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Jason JohnVice President of Online, Mobile and Social MarketingGilt.com
Gilt.com is constantly looking at new ways to ramp up the mobile retail experience, which stays consistent across a variety of devices. Jason John, vice president of online, mobile and social marketing at Gilt.com, spoke with eMarketer’s Rimma Kats about how the company designs for its smartphone and tablet apps, as well as whether or not responsive design will help marketers in the long run.
eMarketer: Is the experience you create the same across tablets, smartphones and desktops?
Jason John: We do create some unique experiences. Fundamentally, I think it’s important for a consumer to have some sort of core brand experience across different devices, but there is uniqueness to each device that we try to tailor. For instance, the tablet is much more image-intensive and image-driven. So to create a more editorial feel, we use the Retina display images to enhance features and functionality. People also say they browse more at nighttime in a more relaxed atmosphere with their iPad, so having that editorial feel really helps with that type of behavior.
The tablet and the smartphone are similar, but the tablet is more immersive and has larger images. And you’re able to show many more alternate views if needed. For example, [our tablet app’s] “drawer” feature allows you to scroll down and scroll through other products in the sale. It’s just a little bit more image-based, image-focused, and there’s more screen real estate, so we’re able to take advantage of that.
The tablet is a longer visit. Tablet shoppers are usually more relaxed. They’re usually at home—a more relaxed setting.
Smartphones are geared more toward speed, even though we still have beautiful images on the phone as well.
eMarketer: Do you find that the shopping behaviors vary between smartphone and tablet users?
John: We see that with smartphones, consumers come back more frequently and shop for less time. Smartphone shoppers are more in the cab, on the train, walking to work—hopefully not crossing a street. So they’re much more frequent but spend a much shorter amount of time. So we have a smaller window of time to get them what they want.
On a smartphone, you have a 1- or 2-minute shopping window. So we try to make things much faster. Sometimes we sacrifice some of the larger images or image-intensiveness for a little bit more on the speed side—to try and get people more easily in and out of the shopping experience. But fundamentally, there is an underlying “Gilt-ness” to each of the devices.
eMarketer: How are you taking advantage of the longer time consumers spend on the tablet?
John: On the tablet, we’re trying to engage the consumer at different times of the day. We’re trying to move away from consumers just engaging with us at noon. There are opportunities to shop with Gilt throughout the day. Then, with the tablet, we see that nighttime activity. We see that increased morning/weekend activity, so being able to tailor certain sales is important.
For instance, we have a new franchise we launched with our kids group, Wednesday Night Kid Sales, where we see a lot more of the moms at home on their tablet browsing. So we launched some more exclusive sales for that consumer group on tablets at night to try and take advantage of that behavior.
eMarketer: Gilt has been ramping up its mobile-only sales for a while now. Can you talk about that approach?
John: We’ve been doing mobile exclusives for about the past two years now. We’ve also launched first-look sales so that our mobile customer is able to take advantage of sales a day before they go live on the website. We do this to give an added value and benefit to our mobile consumer, but it also drives buzz and engagement.
We find that people are really excited about the “mobile exclusive” sales. As they’re coming back more frequently on mobile, it gives them more of a reason to continue to do so and encourages that behavior in the future.
If they keep coming back and the site is stale or not refreshed, they start to get bored pretty quickly and obviously can turn to other avenues for their entertainment. So we try and keep them engaged and knowing that there’s always going to be something special coming down the road.
eMarketer: What’s your take on responsive design? Do you use it? Are you planning on using it?
John: It is definitely in our roadmap to use responsive design. We don’t use it currently. We launched on mobile devices three-and-a-half, almost four years ago. We didn’t know where this road was going to take us. I think it’s getting to a point where multiple platforms and multiple designs are just really hard to maintain and really hard to manage moving forward.
So, the concept of responsive design is a great one as long as it’s done correctly, which is not always the easiest thing to do. I think it’s definitely the path that we need to go down, and I think it’s the path that a lot of companies are going to go down in the future.
eMarketer: There’s been this ongoing debate for years about mobile sites vs. mobile apps. Which do you think are more effective?
John: It’s really up to the business and how much it’s putting into either one. I’ve seen really great mobile websites, and I’ve seen really poor mobile websites. I’ve seen really great apps, and I’ve seen really poor apps. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. I think consumers engage with both apps and the mobile site.
If you can take advantage of the phone and the operating system, then the app is the way to do that. Mobile websites have a come a long way—they can be as effective as apps if you have a specific target and consumer and behavior in mind. So my long/short answer is pick one and make sure you’re doing it really well.
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