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Express launches mcommerce site with free shipping offer to encourage trial

Following the success of its iPhone application that launched earlier this year, Express has rolled out a mobile commerce-enabled Web site to serve as an additional customer touch point and to drive revenue.

The site at features real-time promotions and new arrivals, offering consumers the opportunity to purchase the full range of online products anytime, anywhere. The site is available through all smartphones and will feature account and wish list functionality.

“The strategy begins with our customer,” said Jim Wright, vice president of CRM and ecommerce at Express, New York. “Being connected is a must-have with our core demographic so for us it’s about the entire 360-degree Express experience and mobile is becoming more and more important. 

“Therefore we see mobile as both a consumer touch point and a revenue driver,” he said.

Perks , scans and word of mouth
Proximity Perks will bring consumers geo-targeted promotions and store information based on where they are at any given time. 

Consumers will also be able to bar code scan, which will allow them to review all product information including pricing, colors and reviews. 

Consumers will also be able to share this information with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter.

The Express mobile site was the first built on the Fry platform.

“By deciding to build on the platform shared with our ecommerce business we were able to create full synchronization with the back end,” Mr. Wright said. “All pricing and inventory feeds are synced with real-time data and customer account preferences are also shared.

“The goal is to deliver a positive and consistent brand experience,” he said.

Driving commerce
Express is getting the word out about its mobile site via mobile ads, SMS, social media, email, and even in stores with a holiday call-out to win an Express shopping spree.

The company launched the mobile commerce-enabled site with a free shipping campaign to encourage trial and help understand the impact and opportunity for mobile.

The merchandising strategy on the mobile site mirrors the online strategy. However, mobile commerce is a new channel for Express and the company plans to evolve its mobile merchandising strategy as it learns more about consumers’ on-the-go shopping habits.

“Mobile has changed the meaning of multichannel retail support in the last year or so,” Mr. Wright said. “It has changed everything for the customer and for the retailer. So for the retailer, the Internet has balanced out to have about two main browsers and three main operating systems but in mobile there are significantly more customer options.

 “This has resulted in more platforms which create more challenges in providing an ideal user experience,” he said. “But these challenges are a positive as it requires retailers to really think about their strategy and create a meaningful experience. Mobile also provides another touch point for our customer to interact with the product.

“It allows us to tell more stories and for the customer to interact with product information in the store environment by reading reviews. This further fuels customer demand to have a relationship with a brand at all times and in any channel, making the need for complete consistency critical from both a customer experience and branding perspective.”

Final take
Mobile commerce is growing and many retailers are looking at growing their mobile commerce strategies and are not sure whether they should build a mobile optimized Web site or whether in fact they should build dedicated applications for the different devices like iPhone and BlackBerry and Android.

Ecommerce service provider ElasticPath suggests retailers think carefully whether a mobile app or a mobile optimized Web site is right for them.