In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
It’s no wonder the e-retailer is launching an m-commerce site this month.
A lot of retailers get a lot of mobile traffic. For merchants today, the percentage of online traffic stemming from smartphones and tablets typically falls within the 5-15% range. At the rate consumers are adopting smartphones and tablets, 25% is the not-too-distant future.
However, 25% is today for e-retailer Bag Borrow or Steal Inc. That is an astounding number in mobile commerce today, and good reason to build an m-commerce site, which Bag is in the final stages of creating.
“For us, mobile commerce is critical because we have higher-than-average mobile traffic,” says Russ Blain CEO of the e-retailer, which rents high-fashion handbags, jewelry and accessories. “When your customer preference is to interact with you via mobile you need to support that. As smartphones are getting better and as bandwidth is getting better the trend of mobile commerce will simply increase.”
The e-retailer decided to build and maintain the site in-house rather than use one of the many m-commerce vendors, though it did contract with a design firm to create the initial look of the mobile site. Staff had most, though not all, of the skills necessary to jump into m-commerce, Blain says.
“There has been a bit of a learning curve,” he says. “But long-term cost of ownership is lower if you can do it in-house. And every time we change the e-commerce site going forward we have to think about mobile, so having that mindset in-house makes sense.”
Navigation will be simple on the m-commerce site, which will be launched before the end of March, Blain says. The merchant decided not to include in the m-commerce site the ability to manage accounts and manage waiting lists in order to streamline the site and not overwhelm customers. It wants to keep things simple, which is in line with its new business model: gone is paid membership, in are basic transactions. Mobile was considered during the creation of the new business model.
“We got rid of paid membership, now it’s all-in-one pricing. One price for the bag, including shipping and insurance,” Blain explains. “It’s a lot simpler transaction. We did it to make it easier on the customer, but we also did it because mobile was in the works.”
Bag Borrow or Steal says the only significant challenge to m-commerce was fitting it in with other projects, some of which took precedence. It designed the mobile site in October and November of 2011, but then had to put it on hold for e-commerce projects. It picked it up again in late February.
“I’m pleased with how fast they’re going with the project,” Blain says.
To gauge mobile success, Blain will be closely watching two metrics: time on site and conversion.
“We’re looking to get higher engagement and therefore higher conversion and customer satisfaction, so conversion and time on site are the two measures,” Blain says. “Time on site is an indicator of higher engagement and that it’s easier to move around the site.”
Bag Borrow or Steal was formerly known as Avelle.com, which is No. 439 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.