June 8, 2012, 9:18 AM

IRCE 2012: Mobile commerce evolves at Rue La La

On average, 30% of weekly sales originate on mobile devices.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Ashley Harmeling

Insightful marketing to mobile consumers has paid off for Rue La La. About 30% of the flash sale e-retailers weekly sales originate with consumers using mobile devices, said Ashley Harmeling, Rue La La director of marketing this week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago. In 2011, mobile sales averaged 10% of overall sales, she says.

This mobile commerce growth, which Harmeling said Rue La La forecasts will continue to accelerate, is fueled by marketing efforts that include sharing, referral and invitation capabilities built into the Rue La La mobile app.

“We needed to have invitations and referrals as key elements of what our customers see when they open the app,” Harmeling said, in addition to the ability to share products from within the app. Nearly 88% of Rue La La customers that use the app share products with their friends, she said.

Rue La La placed an Invite button within the app to make it easier for consumers to invite their friends to join the membership site.

Harmeling also took advantage of smartphones’ ability to send push notifications—messages that pop up on the device’s screen--to consumers. Daily boutique sales go live at 11 a.m., and a push notification can remind the consumer of that, she says. Adopting a push notification strategy that employ simple messages resulted in 25% more consumers visiting Rue La La when the sales start, she said.

But the first step to successfully marketing a mobile commerce app is to know what to measure, Harmeling said. Rue La La concentrated on session length, session frequency and user experience, she said.

To help increase a consumer’s time within the app, Rue La La added a Right Now button that when tapped displays fast-selling products with labels that indicate how much time has passed since the most recent purchase. Right Now only is available in the mobile app, not on the desktop e-commerce site, Harmeling said.

To encourage consumers to return to the site, Rue La La placed a Preview button in the app to display upcoming boutique sales. Consumers also can set a push notification to get a reminder of the sales when they debut.

Improving the mobile consumer’s user experience can be as simple as noting the number of customers who buy just one item, Harmeling said. If most consumers buy just one item, the quantity selection box could be placed deeper into the product selection process, she said. “Consumers want simple steps.”

Of course, these efforts have to drive conversions, Harmeling said. Mobile sales  have more than once surpassed half of a day’s sales this spring, she said. “When consumers are looking for something to buy, you have to be there.”



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