Baby products retailer Kiddicare moved into mobile in a big way this week with the launch of both an iPhone app and a mobile site.
I've been talking to CEO Scott Weavers-Wright about Kiddicare's move into mobile commerce...
Why launch a mobile site and app at the same time?
We didn’t want to alienate any customers, so we opted for this route to appeal to as many as possible. It wouldn’t be fair for non-iPhone users to be out of the loop.
It was developed in-house, and we started developing the app to gain some insight into mobile. It allowed us to develop our back end processes.
The mobile site came out of the development of the app and piggybacked on it. Basically, releasing the app and the site ensures that we are covering all bases. We have the same URLs on the mobile site as the main site, and the same number of products are available on the app.
What percentage of visitors to Kiddicare came from mobile?
7% of total traffic to kiddicare.com came from mobile phones, and half of that was from iPhones. This is why the app makes sense. In fact, we did a survey of customers six months ago. We have 40,000 buyers every month, and 16% of these said they had iPhones.
What are the major differences between site and app?
The most obvious is the scanning technology on the iPhone app, which uses RedLaser. Users of the app can now go into a high street store, scan barcodes of products and compare prices against our stock, which is invariably cheaper.
The app does a couple of things at this point. Firstly, it will bring up a result from Kiddicare if we stock it, and thereafter the customer can go ahead and buy it.
When we have no matching barcodes on our system, we refer it back to find the product name, then search through our own system for similar products, and provide users with alternative product suggestions, so if they search for a car seat that we don’t stock, we’ll offer one from our product range.
All this is done on the fly so the customer is unaware what is happening. The whole process takes just around four seconds.
The checkout is perhaps the biggest area of friction for mobile commerce – how have you tried to make purchasing as smooth as possible?
This comes back to usability, and we’ve been focusing on this for the last eleven years. We’ve never used an agency for this; I believe much of it is just common sense.
We currently allow people to proceed to checkout without registration on the main site, but we have made the decision to put registration before checkout on the mobile versions, for marketing and discount purposes.
On mobile we’ve allowed people to save their credit card details for next time, something we don’t do on the main site.
This means that, while the initial purchase requires some effort on the part of the customer, the second order can be a one-touch process, which makes it as seamless as any mobile transaction can be. All customers have to do is confirm the details and enter the card security code.
Is the app all about appealing to existing customers?
Yes, the app is all about that, as people downloading the app are likely to be familiar with Kiddicare already, while the mobile site is more about attracting new customers.
In fact, on the mobile site, we received an order within four minutes of launching it, before we even had a chance to put a test purchase through. On the app meanwhile, a customer that hadn’t placed an order since April bough a £200 car seat. Clearly, it was easier to use the app than to go and boot up their PC or laptop.
What’s also encouraging is that we didn’t even publicise the app, and we have only started promoting the mobile site today, so this shows that the demand is already there. I hope this is a testament to the ease of use of the mobile site, but it also indicates that there is an appetite for shopping via mobiles.
My approach to the app was to have a transactional site out there, but I also look at it as a portable mail order catalogue for Kiddicare. It’s exciting that, very soon after launch, people are not just browsing but buying.
The Kiddicare website contains plenty of ‘extra’ features like reviews, videos, comprehensive filtered navigation etc – have you managed to provide these for mobile users?
We have tried to keep it as close to the main site as possible, so we have 2,500 product videos available for mobile users, and shoppers can see user reviews on product pages.
On version two we will adding to the filtering options available on mobile, and incorporating more of the user reviews data into this.
Will you be developing an Android version of the app?
Yes, we have plans for an Android version, first to appeal to users of Android phones, but Android may also give us access to a range of devices, including TV.
Do you see iPad being important for mobile commerce?
I think it’s slightly early for Kiddicare to develop for the iPad, but it’s a great device, and as we become aware of the numbers of iPad users accessing our site, then we can respond.
If it comes to a tipping point, we have the flexibility, as well as an existing iPhone app which is compatible.