Women’s clothing retailer Juicy Couture launched a mobile commerce site just before the holiday season to satisfy the growing number of ?consumers who make purchases on their smartphones. The company, which until November had been ?operating a self-made m-commerce site, worked with technology provider Usablenet to build a mobile-optimized, commerce-friendly destination that had a similar look and feel to its e-commerce page. ?
“The mobile experience we were providing was subpar,” says Devon Pike, SVP of Juicy Couture digital. “Customers who buy apparel find it important to see product details. Their purchases are more on-the-fly and ?impulse-centered so we had to make our m-commerce site more efficient and streamlined.” ?
Prior to the redesign, Juicy Couture’s in-house mobile site produced only 4% of its total Web traffic and just less than 1% of its online sales. Since the ?relaunch, the retailer’s m-commerce site has generated 15% of digital traffic and 6% of online sales. ?
Juicy Couture is studying customer behavior on its m-commerce site to determine how best to proceed with the production of a mobile ?app, says Pike. ?
Mobile-optimized websites are not the only mobile channel from which marketers sell. Multichannel retailers must also consider whether or not to launch a commerce-enabled app, or whether to do both or one at the ?exclusion of the other. ?
“Many retailers use mobile apps in addition to a mobile commerce site,” says Michael Becker, North America managing director of the Mobile ?Marketing Association. “Some may only do mobile Web because they can develop the site once and optimize it for every type of handheld set. Going the app route is more challenging because you have to maintain the app for each specific device and each forces different technical considerations.” ?
Steve Yankovich, VP of eBay ?mobile, argues companies can offer richer functionality on mobile apps than they can on mobile commerce sites. “Our e-commerce site doesn’t ?assume you have a built-in camera for your computer, but our iPhone app has camera integration,” Yankovich says. “The browser on a phone can’t get to the phone’s camera, but within an app, you can do it. This functionality allows users to do a ?super rapid listing.” ?
Yankovich says eBay’s mobile commerce site, which is “upgraded and re-launched constantly,” is better suited for ?consumers who don’t have app-ready devices. Despite this, he claims the “number of unique visits, overall visits and page views [on the mobile site] would stun people. People would think [these numbers] are for a regular website.” Though Yankovich wouldn’t reveal traffic specifics, he noted the mobile app has surpassed 30 ?million downloads. ?
For Wahoo Fitness, an exercise and health products company, the mobile commerce site takes precedence over its mobile app. Wahoo’s products are designed to enable smartphones to communicate with sports fitness ?devices. As a result, the company generates a good portion of its sales from partnerships with third-party software designers who can generate, store and reproduce exercise information. For example, when consumers download the RunKeeper iPhone app, they are prompted to purchase a Wahoo ?heart rate monitor. ?
“Because customers are usually introduced to our products via their ?iPhone, being able to quickly and easily make a sale on the mobile platform is critical,” says Chip Hawkins, president of Wahoo Fitness. “If we don’t have a mobile platform enabled, customers have to remember the product, go home, and buy it online. We want that impulse buy.” Wahoo’s mobile commerce and e-commerce platforms (both built by ShopVisible) are distinct in that Wahoo’s mobile site, launched in November, serves only to facilitate purchases. Unlike the company’s website and iPhone app, where consumers can research products, the mobile site is “about checking out as quickly as possible,” Hawkins says. ?
Tina Chilip, marketing communications manager at Usablenet, asserts that regardless of whether retailers build ?m-commerce sites, mobile apps or both, each must have full e-commerce functionality. She says companies that have “watered-down versions of the website with template looking storefront sites need to stop treating mobile commerce as an afterthought.”