Case Study: Mobile-Optimized Websites Drive Sales for Bluestem Brands
SOLUTION: Partnered with a mobile web platform provider.
RESULTS: Since launching mobile-optimized websites for Fingerhut in May and Gettington in July of last year, Bluestem Brands has seen its mobile traffic increase from 10 percent of overall traffic to nearly 20 percent of overall traffic. Both retailers' sites also saw over 20 percent improvements in conversion rate, pages per visit, average length of visit and revenue per visit.
It wasn't that Bluestem Brands didn't have a mobile presence for its two primary retail brands — Fingerhut and Gettington — in the early part of 2012, it's just that it wasn't optimized for viewing/shopping on the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. Consumers using these mobile devices were presented with the same site they got if they were on a PC looking at Fingerhut.com or Gettington.com. Even with this poor user experience, the brands were seeing between 10 percent and 15 percent of their overall traffic coming from mobile devices. Clearly there was an opportunity at hand.
"Our customer base was moving towards mobile," says Lee Zukor, director of e-commerce at Bluestem Brands. "We had a high percentage of customers who were transacting with us even given the imperfect nature of having to deal with our entire website on a very small screen. We knew that customer base — people who wanted to transact with us via mobile devices — was continuing to grow. There was a big opportunity there. Our customers and the industry told us that."
Bluestem Brands went through an extensive RFP process in an effort to find a mobile technology company that could satisfy its needs. Cloud-based platform provider Moovweb emerged as the clear choice, in large part because of its ability to quickly get its clients’ mobile sites up and running.
When creating its mobile sites, Bluestem Brands didn't have to change any of the content or back-end functionality (e.g., search and checkout) that was present on Fingerhut's or Gettington's desktop sites. The mobile sites were created in weeks using Moovweb's platform, which virtualizes front-end development without touching any back-end code. This "perfect proxy" approach transformed Bluestem's desktop sites in real time, enabling 100 percent of the desktop web assets to be used on the mobile sites without the extra cost and time needed to rewrite the sites for mobile devices.
Robust Functionality a Requirement
Bluestem Brands is a hybrid retail and financial services company — it offers proprietary credit to consumers, and a large percentage of its customers are using that credit on its websites. As a result, the company was looking for a mobile platform that offered not only robust functionality in terms of the shopping experience, but also the security around account management and the credit aspects of it.
"A lot of people in the retail industry talk about stripping back your mobile experience to the bare minimum kinds of things — get people through checkout as quickly as possible, make your navigation very simple — all the basic, tertiary aspects of your website," says Brandon Anderson, manager of platform and projects at Bluestem Brands. "To some degree that takes down the customer experience. We kind of took the opposite approach, which is to say let's have our m-commerce sites inherit as many features that make sense for our customers and will help them make the right buying and credit decisions."
As for what's on the horizon, Bluestem Brands is discussing the possibility of mobile apps as well as optimizing its websites for tablet shoppers, a growing segment of its customer base.