June 11, 2014, 9:24 AM

ModCloth follows its customers to mobile

Following a quick move in to mobile commerce, ModCloth added a number of mobile-friendly features, such as a tool that lets users love or leave a product with a simple finger swipe, that embrace mobile’s unique engagement opportunities.

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In spring 2012, ModCloth Inc. began to notice more traffic coming to its web site from consumers using mobile devices, Udi Nir, the web-only apparel retailer’s chief technology officer told attendees at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago during a workshop session entitled "E-commerce Technology."

At that time, Nir said, ModCloth only had a desktop site. But the dramatic changes to its traffic patterns led the retailer to quickly develop and launch a mobile-optimized site later that season. By October 2013, ModCloth had iPhone and Android apps, as well as a tablet-optimized site.

The share of its consumers using mobile devices that engage with, and purchase, items on its e-commerce sites has steadily increased. In the last quarter of 2013, 60% of engagement with the brand­­­­­­—social shares of products, customers reviews of products and what the brand calls “loves,” similar to Facebook Likes—comes from consumers using mobile devices.

But sales haven’t followed as quickly, Nir said. Only 30% of sales come from consumers using mobile devices. But consumers use devices for different purposes, he said. Consumers use mobile devices to research and browse, and tablets and personal computers to purchase. “Our goal is not to have her buy something every time she comes to the site, although we would love that, the goal is increase engagement,” he said.

For that reason, ModCloth curates the products it displays on the home page depending on the device used to access the site. For example, he said, a consumer using a smartphone might see lower-priced merchandise on the home page while a consumer using a tablet might see higher-priced dresses.

Leveraging mobile means more than just optimizing a brand’s web site for smaller screens, Nir said. Mobile offers opportunities that a traditional web does not.

For example, Nir says ModCloth alerts a shopper when a product she was interested in that was out-of-stock has been restocked. Those push notification result in a high conversion rate.

ModCloth also developed a feature on its iOs app that allows users to swipe through products: a right swipe means “love it” and a left swipe means “leave it.” Consumers can love products on the brand’s web site, mobile sites and apps, but this feature isolates that interaction, making it easier for consumers to use. . Since the feature launched in April 2014, consumers have “loved” 830,000 products. That represents 22% of all “loves” the brand has accumulated through its apps, mobiles sites and desktop site. “The amount of immersion and interaction you can get with a native application is a lot higher than mobile web,” Nir said.

Another way ModCloth personalizes the experience for each consumer is by offering reviews with measurements; the idea being consumers will trust reviews more from people that are about the same size as she is. 78.0% of all ModCloth products have reviews and 58.5% of reviews have measurements. This feature is integrated into the desktop site, the mobile sites and the mobile apps.

ModCloth is No. 178 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide with an Internet Retailer-estimated 2013 web sales of $148 million.

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