Mobile-First Approach Drives Gilt.com's Digital Success
Approximately six months ago, online flash-sales retailer Gilt.com made the decision that it would be a "mobile first" company, recalled Jason John, Gilt's vice president of online, mobile and social marketing, in a session he presented at the Mcommerce Summit in New York City yesterday. In reality, the retailer's customers were forcing its hand. With more than 40 percent of its revenues now being transacted via mobile device — smartphone and tablet — and that number growing steadily year-over-year, Gilt really had no choice.
In addition, Gilt's mobile customers have proven to purchase more frequently than the brand's desktop-only customers. The vast majority of Gilt's mobile sales are occurring on its apps, John said. The retailer consistently promotes downloading its apps every chance it gets — on its website, in emails, social posts, etc. We're an app-focused business, John said.
Lessons in Mobile
John wrapped up his presentation by offering attendees some lessons Gilt has learned from its mobile program. Convenience alone isn't enough any more, he said in regards to what constitutes a successful mobile strategy. You can't just put the products and content from your desktop site onto a mobile site and consider it done. Consumers expect your mobile site and/or app to be fast, fun (gamification is now expected) and provide value that will give them a reason to come back.
Being a mobile-first company means that Gilt tests and rolls out new features and functionalities — e.g., Gilt Color, Try it On — on its mobile platforms first, then adopts what works on its desktop site. Here are some of the takeaways John left with the audience about building a successful mobile presence:
1. Design for each device. For example, take advantage of the large retina displays the iPad offers as well as the browsing nature of its users, while make site search a more prominent feature on smartphones, which offer less screen real estate to display products.
2. Optimize for weekends and downtime. Mobile usage peaks on weekends and holidays, John said, so offer mobile-exclusive content and sales during this time. For example, iPad usage tends to peak in the evening when consumers are relaxing at home, so consider running a flash-sale on your iPad app during this time frame.
3. Make it fast. Consumers typically don't want to spend a lot of time on your mobile site or app, so make the buying process as seamless and efficient as possible. For example, save credit card information for repeat buyers to speed up checkout. Our goal is to make the entire mobile shopping experience less than two minutes, John said. If users have to spend more than two minutes — unless they want to — we're not doing our job, he added.
4. Create an integrated mobile experience. This includes messaging as well as the purchase experience, John said. To help in this area, Gilt is training all of its 100-plus IT engineers on mobile design/coding as well as its traditional e-commerce site architecture. The goal is to no longer have a mobile department, John added. All IT engineers will be skilled on both desktop and mobile.
5. Know your funnel. Understand the motivations of your mobile visitors, John advised. Are they coming to your mobile app to shop? Research a product before going to purchase it in-store? Using it as a store locator? Once you know the motivations of your mobile visitors, you can better serve them.