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EBags adopts mobile-first strategy with innovation lab to drive growth

Digital retailer eBags is implementing a shift in its strategy, which will focus on mobile-first technologies and innovations, an approach that coincides with an overall goal of introducing ingenuity wherever possible.

EBags’ Innovation Lab will consist of a team of people, spanning various locations, working to bring the best mobile tools and ideas to its consumers. The retailer came to this decision after seeing a growth of a 78 percent increase year-over-year through smartphone devices, and will now focus on developing practices for mobile first and then expanding to desktop from there.

“The Innovation lab concept we have just launched is interesting because it is not a group of mad scientists in a physical lab,” said Peter Cobb, co-founder and executive vice president at eBags. “There is a team of people in India, Ukraine, Silicon Valley, and Denver all working together virtually on the latest innovative thinking and mobile-first strategies.

“When we launched in 1999, we envisioned that the digital world could look like this,” he said. “It has taken a bit longer than we thought, but clearly it is coming together to create a digital perfect storm.

“In the next three years there will be a tidal wave of advancements in mobile and Internet of Things.”

The retailer’s new strategy is hoping to develop new innovations to engage consumers and drive sales, and after seeing such a shift to mobile devices eBags believes that smartphone devices is where the future of the company lies.

Many technology developers have created content and technology for desktop, and are simply shrinking these efforts to the mobile screen. EBags feels as though this is a serious misstep, and will now be creating content for mobile-first and then growing it to desktop.

Reducing the size of content for mobile creates a crammed experience full of bugs, which easily frustrates consumers. To ensure conversion rates and sales completions it is important to serve content to mobile users that fits the screen.

The retailer has an inventory of over 60,000 bags, which is difficult to sort through, and can be overwhelming to browse on a mobile device. EBags developed a mobile-only tool, named Obsession, where users browse merchandise in a Tinder-like manner, one item at a time, which can be liked or skipped.

EBags will be rolling out more innovative features for mobile similar to Obsession in the future. The brand will still be cognizant of the world in Desktop, but knows that mobile is where consumers are spending the majority of their time.

Retailers going mobile
Other ecommerce retailers such as Amazon and eBay doubled down on mobile-driven omnichannel shopping experiences, but struggled to deliver the same level of convenience that traditional retailers can harness and which smartphone-equipped shoppers are demanding (see more).

Also an executive from Beyond the Rack at eTail East 2015 conveyed a similar belief and feels that all retailers should introduce a mobile commerce application, but they need to put significant effort into it and not simply launch one for the sake of being mobile (see more).

“EBags is alive today because we are willing to take calculated risks,” Mr. Cobb said. “We have real time data showing customer adoption and mobile is quickly becoming the device of choice.

“One goal at eBags is to increase conversion rates,” he said. “It is about the shopping experience and creating stronger customer engagement so they say ‘wow I shopped at eBags and they exceeded my expectations.’

“In a crowded retail environment, eBags has to be superior across the board.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily