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Apple Store’s mobile traffic equals desktop for the first time

The Apple Store saw mobile traffic to its online stores during the company’s fiscal third quarter equal desktop traffic for the first time, driven by interest in the Apple Watch.

The achievement was revealed during a conference call with analysts on Tuesday’s to discuss Apple’s quarterly earnings, when Apple senior vice president and chief financial officer Luca Maestri called the Apple Store application as an important contributor to the surge in mobile traffic. Apple also said that its retail and online stores saw a 49 percent year-over-year increase in visits, driven by strong interest in the Apple Watch, which was launched during the quarter and was only available for sale online.

“It’s hard to tease apart the general trend we’re seeing toward increased use of mobile for commerce against the changes Apple has implemented; the company has worked to push customers to order the Apple Watch through the Apple Store App or online, relegating the brick and mortar stores to Watch showrooms,” said Bill Magnuson, co-founder and chief technology officer at Appboy.

“Either way, it’s a clear signal that customers are both moving their purchasing to mobile, and are open to changes in store policies that might push them there,” he said.

App shopping
While Apple did not provide specifics about how many Apple Watches were sold during the quarter, a new estimate from Strategy Analytics pegs this number as 4 million.

Apple’s Mr. Maestri pinpointed the Apple Store app as an important contributor to the growth in mobile traffic.

The Apple Store app provides a strong example that other retailers can follow in terms of how to build an app that drives both online and in-store shopping.

The app enables users to start their order on one device and finish it on another. Users can also have items shipped to their homes or choose to pick them up in store.

To help users find and choose items, they can browse trending items and read reviews for hundreds of accessories. Additionally, users can make reservations for the Genius Bar and workshops.

With the introduction of the Apple Watch, the app assists users in finding the right watch for them by enabling them to click a heart icon to save their favorite models and compare them.

The integration of Apple Pay makes it easy for users to check out with a single touch. Additional features include the ability to check iPhone upgrade pricing and purchase a new phone. This service is only available in the United States.

“The Apple Store app marries user experience and design in a seamless, intuitive format,” said Stephanie Trunzo, chief operating officer of PointSource. “It offers all the features that consumers would need on a mobile device in a clean, clutter-free layout that is fully integrated across all platforms to create a true omni-channel experience.

“And, now that mobile has become people’s go-to computing device, it doesn’t hurt that the app is pre-installed on every Apple device,” she said.

In-store integration
While the features mentioned above may have helped the Apple Store drive mobile traffic during the third quarter, the app also provides several best-in-class examples of how mobile integrates with the in-store experience.

In-store, users can quickly purchase accessories on their own with Easy Pay without having to speak with an associate.

Also only in the U.S., users in-store can receive helpful information and fast access to store services on their lock screen based on their location in the store through the use of iBeacon technology.

“The one thing that really sticks out is the integration between the physical and mobile world,” Appboy’s Mr. Magnuson said. “The app enables special features when you’re trying to purchase goods or utilize services in brick and mortar stores, as well as the ability to easily choose between in store pickup and getting it delivered.

“They are catering to user shopping preferences,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York