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Lacoste exec shares brand’s hits and misses in mobile

The company’s first application, which launched in April 2009 did not have a lot of functionality, just video. This year Lacoste introduced a commerce-enabled application, which it finds is doing well in the mobile commerce space.

“Our initial experience [with the application] was not too popluar,” said Maryssa Miller, director of ecommerce at Lacoste,” New York. “Our first app had very little functionality.

“While the downloads were high, the engagements were minimal,” she said. “There really wasn’t a reason for them to come back – there was no content.

“Our purchasing app is a new goal [for us], which provides Lacoste lovers an integrated brand experience with very easy shopping features.

Mobile fits all
It is important to determine the current mobile experience for a brand.

According to Ms. Miller, companies should look at data through current Web analytics to see how many mobile visits they have, the conversion rate from the mobile visits and how it compares to the overall site and the devices the customers are using to visit.

The company’s mobile strategy planning began in early 2009, where Lacoste researched the mobile technology available, allocated money for the budget and started its initial test on mobile applications. 

Lacoste’s initial mobile experience was not a good one.

When users accessed the Lacoste application, they were led to a blank page due to Flash dependency.

“You have to do budget and research allocation,” Ms. Miller said. “It’s not something that you can do tomorrow.

“You have to know what devices your customers are using,” she said.

Apps vs. mobile Web
Lacoste also researched whether applications or the mobile Web are a good fit for the company.

“One big difference is that people tend to assume that there’s less functionality in an app,” Ms. Miller said. “If you are going to focus on building an app, focus primarily on your objective.

“Take advantage of the inherent functionality of the iPhone,” she said. “It really needs to be focused on the user experience.”

According to Ms. Miller, one in five consumers use smartphones for mcommerce, so a mobile version of a Web site is becoming increasingly critical.

In addition, typical branding is difficult with such a small space for imagery so it needs to be focused on user experience.

Lacoste saw more success with its Shop Lacoste application.

The company saw that iPhone users generated the most revenue source last year, while the iPad users came in second place.

“The iPad is definitely changing things,” Ms. Miller said. “We started seeing that the pages were increasing from the iPad almost immediately after its launch – we’re curious to see what happens with the iPhone 4.”

Lacoste found that sales through the Shop Lacoste application appear to be incremental to generic mobile sales.

Downloads for the application came from all over the world, including Mexico and China.

Current challenges
The company is noticing several mobile challenges.

Tracking from mobile is limited and consumers change their devices often, so the shift in user base is difficult to keep up with.  

According to Ms. Miller, the user experience is critical, but there are different expectations for mobile browsing and purchase.

Additionally, the in-store experience is an advantage for mobile commerce.

“The in-store experience has a huge advantage for mobile commerce because before people couldn’t bring their computer to stores,” Ms. Miller said. “Now, that’s basically what they’re doing.

“Now they have access to that on the palm of their hand,” she said. “Also, an event experience can be enhanced by a mobile functionality.

“During Fashion Week, we saw a huge spike in mobile views – people were experiencing our brand, seeing the products and we’re looking to do similar things at other events like the U.S. Open.”

Ms. Miller addressed several key points that brands should use to move forward with mobile.

Companies should evaluate their current mobile experience, get to know their mobile customers, build applications or a mobile Web site, be prepared for holidays when mobile views to retail sites spike dramatically, publicize their mobile options on a continual bases and keep their eye on the data for ongoing changes. 

Ms. Miller would not reveal what portion of sales Lacoste got on mobile versus online and in-store.

“I can’t give you the exact number,” Ms. Miller said. “You’re only going to see two to three percent.

“That number is definitely going to increase when users become more comfortable with mobile,” she said.