Clothing manufacturer and retailer American Apparel is going overseas for its first mobile play. The retailer has launched its first mobile commerce site—and it’s for Japanese consumers.
The store is the company’s first venture into mobile commerce. American Apparel says it chose to start with Japan because many Japanese consumers—especially teenagers, American Apparel’s target market—are comfortable shopping from their phones.
"Mobile marketing is more important in Japan than in any other region,” says Dov Charney, founder and CEO of American Apparel. “The majority of teenagers in Japan actually use their mobile phones for apparel shopping. It was clear that this would be a great new way to serve our Japanese customers in a way that they've come to expect from other retailers."
Japanese consumers who type American Apparel’s web site URL into their smartphones will automatically be directed to the mobile-optimized site, the retailer says. The site was built by mobile technology vendor Unbound Commerce.
The m-commerce site, like the Japanese e-commerce site, accepts cash on delivery (COD) payments, an American Apparel spokesman says. “It's a hugely cash-based country when it comes to purchasing, so it's safe and practical for us to offer COD, as this is the norm for online shopping in Japan.” The spokesman says around 40% of web orders in Japan are paid for via COD.
The spokesman adds that the retailer chose a mobile site instead of an app because it is accessible from more phones. “Not everyone wants to download an app and this is easier and faster for our customers,” he says.
Despite not offering a mobile shopping channel in any region until now, American Apparel says many consumers across the globe are shopping its e-commerce sites via mobile devices and tablets.
“Average order value on phones and tablets in some regions is higher than desktop, so we're excited and optimistic about that,” the spokesman says. “Mobile sales for us are strong in all regions and that's what's behind this expansion.”
He says in the U.S., tablet and mobile traffic tends to rise after work when consumers are relaxing on the couch and in bed. American Apparel has plans to launch a mobile site for U.S. consumers soon, he adds.
As for the Japanese mobile site, American Apparel says the site is tailored specifically to Japanese consumers, with Japan-specific merchandising, product management and payment methods.
“We launched our mobile store in Japan based on the demand,” the spokesman says. “Japan is hugely mobile driven as a market in general, not just within the retail and fashion industries; mobile phone technology in Japan is immensely practical in the sense that people can go shopping, watch TV, and video chat with their friends on a phone on the way home from school or work. It made a lot of sense for us to bring our products and services to where the customers are.”
In addition to the Japanese m-commerce and e-commerce sites, American Apparel operates five stores in Japan—four in Tokyo and one in Osaka. Its most recent store opened in September 2009 in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.