October 2, 2013, 9:40 AM

Keeping the tablet experience useful wins over customers

Retailers Little Black Bag and Aeropostale share tips on tablet strategies.

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Little Black Bag Inc. is out to make online shopping fun through social shopping and discovery of “great brands and value” among handbags, apparel, jewelry and accessories, president and chief marketing officer Jeff Biesman said yesterday in a conference session on tablet strategies at the Shop.org Annual Summit in Chicago.

Inspired by a shopping event in Japan where store shoppers trade purchased products with one another to get what they want, LittleBlackBag.com offers a similar experience online. After filling out a survey to indicate her personal preferences, a shopper adds an item to her online shopping cart. The retailer then adds two more items based on a customer’s interests without identifying the products. Brands include such names as Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole New York, Namrata Joshipura and Sicura Italian Designs.

Before the items get shipped, shoppers have a week to trade their three products to other consumers for items in their carts. It’s all about fun and discovery, Biesman said.

But to extend that experience to tablets and register new customers, the web-only retailer has been careful not to make content too complicated, he added.

When Little Black Bag ran a TV advertising campaign earlier this year to build its customer e-mail list, for example, it was careful not to overload the landing page listed in the ad with content that might slow page-loading and cause visitors to abort their attempt to access the site. It designed the page with limited JavaScript, which is commonly used to make web pages interactive and link them to content on web servers, and included no rollovers or animations, Biesman said.

The landing page did present a large e-mail capture field, however, and produced a strong sign-up conversion rate, Biesman said. “The tablet registration rate from TV was on par with desktops,” he said.

The expanded e-mail list has contributed to an overall doubling of the retailer’s tablet traffic since last year’s holiday shopping season, he added.

Sharing the conference session podium with Biesman was Jacob Hawkins, vice president of e-commerce for Aeropostale, No. 111 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide. Tablets account for 21% of online visitors and 17% of online sales at Aeropostale, a multichannel retail chain that sells casual apparel and home furnishings to teens and, through its P.S. from Aeropostale brand, to children aged 4 through 12.

Hawkins said new or enhanced tablet functions that Aeropostale has deployed include better search features, in-store product scanning and international checkout.

He cautioned, however, that retailers shouldn’t try to develop too many things at once, and noted that it’s more important to build a strong browser-based tablet site to address how most consumers use tablets, before diving into tablet apps. “You could have a killer app,” he said, “but if you fail on the browser side, you can fail overall.”

Adam Silverman, a principal analyst for e-commerce and mobile commerce at Forrester Research Inc., who moderated the conference session, noted that Forrester projects that 60% of North American online consumers will own tablet computers by 2017.



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