In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
Merchants can learn some mobile lessons from the boutique, flash-sale merchant.
Purchases made through Rue La La’s mobile commerce site and mobile apps accounted for 12% of the flash-sale merchant’s first quarter 2011 sales, up sharply from 2% of sales in the 2010 first quarter, the company says. Rue La La would not release dollar sales totals.
Providing mobile access can be a key tactic for invite-only, flash-sale retailers. These boutique stores feature a designer or brand sale at specific times. Rue La La shoppers often set alarms to ensure they are aware of when they can begin shopping. But the shoppers are not always at their desks when a sale begins. “They needed a way to access Rue La La when not at their desks,” a spokeswoman says.
One indication of that behavior is that Rue La La sees more mobile sales on weekends than it does on weekdays, the spokeswoman adds, showing that customers are shopping away from their desks.
About a year ago, Rue La La launched mobile shopping apps for the iPhone, devices that run Android, BlackBerrys and the iPad to complement its web site. Since then, Rue La La has learned some valuable lessons about how to make mobile shopping appealing to consumers.
One of the most important lessons is that shoppers should not have to re-input their log-in credentials once the app is set up, the spokeswoman says. “It helps members get right in at 11 a.m., with no delay,” she says, referring to the time of day when the e-retailer’s flash sales begin.
Another practice working for Rue La La is enabling “all-day shipping.” Rue La La members can shop all day, rummage through the day’s sales, and consolidate their orders into one delivery.
And another element is a buy-it-now system that completes a checkout in two steps.
Rue La La also enables shoppers to invite others via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.