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Etsy exec: Mobile amplifies conversations between consumers and brands

BOSTON – An Etsy executive at the eTail Boston Mobile Shopping Summit said that context is key in creating both mobile sites and applications that connect users with brands.

During the “Mobile Web vs Mobile Apps, A Case For Both” the Etsy executive spoke about how Etsy has carved out its mobile strategy over the past year with a mobile site and an iOS app. Additionally, the presentation gave attendees tips on what types of content to include in both.

“Our browse is way higher on mobile Web than our native apps. Think about context – think about how users are using your app,” said Leland Rechis, director of product at Etsy, New York.

“When we bring this all together, that’s how you can think about your brand in the real world, and I think mobile really amplifies that conversation you have in the real world with customers and the brand,” he said.

Cross-platform marketplace
Etsy’s online marketplace claims to have 800,000 sellers with 40 million unique visits per month.

Etsy launched its mobile Web site one year ago and rolled out an iOS app in November 2011 to ramp up for the holiday shopping season.

More than twenty percent of the company’s traffic comes from mobile devices.

Instead of making Etsy’s entire site mobile-friendly, the company focused on mobilizing key pages that consumers most often visit.

As an example of a brand that misses the mark with its mobile site, Mr. Rechis showed how United Airlines could have a better mobile experience.

When users search for the airline’s United Club lounge locations on desktop, they are automatically taken to a specific Web site with information on the lounges. When a consumer does the same on mobile, though, searches redirect to the homepage of United’s mobile site, which forces users to start from the beginning.

In this case, using a Web site might make more sense to get consumers information, even if they have to pinch and zoom.

Additionally, it is important to test content to see what works on specific devices. For instance, Etsy has removed Flash from its desktop site so that content loads correctly on tablets.

Social shopping
With more than 50 percent of Facebook and Twitter users accessing the social sites from mobile devices, it is important to think about how a page will look when accessed from a mobile phone or tablet while a consumer is using social media.

Etsy looked at its traffic and found that consumers use Facebook to  favorite products, which redirects to a mobile detail pages and eventually to an Etsy shop. In order to acquire that user and drive a sale, Etsy focused on mobilizing its listing, shop, check-out and registration pages.

Similarly, significant traffic comes from mobile on Pinterest, where Etsy has a strong presence. One in every five commerce links on Pinterest redirect to Etsy, according to a study from Bizrate.

“Think about how people are there and trying to find information quickly. Allow them to get that answer – don’t hide things,” Mr. Rechis said.

Etsy’s mobile site

App retention
A mobile site can be used to get users to download an app, which drives retention.

In order to get retention, features such as push notifications keep a brand top of mind for a consumer.

For example, Etsy’s app sends a special notification when a seller gets an order that sounds like a cash register. Buyers can also receive notifications to interact with sellers on specifics about their order.

Additionally, Etsy chose to include browsing history and activity feed on its app, which shows what items that a user’s friend likes. This feature was rolled out on the company’s app before the mobile site to get users to come back on a regular basis.

“People look at the desktop and you would think where does mobile and mobile Web sit if you look at all the things you can do on a desktop. I propose that mobile Web is actually a super set of what happens on the desktop,” Mr.  Rechis said.

“Your native app is a cross between what you’re doing on your desktop, what you’re doing unique in mobile Web and new and unique things you can do,” he said.

“We don’t care where you buy something – we just want it to be seamless across all the platforms that you’re experiencing Etsy on.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York