In Depth

Mobile Tips And CEO Shifts

This week in our Online-to-Offline Tracker, we look at ways to keep mobile shoppers engaged, the land of O2O opportunity (India) and the continued trend of eCommerce startups growing into mature online-to-offline businesses.

 

Tips For Keeping Mobile Shoppers Engaged

One of the biggest challenges brands face is keeping shoppers engaged on mobile devices. While there has been a sizable uptick in mobile shopping, the gap between browsing and purchasing remains substantial. Internet Retailer recently outlined some sage advice for keeping consumers engaged with mobile shopping apps and converting more of those casual browsers into actual buyers.

With retailers rushing to get into the mobile game, they are often overlooking key components of good app design, and with most apps used on average only 13 times before they are abandoned for good, there is a small window to get users hooked. One recent survey cited in the article showed that 49 percent of mobile shoppers consider using their device to make purchases stressful, and over half of respondents also said they are not satisfied with the current mobile retail experience. So, what can retailers do to get their apps right?

Internet Retailer’s tips include thoughtful editing and de-cluttering of the mobile app experience, with a focus on a single “hero feature.” This is the one useful function your app provides that changes a key component of something the user is trying to achieve in the real world — think mobile boarding passes for the airline industry. While shoppers appreciate personalization, 71 percent of mobile users say convenience is their top priority.

Another tip: Try something new, be novel. Mobile wallets are gaining traction, with 83 percent of respondents saying they are easier to use than credit cards. These digital wallet apps give retailers new avenues for engagement long after the transaction. Based on information captured in a mobile wallet transaction, a retailer could easily send a follow-up email to stay engaged with the customer, even after they’ve left the store. These sorts of unexpected uses of app capabilities are the types of things that could capture a mobile audience’s attention and encourage them to continue interacting with a retailer’s technology.

 

O2O Marketplace Continues To Heat Up In India

Alibaba-backed Paytm has recently acquired startup Near.in, an app-based marketplace for local services that seeks to connect India’s extensive network of brick-and-mortar businesses.

In a statement to YourStory, Paytm Senior Vice President and Head of Investments Kiran Vasireddy said: “We see enormous potential for O2O in India and acquired Near.in to strengthen our O2O initiative. Paytm will continue to invest more in this space, which is a key focus area for us.” According to reports, which have not been substantiated by either Paytm or Near, the deal was valued between $1.5 million and $2 million.

Launched by Sunil Goyal, Lomesh Dutta and Akshay Khanna in July 2014, Near.in allows users to search for local services and helps them connect with service providers and professionals. Currently, it’s operational in four cities: Delhi, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Importantly, the app uses a hyper-curation approach, focusing on personal services instead of business listings.

Investment in O2O-based apps is booming in India. Earlier this year, Paytm also pumped $2.5 million into Chandigarh-based autorickshaw hailing platform, Jugnoo. Besides offering rides, Jugnoo also makes hyperlocal B2B deliveries, leveraging its network of autorickshaws in multiple cities. Paytm additionally offers mobile wallet services and operates a number of mobile-only marketplaces in the fashion, electronics, bus ticketing and hotel booking sectors.

 

Indochino Replaces CEO As It Preps For A Push Into Offline Retail

On Tuesday (Dec. 8), Vancouver-based Indochino, which sells custom-made suits online, announced it had replaced 29-year-old Founder and CEO Kyle Vucko with Canadian entrepreneur Drew Green. According to an article by Forbes, the company says the move is an effort to further its push into offline retail. This makes Indochino the latest eCommerce startup to shed founding leadership as it forays into offline commerce.

Unlike many eCommerce businesses, which can experience slow or stagnant growth, Indochino grew its revenue by 40 percent and opened seven brick-and-mortar locations in North America over the past year. However, as Vucko stated to Forbes in a recent interview, the addition of offline retail put “a lot more strain” on the operational side of the business. “ECommerce is a hard business, and retail is just as hard or harder in some ways. To pivot into a new model at scale is a lot different than if you’re a bunch of people in a basement starting from nothing,” he told the outlet. “It’s a steep learning curve.”

Vucko met Green, founder of Canadian eCommerce site Shop.ca, over the summer. At that point, Vucko had already “raised his hand” to step down and give up his seat on the board. He will be staying on as a key shareholder and advisor.

When asked for comment on the state of Indochino, Green told Forbes: “There isn’t a glaring challenge or something we’re trying to overcome.” He said he expects to grow the company’s business from approximately 30 percent offline retail to 50 percent. Indochino plans to open more brick-and-mortar locations, including potential expansion outside of North America, but Green attests that the company does not have any current plans to abandon its online roots.

“Retail will be the fastest-growing category online over the next five years, and there are certain market opportunities we plan to invest heavily in,” he remarked. ”We are creating a truly global billion-dollar brand.”

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