Top 5 Things to ‘Know’ About Mobile

Success in mobile means being aware. And it means making sure the rest of the organization is aware, too. From designers and marketers to the CEO, the creation of mobile-first culture is key.

Why go to such trouble? Statista reports that mobile smartphone traffic is set to increase tenfold from 2014 to 2019. During back-to-back sessions during the daylong Digital Marketing Workshop at Retails Digital Summit by, retailers explored best practices of mobile strategy.

Speakers included prAna Director of Global E-commerce Gary Penn, mobovida Vice President of Marketing Edwin Choi, Chico’s FAS Director of Digital Commerce Kristin Smith and Toys “R” Us Vice President of Digital Product Management Victor Ortiz.


See more insights from Retail’s Digital Summit: Check out the event recap.

Their top tips:

Know the mobile KPIs

Choi joined mobovida in 2011, tasked with improving the mobile accessory company’s “miserable” mobile conversion rates; the company has since seen a 500 percent growth flare. Among Choi’s pillars of success: “A watched metric is an improved metric.”

What those metrics are will depend on the organization: “What is important to you?” asked Smith (pictured above) of women’s specialty retailer Chico’s FAS. “Is it sales? Downloads? New customer acquisition? Or are you going for profitability and cost savings?”

No matter the key performance indicators, Penn spoke of the importance of building a team that goes across functions of organization. That mobile team might include marketers, project managers and graphic designers. All need to know what’s going on — and all need to feel some sense of ownership.

Know the customer

In order to get into the minds of customers, Toys “R” Us looked at numerous data points. Among them: form responses, Voice of the Customer, what customer service representatives were hearing and what customers were saying indirectly, as evidenced by website analytics. “When we thought about our customer experience, we really wanted to create a journey and understand, ‘Where are the micro-moments that are going to have the biggest impact?’” Ortiz said. “We can’t change every aspect of the journey, but if we focus our attention on the right spot, then we’ll know that we’ll have the best returns. Making sure we’re constantly thinking about what they’re doing and where they’re coming from would help us out.”

Know how to design and test for the mobile user

At Columbia Sportswear lifestyle brand prAna, the mobile strategy includes letting users influence design through A/B testing. “Not our CEO, not the marketing team, not the designers,” Penn said. “We let the users dictate our design through A/B testing.”

He often gets asked how to know what to test. “The answer to that,” he said, “is a combination of quantitative and qualitative data.”

By watching actual user sessions, creating online focus groups and gathering other data, the company discovered its site was too difficult to use; A/B testing helped raise the site’s conversion rate by 18 percent and the passthrough rate by 36 percent. “We were very excited about this and tempted to do a fist bump and say, ‘Yes!’ and be done with it,” Penn said. “But we’re not. It’s important to gather learnings from your A/B tests.”   

Know the right balance of human and machine learning

Toys “R” Us has incorporated machine learning to help personalize the search process for its mobile customers, Ortiz said. “But then there’s also aspects of the business that we know best, where we will know more than a machine will.” 

Know what success is

A large part of success is recognizing and meeting those goals and KPIs. But Smith also spoke of failing fast and learning from it. She shared the story of an app developed at a previous company that generated negative feedback. It was clunky, she said, and adoption was pretty low. But it was introduced as an iPad-only app to test before rolling out across multiple devices and operating systems. Some features of the app did work well, she said, and there was much to be gleaned from the experience.

Overall, Smith noted, “One of things you want to avoid is what I like to call a ‘field of dreams’ approach to strategy.” That’s when there’s a goal, but not any strong tactics for achieving it.

The conversations around mobile strategies and tactics will continue at Retail’s Digital Summit this week  in Dallas.