January 4, 2011, 10:29 AM

A stylin’ mobile site helps consumers share information and decide on a new look

Beauty product retailer Aveda uses its m-commerce site as a multichannel branding tool.

Lead Photo

The beauty product retailer's m-commerce site is often used by consumers to find a salon.

Since it launched a mobile commerce site in November 2009, Aveda has experienced a 450% increase in traffic coming from mobile devices. About 9% of all online traffic to Aveda, a brand of The Estee Lauder Cos. Inc., is now mobile. And these consumers are using the mobile version of Aveda.com exactly as Aveda hoped they would: as a personal assistant in stores and salons and as a tool for sharing products and styles with friends.

Aveda says sales through the mobile commerce site are significant and on the rise, but declines to give exact numbers. And for the time being it’s not concerned with exact numbers. From the start, the beauty products retailer and manufacturer envisioned mobile as a multichannel vehicle for promoting greater customer engagement with the brand and enhancing social marketing. Customers are using the Aveda m-commerce site, built by mobile technology provider Usablenet Inc., at the retailer’s 118 stores, network of 5,500 salons and on the go when they are away from a PC.

“The No. 1 thing customers are doing when they come to our mobile site is learning about the brand and finding a salon,” says Russell Moorehead, vice president of Aveda online. “Our business is predominantly a salon business; plus, we’re not a department store brand. So there is a large percentage of people looking to find a location. We also see a lot of traffic on the mobile site reading and sharing reviews. Sharing was a priority for us with mobile and we’re seeing even more than expected, sharing reviews and product information, whether through Facebook, Twitter or e-mail links.”

Moorehead cites the mobile site’s Looks Gallery as a prime example of how mobile is building closer relationships with customers and fostering greater brand loyalty. A customer is waiting in an Aveda salon for an appointment with her hair stylist, pondering what her new look should be. She visits the mobile site on her smartphone and browses the gallery of myriad photographs, all ported over from the e-commerce site and optimized for the smaller screen. She finds a new look and while sitting in her stylist’s chair shows her the photo on her phone. The vast e-commerce experience is in the palm of her hand.

Additionally, she could be out and about, in a doctor’s waiting room or at a child’s soccer game, browsing new looks. She finds one she thinks she likes but needs some outside opinions. So she uses the Facebook and e-mail options integrated into the mobile site to share the look with friends to get a thumb’s up or thumb’s down.

“Sharing is in the DNA of our brand, and it is one of our main goals in mobile,” Moorehead says. “We’ve seen a lot of sharing on our PC site and we thought the mobile medium would lend itself more intuitively to that. Aveda is a brand people are really passionate about, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible to do what they are already doing but in this new and spontaneous way.”

Any retailer in mobile commerce today is heading down the right path, Moorehead adds.

“A year from now its effectiveness as a marketing tool will be unquestioned and it will be enabling things that we haven’t even thought of yet,” he says. “I have 100% faith in mobile—it’s the direction we’re moving and the direction commerce and digital in general are moving. Compared with the desktop, mobile is where the innovation is happening. And as a brand we want to be there.”

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