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Crate & Barrel exec: Keep it simple with mobile checkout

NEW YORK – A Crate & Barrel executive at the NRF 103rd Annual Convention & Expo spoke about the importance of making the mobile commerce experience as quick and easy as possible.

During the “Unlocking Mobile Conversions” panel, executives from Crate & Barrel, Gilt and Kiehls all discussed the different ways that mobile is aiding them in retail. The panel was moderated by Charles Nicholls, founder and chief research officer of SeeWhy Inc., Boston.

“In our minds we are thinking of a persona – fat-fingered Suzy who’s always busy,” said Shehaam Flot, product manager of mobile and gift registry at Crate and Barrel, Chicago. “You should make it really easy for her.

“Don’t make her type, don’t make her think,” she said. “Make her type in the ZIP code and tell her what the city and state is.

“[It’s about] cutting out the bloating of design, making sure you have the primary customer in mind. Optimize for them. Don’t optimize for everyone under the sun.”

Make it easy
At Crate & Barrel, the focus on mobile is always on making it as easy as possible for the customer. The company’s motto is KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Since the experience is already handicapped with a small screen and small keys, it is crucial for the checkout to be as streamlined as possible to deter cart abandonment.

Ms. Flot listed a few small things that a retailer can do to cut down on the time it takes for a consumer to checkout on mobile.

Firstly, ask for the least amount of information necessary. Instead of asking for city, state and ZIP code, ask for ZIP code alone and figure out the city and state from that.

Similarly, Ms. Flot advised making the default keyboard appropriate for the information being inputted. Meaning that if the consumer is asked to type in a ZIP code, default the keyboard to numeric, and if the consumer is asked to type in a name, default to the alpha keyboard.

As small as it may seem, these few changes can help keep a customer around and avoid turning them away at the time of checkout.

Jason John, vice president of online, mobile and social marketing at Gilt, New York, also spoke about the importance of cutting down on the time it takes to checkout.

One of the ways that Gilt cuts back on time is by letting customers take a photo of their credit card instead of typing in all of the numbers. Gilt also leverages Apple’s background fetch capabilities so that images are ready before a consumer even clicks on a page, cutting down on the load time.

“We keep going after that tenth of a second time save,” Mr. John said.

Simplifying in-store
Tory Diamond, director of CRM at Kiehl’s Since 1851, New York, spoke about how the skincare brand applies these principles of making it easy for the consumer to the in-store experience.

Kiehls recently implemented a Snap Tag program in its retail stores to let consumers find out more information about products in-store.

Originally consumers had to download an app to scan an image beneath products, but consumers did not seem to want to download an app, so Kiehls simplified the process by letting consumers take a picture of the image on their phone and text it to a number.

Kiehls then replies to the text with a link to the product page with more information, customer reviews and videos.

“There’s so many different things you can do and put in your stores,” Ms. Diamond said. “We have all this great information, but it’s about figuring out the easiest way to get it to them.”

Mobile stats
The panel’s moderator, Mr. Nicholls, opened the session with some staggering numbers about mobile commerce that support the executives’ philosophies on simplifying mobile, especially out-of-store and online.

According to Foresee research, 95.5 percent of smartphone mobile Web sessions do not end in a purchase. Forty-six percent of abandoners say they were not yet ready to purchase and 41 percent say they did not want to buy on mobile.

However, there are also some more optimistic numbers for mobile.

In the last six months, mobile has grown from 13 percent of conversions to 19 percent.

Additionally, as alternative forms of payment grow, more mobile consumers are converting. Foresee found that 101 percent more consumers convert on smartphone with alternative payments.

“We can make it easier to search stuff on a smartphone. Given the size of the screen, that’s challenging,” Mr. Nicholls said.

“When you look at when people bail, it’s when they get to the page after the cart, that’s where you have to start entering details,” he said. “Fat fingers and small screens doesn’t work. What can we do about that checkout process itself.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York