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Rue La La exec: Tablets make up 50pc of mobile revenue

BOSTON – A Rue La La executive at the eTail Boston Mobile Shopping Summit said that mobile continues to be a strong revenue driver for the company with half of sales coming via tablets, predominately from iPads.

The “User Experience Optimization On Mobile Devices To Capitalize On The Mobile Growth Sensation,” session featured executives from Rue La La, Staples, United Airlines and WhaleShark Media who spoke about how consumers interact with multiple screens and the revenue opportunities that mobile presents. The panel was moderated by Rajesh Reddy, founder/CEO of July Systems, San Francisco.

“I think the critical thing is that the more people you have on multiple screens, the more revenue you’re going to generate,” said Perry Cooper, chief marketing officer at Rue La La, Boston.

Personalization is key
Mobile plays a huge role in Rue La La’s flash sale strategy.

Mobile makes up 35–40 percent of the company’s overall sales, per Mr. Cooper.

In particular, time of day and personalization are key.

Prime traffic to Rue La La happens at 11 a.m. when the company’s sales go live. Consumers also tend to be tethered to their devices during the weekend versus a desktop.

Additionally, merchandising and personalization will be main factors in how mobile will be used in the future. For instance, if a product is sold out, being able to communicate with a user about when it will be available can be effective at driving retention.

John Faith, senior vice president of mobile at WhaleShark Media, Austin, TX, who also spoke on the panel, agreed that app downloads can be effective for both branding and retention.

Easing pain points
Prat Vemana, director of mobile strategy at Staples, Framingham, MA, believes mobile can be used to help solve pain points of both in-store and online shoppers.

In addition to helping consumers buy items online, Staples has also integrated features such as bar code scanning into its app.

By looking for ways to solve these pain points, Staples is able to bring some stickiness to its app to keep consumers coming back regularly.

It is also important to constantly get feedback back from consumers on how to improve an app, per Mr. Vermana.

“For us, we look at mobile as an additional channel, not an extension of the Web,” Mr. Vemana said. “It allows us to think through what are the right pain points for the customer who is on the go.”

After seeing a jump in tablet traffic and growth, Staples launched a mobile site optimized specifically for the devices.

App retention
Although it is important to drive downloads, it is equally as important to build features into apps that keep consumers regularly coming back, per Jeff Ulrich, senior manager of emerging technology at United Airlines, Chicago.

United launched its iPhone app in October 2010, when many airlines ahad already delved into mobile.

Instead of immediately rolling out an app, United focused more on the operational issues from mobile and how to get content such as flight information to consumers.

One of the main features of United’s app is a mobile boarding pass to help speed up the boarding process at airports. Per Mr. Ulrich, the majority of consumers that are using this feature are smartphone users.

As an extension of the mobile boarding pass feature, United is rolling out a feature next week that will let consumers check-in multiple parties from different devices.

Additionally, tablets are an area that the company is looking at, whether it is in an app or a mobile Web site.

“Once they download it and use a mobile boarding pass and see how easy it is, they’re going to go back to it and use it the next time,” Mr. Ulrich said.

“It’s not just getting them to download it – it’s getting them to pull it out at the right time to use it,” he said.

Final Take
Perry Cooper is chief marketing officer at Rue La La, Boston