December 23, 2013, 9:42 AM

Fresh content will be key to engaging mobile shoppers in 2014

Smartphone shoppers check retailers’ circulars several times daily via the Flipp app from mobile marketing company Wishabi, its CEO says. He predicts that retailers aiming to attract more of those shoppers will need to update content at least daily—perhaps even hourly—in 2014.

Lead Photo

The Flipp mobile app

The days of spreading out a cornucopia of ads from the Sunday paper and planning the week’s shopping may be gone, but the circular still has a place in consumers’ lives—perhaps an even more prominent one, a mobile expert contends. A new app that delivers a digital, shoppable version of retailers’ print circulars has been enticing consumers with news of sales and deals, and app users check those circulars three or four times a day on average, says Wehuns Tan, founder and CEO of mobile marketing company Wishabi, which created the app.

That’s likely because consumers using the app, called Flipp, are opening it while they’re out shopping, he says. It also indicates why retailers that update their circular deals daily or more often get the most repeat shoppers via the app, he says, without providing details.

“We’re very used to creating weekly content, but with mobile we’ll need fresh content on an hourly basis,” Tan says. “In the Facebook era, with consumers checking the newsfeed multiple times a day, if you don’t provide fresh content, you run the risk of getting stale.”

Flipp launched for the iPhone and iPad on Nov. 5, with an Android version scheduled to release in January. The app uses the content from a retailer’s print circular to create a digital version of the circular, which a consumer scrolls through horizontally in the app. She can save deals to a shopping list; search for deals by retailer, item or brand name; and save a retailer’s flyers as favorites. Any items she saves to a shopping list or as a favorite syncs between devices if she uses Flipp on both a smartphone and a tablet.

For now, the app directs a shopper to the retailer’s m-commerce or e-commerce site if she clicks to make a purchase, though in-app purchasing is on Wishabi’s list for its next version, Tan says.

In addition to digitizing the circular, formatting it for mobile and making it shoppable, Flipp also allows retailers to personalize the content that appears in their Flipp circulars according to rules they set and the kinds of data they enable their e-commerce and m-commerce systems to send to Flipp. That way, for example, a shopper who has been browsing teapots on a retailer’s site might see a special deal on a teapot in that retailer’s Flipp circular even if a teapot isn’t part of the current version of the mobile circular, Tan says.

While smartphone shoppers so far have been opening the app and browsing more times per day than tablet shoppers (three or four times versus once), tablet shoppers are viewing roughly 50% more pages of circular content per visit, Tan says. On average, consumers on tablets view 20-50 pages of content versus 17-20 on a smartphone, he says. Across both devices, the average length of a visit is 10-12 minutes.

A retailer can list its circular on Flipp for free. Wishabi both creates the digital version and connects it to the retailer’s web and mobile sites, Tan says. The retailer can pay for additional promotions on a cost-per-click basis, for instance, to make its digital circular appear higher in a Flipp shopper’s search results, Tan says. Wishabi also makes money by helping retailer clients to use the digital content it creates on their behalf for web and mobile advertisements. For instance, a retailer could put a banner ad on its mobile site highlighting one of the products from its weekly digital circular.

250 retailers in the United States and Canada have circulars on Flipp, and about one U.S. retailer is joining every two weeks, Tan says. For the most part, he says they are multichannel merchants that have print circulars, such as The Sports Authority Inc., No. 245 in the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and No. 251 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500.


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