For years, retailers believed that to stand out in a mobile world they needed to create flashy apps and sites. However, as time goes on, more retailers are indicating that their most successful mobile initiatives offer utility and valuable content that make consumers’ lives easier, rather than more entertaining.
As one of the leading U.S. beverage and lifestyle retailers, BevMo! has created a mobile-optimized site with utility at the core. Created in partnership with Moovweb, the new site is stationed on a cloud-based platform that enables the retailer to seamlessly merge its mobile, desktop and in-store experiences, and empower consumers to choose the best beverage recipes for all occasions.
“The growth rate of mobile has been extraordinary,” said Francesca Schuler, CMO of BevMo!, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “An increasing number of people are using their mobile devices for everything: Whether it’s to locate a store, check if there’s inventory in the store, or look up a rating. So our goal is to meet the customer where they want to be met.”
Another key goal for BevMo! is to create a consistent, always-on experience, Schuler noted. Although brick-and-mortar makes up the majority of the business, the option to order online and pick up in-store, as well as mobile-optimized drink recipes, product recommendations, gift recommendations, and more, make the shopping experience more convenient.
“We have the capability to give you what you want, where you want it and when you want it,” Schuler said. “We view mobile as just one of many channels that we use to create this seamless experience. We hear some people talk about mobile strategy as if it’s totally independent from everything else. But we’re using all the same principles across all our channels — we’re just tailoring the features to the technology.”
Consumers also can use the mobile site to sign in to their ClubBev! loyalty program accounts and redeem points and deals. All of these core components ensure BevMo! is providing consumers everything they need, when they need it.
Optimized Sites Vs. Apps
Before initially partnering with Moovweb on the mobile-optimized site, BevMo! spent several weeks analyzing web traffic and sales, and the role that mobile played in consumers’ day-to-day lives.
The team concluded that creating an optimized site would be more efficient than an app, largely because consumers could have an immersive experience — but without taking up space on their devices.
“We know that we all have hundreds of apps on our phones, but in reality, we only use three of them,” Schuler noted. “Our goal is to make our web site friendly across all devices, so people can just go there when they need it, and don’t need another app to download.”
Schuler confirmed that the mobile-optimized site allows BevMo! to reach loyal customers just as well — if not better — than a branded app: “Our best shoppers browse and buy all categories. They want to look at their club points; they want the private party planner. They use all of our products and services. Trying to find an app to do that would just basically be recreating our web site.”
That doesn’t mean the mobile mission is accomplished. The optimized site is merely phase one. In the next year, BevMo! will be adding more to the mobile experience, including party and wedding planning, and drink recipes, Schuler noted. “So when you click on a recipe, you can get instant shopping lists.”
The retailer also will be adding more personalized components to the mobile side, including product recommendations and unique offers. “That’s the next phase we’re moving into,” Schuler said. “We want to be a fun, very approachable retailer that also has a lot of expertise. We don’t want to be intimidating. Mobile is a great way to get that message out.”
But don’t expect overly flashy features anytime soon. “We don’t need to invest in some whizz, bang mobile app,” Schuler explained. “At the end of the day, people want to know what’s in a martini, where they can buy the ingredients, and where they can pick it up so they can make it tonight. Think of the apps you use: You use the ones that are functional. You use the ones that save you time or give you access when you need it. That’s really what we’re focused on.”