8/07/14

eBags picks up valuable tips from a mobile dating app

Taking a cue from the Tinder app, eBags developers have debuted a fun tool for women on mobile devices to sort through handbags as quickly as they’d sort through men, leading to a whopping 10% mobile conversion rate, according to an Internet Retailer exclusive.

Bill Siwicki , Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Who’s hot, who’s not. It’s a snap judgement based on very personal tastes that just about anybody can make within a second of looking at another person’s picture. Brad Pitt? Yes. Morley Safer? No.

E-retailer eBags Inc. has just unveiled a new tool that applies that principle to mobile site design and already is seeing an enormous boost in mobile conversion, eBags co-founder and senior vice president Peter Cobb reveals exclusively to Internet Retailer.

The e-retailer, No. 163 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, challenged its developers to come up with new ways to merchandise and sell products via mobile devices. This type of challenge is known as a hackathon in tech circles. The winning team, two developers and a merchandiser, dreamed up eBags Obsession.

The team loved the way the dating app Tinder works. Tinder displays pictures of potential dates, asking users to click a heart icon for hot or an X icon for not. The team’s new tool, eBags Obsession, displays pictures of handbags with an X icon on the left and a heart icon on the right. Rather than scrolling through a long list of handbags, women can say hot or not to the handbags. The ones they like are added to a tray, where later they can examine them more closely. But most important, the tool learns along the way what women like and eventually begins showing women only handbags it determines the women most likely want to see, speeding up the process. Women also can add filters to begin with, such as color or style.

“These mobile-only or mobile-first companies like Tinder and Uber and OpenTable really have the lead in mobile, and they really inspire,” Cobb says. “So we took a page from Tinder, and the more information you give us, the better our algorithm—which takes into account 100 factors—can fine-tune our assortment of 12,000 handbags just for you. It’s a bit of gamification to help find the perfect bag.”

The merchant launched the tool on its responsive design site Monday August 4. When a consumer on a smartphone or tablet touches the Handbags tab, the first thing they see on the handbags page is eBags Obsession.

Two days ago, on August 5, 100 consumers used the new tool, eBags says. The average Obsession user swiped a heart or an X on the tool 76 times; on average, 14 swipes were hearts (hot) and 62 were X (not), eBags says. Most significant, 10% of mobile consumers who used the new tool purchased a handbag that the tool helped them find, Cobb says. Internet Retailer estimates eBags’ mobile conversion rate to be 1.43%, according to the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, which will be published August 19.

“That’s 10% mobile conversion after only two days—that’s incredible,” Cobb enthuses. “And that is the ultimate goal, to sell more handbags. But, importantly, this is a  cool tool.”

The eBags site offers other tools designed to sell more products. For example, it highlights 360-degree spin, which allows a consumer to spin a product image to see the product from just about every angle. “Consumers who use 360 have a slightly higher conversion rate than average, but it’s nothing like we’re talking about here with Obsession,” Cobb says.

Retailers must continually optimize their web sites, Cobb says.

“Like with a store, you have to bring people window shopping deeper into your store, then you need to get them to try on some clothes. I look at the Obsession tool as a great way of getting people into a fitting room, trying on different things,” Cobb says. “When you get an average of 76 interactions from an online shopper, that is a very engaged customer.”

Follow Bill Siwicki, editor of the Internet Retailer Mobile 500 and managing editor, mobile commerce, at Internet Retailer, at @IRmcommerce.

Topics:

eBags, Ebags.com, gamification, Internet Retailer Mobile 500, m-commerce, Merchandising, mobile commerce, mobile design, Peter Cobb, responsive design

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