How Free People Drives Engagement With Shoppable Mobile App
Free People, a specialty retail brand that's part of the Urban Inc. family, has seen a tremendous amount of success from its mobile shopping app for iOS over the last year. With a relaunch in September 2013 focusing on social community and user-generated content, Free People's mobile app has become a critical part of the company's omnichannel strategy.
"We wanted to create a social experience that was engaging for the customer in-store and online" said Jed Paulson, director of marketing and e-commerce for Free People, at this week's Philly Tech Week conference.
Paulson and his team at Free People started working on a social engagement strategy in the fall of 2012. They decided to build their own app customizable to Free People's audience, complete with a social layer for users that enables them to connect with other Free People fans. Some of the unique features on the relaunched app include quick social sharing options, high-resolution photos, and the FP Me Style Community.
The FP Me feature enables fans to create an account accessible on their mobile device (or desktop) and connect with others while browsing Free People's inventory, lookbooks and catalogs. In addition, the app creates a strong community by allowing users to snap and upload their own style pics, "follow" and "like" other users’ content, and provides information on where to buy the item. Lastly, Free People's strong focus on user-generated content and imagery has helped improve the performance of its app (aka pocket boutique) as well — not to mention improved engagement on its Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram social accounts.
Free People's mobile app has also been key to driving foot traffic to the brand's brick-and-mortar locations. Users are able to scan the hangtags on apparel and jewelry offered in-store, read customer reviews for that item, learn how to style the item, and find a location nearest to them to purchase if the item is out of stock.
"The app and social interactions gives us a great gauge on what's popular with our audience," said Paulson.
In the first week of the app's release in February 2013, it was downloaded more than 24,000 times and surged to 10 percent of sales. Since its original launch, 10 percent of the mobile app traffic comes from iPads, further generating more revenue from mobile.
Paulson also revealed that Free People sees a very high opt-in rate as well as high engagement from using push notifications on its mobile platform.
In addition to its social and mobile efforts, Free People sells it merchandise in more than 85 company-owned brick-and-mortar stores, 1,500 specialty boutiques and department stores, a direct-to-consumer catalog, and e-commerce website. While 90 percent of the brand's sales are still from its brick-and-mortar locations, Free People's holistic marketing strategy and strong execution of an omnichannel experience has helped make it the fastest-growing brand under the Urban Outfitters tree.