WebUndies.com’s very inexpensive approach to mobile is paying off, it says.
Bill Siwicki , Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce
WebUndies.com, a family-owned e-retailer of underwear, loungewear and robes, today is reporting 2012 mobile commercesales of $168,000, 5.4% of total sales of $3.1 million, which include sales through Amazon.com Inc. and Rakuten Shopping (formerly Buy.com). 2012 m-commerce sales are up 169.2% from 2011’s $62,400, or 3.0% of total sales of $2.1 million, the web retailer reports.
Traffic stemming from mobile devices nearly doubled year over year, accounting for 10.88% of total traffic in 2011 and 20.81% in 2012, WebUndies.com reports. Apple Inc. devices rule the roost: the iPad accounts for 40% of mobile traffic and the iPhone 33%. No other device comes close to those percentages, the web retailer says. Mobile traffic converts at a rate of 1.26%; web traffic converts at 2.17%, the e-retailer reports.
The e-retailer operates an m-commerce web site, built by its e-commerce platform vendor ShopSite, and offers a tablet-optimized catalog, built and hosted by catalog aggregator site and app Catalogs.com. ShopSite does not charge extra for the m-commerce site, but the e-retailer spent a couple of thousand dollars for an outside web designer to create page templates for the mobile site.. The ShopSite software cost a one-time fee of $1,300.
Web hosting services from vendor Lexiconn for the e-commerce site and m-commerce site cost between $300-400 a month. WebUndies.com declines to reveal the exact price for services from Catalogs.com but says costs are in the low hundreds of dollars a month to host the catalog and 40 cents per click that leads from the catalog to the shopping cart.
“We run the ShopSite software and mobile commerce is just another feature, like coupons or product reviews, that is part of that software,” says Terri Hunsinger, co-owner of WebUndies.com. “They don’t charge us a fee; they don’t take a cut of our mobile business. We were looking at a mobile commerce vendor and you pay them a certain percentage of every order that you’re getting. I hate to give up hard-earned money if we don’t have to.”
Hunsinger says going mobile with ShopSite was a simple affair.
“It was so easy it’s almost laughable,” she says. “I went into our cart and clicked the Enable Mobile box, then I uploaded the page templates, and that was it. The mobile site links directly with every other system in the platform. Mobile orders come in just like any other order we receive. And if I want to change the navigation buttons, for example, I just open up the cart, change the text and hit Save. It’s ridiculously easy.”
Tablet shoppers at WebUndies.com spend more time on the site than desktop or smartphone shoppers, Hunsinger says.
“It’s a friendly layout and we have a catalog that is optimized for the iPad through Catalogs.com so you can see our products in a catalog format,” she says. “We have 3,000 SKUs that are fun to look at. It’s great to just sit on the couch and look through the catalog.”
Hunsinger declines to reveal sales from the tablet catalog hosted on her site and on Catalogs.com, but says it accounts for a small portion of overall mobile sales. WebUndies.com updates Catalogs.com twice a day through its frequently changing product data feed.
“We don’t have a print catalog because our product assortment is changing so often,” Hunsinger says. “That is what helps our business model succeed with great growth year after year. As a result, it was difficult for Catalogs.com to work with us on optimizing the layout. I would like more flexibility, a dashboard where I can log in and say these are the products I would like to feature. They are not there yet. When we went with Catalogs.com we just wanted a way to optimize shopping for the iPad. Longer term, having a vendor with a great dashboard where we can feature certain products would probably be better for us. I keep going back to the Internet Retailer shows because that is how I find all my vendors.”
Hunsinger’s wish for a more flexible interface from Catalogs.com soon will be granted. “We’ve received feedback from many clients, and we’ll be launching a new interface in the next 45 days,” says Richard Linevsky, president of Catalogs.com. “It’s becoming a very robust package. It will include a dashboard and will give retailers better control over the customer experience and the ability to showcase products. The new interface will give retailers an easier overall flow while handling their catalogs.”
If there’s one thing Hunsinger likes in her e-commerce work, it’s vendors. She upgraded the e-commerce site to ShopSite in October 2010. Since then she has inked contracts with Catalogs.com, site search provider SLI Systems, and search engine marketing firm ROI Revolution.
“I like to outsource,” she says. “Vendors are so much better at these things than we are. I recognize where our strengths are and where they are not.”
One area where WebUndies.com’s mobile efforts are weak, Hunsinger says, is site search. She says the m-commerce site’s search function is too basic, and that the e-retailer soon will migrate its SLI Systems multi-faceted site search functionality from the e-commerce site to the m-commerce site.
“We wanted to get a full year of data on our regular site search before we moved it to mobile,” Hunsinger says. “The conversion rate for shoppers who used search on the e-commerce site went from 1.5% to 7%, and the number of people using search is significantly higher, going from 1% to 8%.”
When a consumer types “Superman” into the site search box, for example, he used to get simply a list of every product that has Superman in its keywords or product description. Now, on the left side of the search results page, the consumer can refine the search and navigate by gender, size, color, fabric content and more.
“We already had the data, we just were not using it for search,” Hunsinger says. “If you only want Superman boxers and not Superman toddler pajamas, you can find exactly what you’re looking for within site search. It’s a lot easier to buy when you are only seeing what meets your requirements. When we make the change to SLI for mobile search, our mobile conversion rate will increase.”
WebUndies.com has an m-commerce site for all smartphones and a catalog for tablets, but it has no mobile apps for iPhone, Android or other smartphones. That, Hunsinger says, will be remedied in the not-too-distant future.
“I don’t think it will be a shopping app,” she says. “We have talked about a brand-building app. We have fun products and a fun logo, and that’s something we would like to build on. More of a game than any sort of m-commerce app. Our kids have a million great ideas for a game app; it really is a family business. Not everyone can talk about underwear at Thanksgiving dinner.”