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Design Within Reach exec: Smartphones are for utility, tablets are for discovery

During the “Design Within Reach: Why Small to Midsize Retailers Must Embrace Mobile” session, a Design Within Reach executive spoke about how the company picked which mobile platforms to be on. Additionally, the exec spoke about what Design Within Reach is working on.

“We’ve launched our mobile site with these two principles – mobile for utility, tablets for discovery,” said Mark Simmons, vice president of marketing and ecommerce at Design Within Reach, Stanford, CT.

“We have to go back in and find where’s that editorial, where’s the content, where’s the engaging stuff,” he said.

“We don’t just have to give you utility – we can give you a whole lot more engaging stuff, so let’s make that accessible as well.”

The Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2013 conference was organized by Mobile Commerce Daily.

Design for mobile
Over the past couple of years, Design Within Reach has been building up its digital strategy around solving problems.

Everything that a customer does on a brand’s Web site needs to be thought about how consumers will access it via mobile.

However, there are big differences in how devices are used.

For example, Design Within Reach’s iPad application serves three purposes – inspiring, learning and education.

When it comes to tablets traffic, gestures are key in the experience.

In addition to seeing a growth in tablet traffic, tablet conversions are also high for Design Within Reach, according to Mr. Simmons.

Marketers cannot think about mobile as only having an app or an optimized site. Instead, mobile affects every marketing channel.

For example, Design Within Reach sends out an email newsletter that is a digest of recent blog activities. In addition to seeing significant open rates happening on the weekends, the traffic is being driven by iPad devices.

Similarly, catalogs play a big role in how Design Within Reach reaches a wide group of users.

However, marrying digital into mobile is tough. QR codes for instance sometimes stick out like a sore thumb on a page.

According to Mr. Simmons, making QR code readers ubiquitous in handsets is one step in solving this problem.

Additionally, Instagram plays a big role for the company.

The brand has a yearly Champagne popping contest where consumers craft miniature chairs made out of Champagne bottles that used to be received via mail and often elaborately packaged.

By leveraging Instagram as a hub for the campaign now, Design Within Reach is not only able to cut down on shipping costs, but has also added a viral element that lets consumers share photos to their friends and family.

“It’s pretty phenomenal when you see a little trend in your audience,” Mr. Simmons said.

“Go after it and attack it because that’s where you’re going to build your best relationships with your customers.”

Solving a problem
Going forward, Design Within Reach is focusing on working out some of the bug fixes with mobile, such as making sure that redirect links work.

The company is also focusing on data to get a better understanding of its users since the company has high average order sizes and a low volume business.

Being able to predict what a consumer is looking for is critical, which also includes feedback.

“My recommendation for everyone’s mobile strategy is to not think about it as a mobile strategy – it is your digital strategy, which in turn is your customer strategy,” Mr. Simmons said.

Final Take
Mark Simmons is vice president of marketing and ecommerce at Design Within Reach, Stanford, CT