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How Gilt Groupe is closing the loop on mobile browsing, sales

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December 14, 2012

The new Gilt iPad app

Flash sales business Gilt Groupe is experiencing strong mobile engagement and sales results this holiday season thanks to a focus on merchandising and other strategies that help close the loop on browsing and sales.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, mobile orders on Gilt more than doubled compared with last year to account for 40 percent of total orders while mobile traffic increased 50 percent. These results point to Gilt’s leadership role in mobile commerce.

“The lower conversion is par for the course in the industry,” said Jason John, vice president of online, mobile and social marketing at Gilt Groupe, New York. “We are striving to improve that every day, mostly with our merchandising.

“We have started to see step improvements in conversions this year and this will be a big focus in the first quarter of next year,” he said.

“This is especially important as more of our traffic comes from mobile – we are close to 50 percent of traffic on mobile.”

New iPad app
This week, Gilt launched a new iPad app that leverages what the merchant has learned about mobile merchandising.

The new app is more weighted toward visuals and adds functionality such as a new shelf that enables users to easily browse between categories and items within a category with one tap. The app also features an improved shopping cart.

The iPad is just one example of how Gilt is becoming smarter about mobile merchandising and understanding which categories and price points sell better on mobile versus the Web.

One learning is that because mobile shoppers are typically more task-oriented, shopping by price point or category tends to be more prevalent on mobile. To address this, Gilt is focused on making it easy for customers to shop by price point or category.

Some recent design changes have also focused giving users the ability to easily move between categories with one swipe of their thumb.

“Shopping on mobile is more need based – they have a task to accomplish versus desktop or even tablet,”  Mr. John said.

Up to speed
Gilt is also focused on fine-tuning its apps and site to the point where the look and feel is optimized for speed from a shipping and stability standpoint. The goal is to optimize the user experience by providing a one-minute purchase process.

“There is an understanding that customers on mobile need to get in, shop and get out quickly,” Mr. John said.“That is hard to do in practice – it has taken a lot of refinement on our apps and site.”

The retailer also built its new iPhone app to feature larger images so it is easier for users to see the details on products.

Another focus is on creating more mobile-exclusive sales and prominently featuring these.

“Even if someone is going to cross-channel shop, this gives them something exciting on mobile,” Mr. John said.

Segmenting push notifications
Another key way Gilt is trying to close the loop on mobile browsing and sales has been getting a strong push notification strategy in place for the holidays. For the first time this fourth quarter, the merchant’s push notification strategy includes custom push notifications to different segments of the Gilt customer base.

Gilt is focused on segmenting its customers based on standard CRM segments, such as buyer, non-buyer, recent buyer and lapsed buyer. There are also more simple segments, such as sending notifications about men’s sales to male customers.

“As simplistic as that produces a lift in our push responses,” Mr. John said.

More broadly, Gilt is also focused on how to unify its messaging across channels and deploy mobile advertising to drive traffic and revenue opportunities.

For example, Gilt is working with Google on using mobile remarketing for the first time this holiday season. The retailer is also doing some testing on driving YouTube views for a recent TV campaign and driving traffic this way.  

“At the end of the day, [closing the loop in mobile] is about reaching an audience and getting your message in front of them and driving them back to the site,” Mr. John said. “It is about targeting and targeting the right customers.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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