December 9, 2013, 4:36 PM

Express puts mobile on a holiday fast track

A new series of apps gives consumers new ways to pay and get offers.

Lead Photo

Specialty apparel retailer Express Inc. thinks the fourth quarter and holiday shopping season is an excellent time to grow mobile commerce, and has rolled out an updated app designed to do just that.

Express, No. 97 in the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 has launched a new series of iPhone, iPad and Android apps that enable shoppers with an existing Express Next private-label credit card to make purchases, review their payments history and information, and make a payment.

The apps, which are available for download on iTunes.com and Google Play, also lets shoppers receive in-store offers based on locations near them and other marketing-oriented text messages.

Express, which is projected to grow its mobile commerce sales by an Internet Retailer-estimated 110% to $31.5 million in 2015 and generates an Internet Retailer-estimated 15% of its m-commerce revenue through apps, is launching an update during the busy holiday shopping season to stay up to date with its core shopper base of younger clothes shoppers who are doing increasingly more shopping on their mobile device, says Express chief marking officer Liz Crystal. “The launch happening now is all about making sure we are up to speed with our customers who are very focused on their mobile device,” she says.

To help promote the new app Express launched a holiday marketing program that allowed app users to download a digital coupon book of discounts good for shopping online or in stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Express, No. 99 in Internet Retailer’s 2014 Mobile 500 also is sponsoring a sweepstakes called “Own the Moment” to win an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for New Year’s Eve, a $1,000 Express shopping excursion and an invitation to a special party in Times Square. “These promotions let us tell our customers how important we know mobile devices are to them,” Crystal says. “Their smartphones are never out of reach.”

Generating more m-commerce revenue is becoming a bigger driver of sales and traffic for e-commerce, which grew nicely in the third quarter, Express says.

For the third quarter ended Nov. 2, Express reported:

  • E-commerce grew 29.2% to $71.2 million from $55.1 million.
  • Total sales increased 7.3% to $502.9 million from $468.5 million.

For the first nine months:

  • E-commerce grew 34.4% to $201.8 million from $150.2 million.
  • Total sales increased 6.4% to $1.50 billion from $1.41 billion.

“Given the speed that mobile is growing, we're adding enhancements,” CEO Michael Weiss told Wall Street analysts on Express’ recent third quarter earnings call. “Express Next credit card holders can now link their card with an app that enables them to make payments using their mobile device.”

Weiss says e-commerce is growing faster than expected. “On a full-year basis, we expect e-commerce to represent approximately 15% of our total sales, a level reached far more quickly than we had originally anticipated,” Weiss told analysts. “We are continuing to enhance our e-commerce experience for our customer. For example, next year's rollout of the new web design will incorporate an updated look, easier navigation, a faster checkout process and other enhancements. We're also setting the stage for greater personalization.”

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