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Wet Seal uses mobile to increase cross-channel presence

Apparel and accessories retailer Wet Seal has launched an iPhone application as part of its cross-channel strategy to integrate the best features of its online presence with its customers’ in-store experience.

The key feature of this application allows Wet Seal shoppers to see thousands of suggested outfits using styles they find while shopping in the retailer’s stores.

“Because all of these outfits are created and rated by visitors at this application demonstrates how the use of social media can be a key to customer engagement and cross-channel integration,” said Jon Kubo, chief information officer at Wet Seal, Burbank, CA.

Consumers are able to browse through tens of thousands of outfits created by the Wet Seal fashion community.

Users can search outfits by tag number, trend and style.

Additionally, users of the application get access to the most popular outfits and are even able to email outfits to their friends.

Using the GPS feature of the iPhone, consumers can locate the nearest Wet Seal locations to them. They are also able to view store information.

The iPhone’s user demographic perfectly fits Wet Seal’s target audience. The iPhone user demographic is about 20 percent of all customers for the clothing chain.

Wet Seal revealed it will soon be launching a mobile site.

In addition to the upcoming mobile site Wet Seal has collected mobile numbers and opt-ins for mobile messaging for the last two years and conducted SMS campaigns to the opted-in customers. 

The company believes that the use of mobile as a strategic touch point is just beginning.

Although it is possible to purchase an item via this application, the mobile commerce functionality is not the major purpose of the iRunway application. 

Wet Seal is planning to launch a separate mobile commerce application specifically designed for mobile shopping and purchase later this year.

Mobile has become an important engagement tool for retailers lately.

For example, Tommy Hilfiger Corp. has taken a giant leap into the mobile space with the launch of a commerce application meant to drive additional engagement and sales.

The retailer tapped Art Technology Group Inc. for the creation of the application, which lets consumers explore, search and buy the brand’s apparel anytime, anywhere using their handset (see story).

Florist Inc. has an iPhone application and recently extended its mobile commerce initiative to the Android platform.

The mobile storefront is available as a downloadable application for handsets running on Google’s Android operating system. This newest storefront joins an already-existing 1-800-Flowers mobile commerce store on the mobile Web and applications for the iPhone and BlackBerry (see story).

It’s no wonder why retailers are increasingly turning to applications to extend their brands and increase sales.

EBay generated $400 million in business from its iPhone application in just nine months.

EBay President/CEO John Donahoe said mobile is one of the key areas that the company is focusing on since devices will surely impact the way that consumers shop (see story).

That is precisely why Wet Seal has launched it iPhone application.

“Mobile is an important touch point for the Wet Seal brand not only in providing shopping convenience for those customers which are not in a store but also as a touch point to integrate online features such as social media with the store shopping experience,” Mr. Kubo said.