May 8, 2012, 5:05 PM

Mobile exceeds 50% of sales on a single day at e-retailer Rue La La

On April 14, 53% of all sales were from mobile devices. And it’s no fluke.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

Steve Davis, president, Rue La La

Rue La La may be the harbinger of things to come in Internet retailing. On April 14, 53% of the e-retailer’s total sales came from its m-commerce site and iPhone, Android and iPad apps.

And this is not a fluke, Steve Davis, president of Rue La La, tells Internet Retailer. Mobile typically accounts for 30% of sales on weekdays and 40% of sales on weekends, and come the holidays mobile should account for 70% of sales on many days, he predicts.

“For the last 10 years I’ve thought mobile was two or three years away, but the day never arrived. Today, not only has mobile arrived as its own commerce channel, it is growing with a vengeance—I’ve never seen anything accelerate so quickly,” Davis says. “For us the desktop is almost dead—mobile is everything. In two years we went from 1% of sales to 50% on a day, and it just keeps growing.”

What’s more, at Rue La La, No. 160 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, mobile consumers are better customers than desktop consumers. A customer who shops Rue La La on three screens—desktop, smartphone and tablet—is 540% more likely to make a purchase than a customer who only shops on the desktop, Davis reports.

Rue La La offers limited-quantity flash sales of apparel and accessories every day at 11 a.m. So no matter where they may be, fashion-hungry shoppers need to be prepared. And, clearly, many are not near a desktop computer. Davis says this is why mobile sales trend higher on weekends, because so many people are out and about.

Luxury products are big sellers via mobile, as are fashion accessories such as handbags and jewelry, Davis says. Products that don’t require a size generally sell very well through mobile commerce, he adds.

What’s driving m-commerce to grow so quickly? The pace of innovation in mobile technology, Davis says. “The incredible innovation coming out of Apple, for example,” he says. “The ease of use of these devices and the simplicity of the user interface make for an incredible shopping experience. We keep hearing from our members that our mobile experience is one they find even more simple to use than the desktop. Mobile is not only convenient, it’s easier. Simplicity works and it is clearly driving adoption.”

One of the keys to Rue La La’s mobile success, Davis says, is in the way it sets up shoppers for checkout. Rue La La is a members-only e-retailer; members invite their friends and family. And a member must sign in to start shopping, which means that before a member even begins shopping she is automatically logged into her account. When it’s time to check out, she is presented with her saved shipping and payment information, thus avoiding the need to type in anything, which is a sore spot in m-commerce.

“When you move the authentication process up front,” Davis says, “you create a different mindset for consumers, and you get a higher satisfaction level.”

What’s to come in mobile commerce? Davis predicts mobile sales will grow dramatically for all brands and retailers during the next three years.

“Consequently, retailers need to adapt their mobile experience in ways that can be effective for both the screens they are designing for and the situations in which consumers are using mobile,” he says. “Big assortments don’t work; smaller works better. Spontaneous deals are effective. During the last 10 years retailers have had to rethink the paradigm of what a store means online. Now we’re in the next evolution of commerce, and mobile requires a paradigm shift in the shopping experience.”

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