on the go shoppers is a delicate balance of art and science — and brands have spent the decade since the iPhone’s introduction trying to get it just right.
And for good reason.
There’s big money to be made from consumers who choose to shop from their couch, the bus or where ever they happen to be. EMarketer’s projecting U.S. mobile sales will grow 52 percent to $102 billion this year.
“The first thing we tell our clients is that they need to design for mobile first since more than half of their traffic will come from smartphones,” said Michael Wang, chief executive officer of e-commerce solutions provider OneStop Internet. “Simplified layout and navigation with calls to action above the fold. It’s becoming more critical to enable one-click checkout whenever possible. This will be the fastest way to narrow the gap between mobile and desktop conversion rates.”
OneStop takes care of aspects such as web site design, forecasting, planning, allocation, fulfillment and call center services for brands.
Every detail and interaction counts in mobile commerce.
“We quickly learned that presentation matters and you literally have to showcase product in its best light,” said Mike Karanikolas, cofounder and co-ceo of multibrand e-tailer Revolve. “The images have to be infused with the aesthetic and attributes that your brand stands for. In fashion, you’re selling more than clothes. You’re selling a lifestyle and a feeling, and the images need to communicate this.”
Revolve, which is on track to hit $1 billion in sales by next year, opened its Social Club on Melrose Avenue in April as a space dedicated to VIP shoppers, events and the occasional pop-up shop.
“In a physical store, proper visual merchandising is much more important than on the web, both from an aesthetics standpoint as well as for selling entire looks,” Karanikolas said. “On the web, visual merchandising is still important, but the consumers’ entire visual field is not engulfed by the merchandise and the aesthetics of its spatial relationships in the same way as a physical store. Also, even a larger store is very limited in the total amount of merchandise that can be offered for sale, so it’s very important for us to stock it with only our absolute best and top-selling merchandise.”
TechStyle, another fast-growing e-commerce player, with about $700 million in annual revenue, has created its own formula for success. The company — whose employees use iPhones in Fabletics stores and its distribution centers — is the parent to online brands JustFab, ShoeDazzle and Fabletics.
“The industry is still changing,” said Traci Inglis, TechStyle’s chief marketing officer, at an e-tailer conference earlier this year. “There’s no way you can capitalize on these growth factors, unless you have a strong technology background for your company.”
JustFab members, for example, are greeted with landing pages customized to their tastes, while the company on the back end observes what a shopper’s clicking on, word searches and what a person’s buying and not buying. Product is then refined and e-mails with the hero product personalized to the recipients’ tastes are sent out.
Where mobile 1.0 may have focused on layouts and what color backdrop helps move product best, 2.0 is all about personalization.
There’s less time and real estate to nab shoppers’ attention on mobile, said Rian Buckley, the cofounder and chief executive officer of Fitcode, which focuses on selling jeans based on fit rather than size.
Fitcode users take a quiz and are directed to the appropriate style jeans for their fit. The company’s looking to expand by having its technology on the sites of denim brands such as JAG Jeans and AG.
“Yes, clean, minimal design is critical to the mobile shopping experience, but we focus on personalization to quickly connect the right consumers with the right product,” Buckley said.
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