August 18, 2011, 1:47 PM

A mobile shopping list is a thing of beauty

BeautyBar.com’s mobile app makes it easy to replenish cosmetics.

Lead Photo

Shoppers easily can reorder frequent purchases by tapping the My Lists button.

Cosmetics e-retailer BeautyBar.com knows many of its shoppers routinely replenish the same products. So it was essential the first mobile commerce app from the merchant, operated by Quidsi Inc., include the e-commerce site’s My Lists function, says Josh Himwich, vice president of e-commerce solutions at Quidsi, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com. My Lists presents a customer’s past orders and allows her to easily reorder those items, Himwich explains.

The m-commerce app, available now for the iPhone and by the end of the year for Android smartphones, features a Shop Now button at the top of the screen with additional buttons for shopping by category and brand; the My Lists button is immediately below. My Lists also is featured in Quidsi’s mobile apps released in April for its other e-commerce sites, Soap.com and Diapers.com. The feature works after a shopper logs in to her account in the apps.

My Lists is an important feature for BeautyBar’s shoppers, Himwich says. “There are two kinds of customers relevant for mobile commerce,” he says. “There’s the core customer who’s starved for any time she can get.” She may be managing a household, kids and a part-time job or volunteer duties. With beauty products, there’s another customer base of professional women who are time-starved, but for other reasons, such as their days are full of meetings and they often travel for work, he says. Both want a simple m-commerce app.

As for the decision to go with an app versus a mobile commerce site, Himwich says BeautyBar assessed what its consumers want out of a mobile shopping service. “Mobile sites have value, but people want more out of them, especially when they want to buy more than one item,” he says. Every time a mobile site user goes to a new product, the site must make a server call to get the information to build a new page. Server calls are reduced with apps because apps store a lot of the data needed to create new pages. A typical BeautyBar customer buys four items at once, he says, and My Lists in the app setting makes it easier for shoppers to find and select multiple products.

BeautyBar.com used the up-and-coming web programming language HTML5 to code portions of the app because it, unlike the previous version of HTML, enables a developer to cache, or store, data on the smartphone. This enables consumers to continue shopping even when they are out of wireless or Wi-Fi coverage, such as when riding on the subway. Upon restoration of the connection customers can complete a purchase, Himwich says.

BeautyBar released the iPhone app first because the Apple device is so popular. More mobile traffic comes from iPhone users than Android users, despite Android holding close to 50% of the smartphone market, Himwich says. As much as three-fourths of the mobile traffic to BeautyBar.com comes from iPhones, he says. “Android still has a little road to climb, but it’s still extremely important to us,” he says. Overall, as the new mobile app takes hold, he expects traffic from mobile devices to hit 5% of total Internet traffic; total mobile traffic at Soap.com and Diapers.com today is at 5%.

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