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Rue La La’s mcommerce sales surpass ecommerce in one-day record

May 11, 2012


The Rue La La iPhone app

For the first time in flash sales site Rue La La’s history, mobile sales surpassed online sales on April 14, representing 53 percent of the day’s total revenue.

Based on the company’s sales trends, it predicts that mobile sales could be as high as 50 percent to 70 percent on weekends and between 50 percent and 60 percent on weekdays going forward. While mcommerce sales are increasing across the retail industry, Rue La La contends its percentages are the highest that have been reported among its competitors.

“The flash sale model is the perfect catalyst for mcommerce and the urgency caused by timed sales is playing a large role in the success and increase in mobile sales across the industry,” said Steve Davis, president of Rue La La, Boston.

“Rue La La launches boutiques each day at 11am EST and our members are aware that they need to act quickly or they may miss out on buying something they really want,” he said. “For those members not accessible to a laptop at 11, the mobile app allows them to access the boutiques while they’re on-the-go.

“Another key factor is the way we set up shoppers for checkout on our apps and mobile site. Our members have to be logged in to their account to use any of our mobile platforms, so their shipping and payment information is already saved so the process is seamless.”

Mcommerce takes off
Rue La La’s numbers point to how quickly mobile commerce is growing for retailers that have focused on delivering strong, differentiated mobile experiences. In Sept. 2011, Rue La La reported that 22 percent of its sales were happening via mobile at that time.

However, the industry average of mobile commerce sales is much lower than 50 percent. IBM recently reported that mmobile commerce sales reached 13.3 percent of online sales during the first quarter of 2012.

Per Mr. Davis, 50 percent of sales from mobile is a goal all retailers should have in mind.

“For some retail models, it may not occur for a few years, but mobile is here to stay and consumers will continue to use it to shop whenever they have the urge, or the time to do so,” Mr. Davis said. “Waiting to shop until you get to your desktop is something that the next generation will find humorous.”

A leading force
Rue La La has been a leading force in the mobile retail space and using mobile to differentiate itself.

Over the past year, Rue La La has increased its commitment to push notifications and seen results such as a 25 percent increase in user sessions for its apps in response (see story). Last fall, the online retailer introduced a mobile-only feature called Right Now that lets members watch the movement of products in real-time so they can see which items are selling quickly and which sizes are sold out (see story).

“At Rue La La, we have put a lot of time and effort into growing our mobile offerings over the last two years and have learned what our members respond strongly to,” Mr. Davis said. “Smaller assortments are more effectively merchandised and shopped than large assortments.

“While all products perform well on mobile, products that don’t require a size – accessories like jewelry and handbags – generally sell really well for us over mobile,” he said.

“The most important lesson is that the mobile shopping process be easy. Checkout ease is a ‘nice to have’ on a desktop – it’s a have to have on mobile.”

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