As consumers are increasingly using smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices as a primary gateway to the Internet, it is important for businesses to think “multichannel” in order to provide an optimal customer experience and increase sales.
In addition to smartphone sales surpassing PC sales last year, 78% of mobile web users utilize their handsets while shopping. If 2010 was the year of mobile commerce, consider 2011 the year social shopping truly takes off. So, what’s next for digital retailers?
Usablenet is a B2B, global technology company that allows brands to create a seamless and efficient multichannel experience for modern day, social media savvy customers. Usablenet works with 25% of the Fortune 1000, allowing leading companies in all sectors to deploy fully-functional, optimized versions of their website across multiple channels, including mobile phones, mobile applications, tablets, Facebook and other social media, and in-store kiosks, with minimal impact to the client’s IT resources. I covered Usablenet late last year surrounding its launch of the JCPenney Facebook store, as well as ASOS’ Facebook store launch in January. Now that spring is in the air, I thought it was high time to catch up with Jason Taylor, Usablenet’s VP of Platform Strategy to discuss the new ways brands are making the most of its technology.
In an interview with Taylor, we learn how best brands lead effective multichannel marketing strategies:
Leading UK-based online fashion retailer ASOS launched an integrated Facebook shopping application powered by Usablenet’s platform that combines shopping and social media by extending full e-commerce functionality to the ASOS Facebook community. Customers can safely and securely shop the entire ASOS product range, which expands by approximately 1,300 new product lines each week, through the Facebook Store using their existing ASOS login. With 11 million unique visits per month and a following of close to 500,000 on Facebook, ASOS now offers all customers the opportunity to buy, save, share and comment on items without needing to leave the social networking site.
Millions of people already interact with ASOS through Facebook by commenting on, sharing, and discovering new items — many of whom go on to buy something on their traditional e-commerce site. ASOS opened its Facebook store as a way to allow consumers to discuss products within their Facebook community, and purchase products without having to leave Facebook — greatly enhancing the overall shopping experience.
ASOS also operates a hugely successful mobile commerce site on the Usablenet platform that launched this past October. From launch through December, sales on the ASOS mobile site topped £1 million — more than doubling the company’s internal forecasts.
Another great example of multichannel success was demonstrated by specialty apparel and home decor retailer Garnet Hill. Garnet Hill experienced an 300% increase in mobile sales since it soft launched its mobile site with Usablenet in mid-December. On the Garnet Hill mobile site, users can experience full e-commerce functionality as they would expect from the traditional website — including the ability to conduct a full product search, check order status, and browse deals of the day. Another smart and effective feature Garnet Hill implemented on its mobile site was to empower users to easily enter item numbers and source codes from the printed catalog to conveniently pull up products on their mobile phone.
Retailers that neglect to optimize a mobile strategy with full purchasing capabilities are losing considerable business. Despite the sharp increase in smartphone adoption, consumers are reluctant to purchase via sites not optimized for mobile. In fact, 80% of the surveyed participants were unable to complete a product purchase – 38% because the site was not optimized. The optimization of Garnet Hill’s mobile site is a great example of consumers demonstrating their desire to shop via mobile, with an easy-to-use version of the site that ensures secure transactions.
Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer entered the multichannel commerce space with the launch of its mobile site last year and saw a tremendous response. Within the first 3 months after launch, the M&S mobile site received over 1.2 million visitors, with more than 10 million combined page views. Proving the willingness of consumers to make purchases from their mobile phones, the mobile site experienced over 13,000 orders in just 90 days.
Marks & Spencer views its mobile commerce site as a fully integrated channel alongside the Web that drives sales and quickly gets product into the hands of its customers. Further, by syncing the mobile site with its traditional website, Marks & Spencer has increased order sizes and revenue by enabling shoppers to log into their regular Web account and complete transactions from their mobile device and vice versa.
Marks & Spencer’s multi-channel operations are a key area of growth, as consumers increasingly shop with them through a range of channels, and the company’s goal is to be the UK’s leading multi-channel retailer. M&S intends to grow its sales to between £800m to £1.0bn over the next several years, and a key part of this growth lies in its commitment to offering customers a seamless, high quality shopping experience whichever way they choose to shop – in stores, online, from their mobile devices, and beyond.
Fairmont Hotels recently launched a Usablenet powered iPhone application targeted to affluent consumers and frequent business travelers that allows users to do much more beyond the booking and management of reservations. In addition to empowering customers to book or change reservations at any time, the app also features the option to search for hotel packages by theme, with categories including Celebration, Culture, Discovery, Family, Food & Wine and Gold. Users of the app can also view guides of the 10 best destinations surrounding each hotel, which directs them to the best food, activities and shopping near the area they are staying.
It was very important for Fairmont to show off their beautiful hotel properties, so Usablenet created the app to include photo slideshows of Fairmont hotels that not only pull images from Fairmont.com but also incorporate user-generated photos from EveryonesAnOriginal.com — Fairmont’s online community of guests, colleagues, and fans. Whether guests want to book a business trip to Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York, visit the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, or find a last minute package for a long weekend with the kids at Fairmont Washington, D.C., the iPhone app has them covered.
As the first department store to sell merchandise online, JCPenney has long been a leader in the digital space. In December, JCPenney continued its e-commerce innovation as the first major U.S. retailer to make its entire product inventory available for purchase within Facebook.
Powered by the Usablenet platform, JCPenney customers can complete transactions without having to leave Facebook. With over 1.5 million “Likes”, JCPenney uses its Facebook page as a vital tool for engaging its customers as they interact with the brand. By introducing commerce capability directly within its branded Facebook page, JCPenney is able to take the Facebook experience to the next level, and provide users with convenient features that encourage social integration and user contribution as they shop. Ultimately, JCPenney expects its Facebook e-commerce application to drive sales based on convenience and access.
PacSun was an early adopter in bringing an optimized mobile site with full commerce functionality to market and has been successfully engaging with customers and selling product through mobile since 2009. The company is set to launch its first iPhone application next month, and they used the Usablenet platform to make its entire online inventory available for purchase within the application. Beyond commerce, the app will have a number of cutting-edge features set to deepen customer engagement and take advantage of new technologies like an outfit builder that allows users to mix and match outfits and a built-in QR scanner that can scan QR codes from magazines, in-store displays, and other print ads. Important to all businesses who sell product online, the app features the ability to integrate with PacSun’s existing analytics tools allowing them to track the performance of the app separately from their respective HTML and mobile sites.
PacSun has also extended its multichannel approach to physical retail stores with the deployment of fixed computer terminals that run an optimized, touchscreen version of its website. This Usablenet-powered solution allows PacSun sales associates to better serve customers — for example, by locating out of stock items online and ordering them via e-commerce in the store. Since the solution integrates with PacSun’s existing POS system, all orders are accounted for streamlined to the central back-end system. PacSun has implemented these optimized touchscreen solutions in all 800+ of its stores.
What other great brands do you know that our leading awesome multichannel marketing strategies? Share in the comments please!