Mobile is becoming an increasingly significant sales channel for many online retailers, particularly for those who sell merchandise through flash sales.
Mobile sales recently accounted for more than 50% of a day's sales on Rue La La, a 6 million-member website that offers limited-time discounts on a range of goods and services in popular categories including fashion, home and travel.
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Steve Davis, President of Rue La La, says that mobile sales have been rapidly and steadily accelerating as the company has aggressively promoted and upgraded its apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as its mobile-optimized site. A year ago, mobile devices were responsible for just a tenth of sales.
Other flash sales sites are also seeing growth. Mobile devices account for nearly 25% of revenue during the week and 30% on the weekends for Gilt, up from 15% a year ago. Twenty percent of all sales for Gilt City take place through its mobile app, double what it was a year ago, Christopher Gonzalez, director of mobile product at Gilt.com, tells Mashable.
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Approximately 40% of shoppers visit design goods-focused site Fab.com through the retailer's apps for iOS and Android devices. Although Fab.com refused to disclose what percentage of sales come from mobile, a company spokesperson did say that mobile revenue per week doubled in the first quarter of this year, and that mobile shoppers made purchase decisions in half the amount of time as desktop shoppers and bought more often.
It makes sense that flash sales sites are seeing the mobile boom ahead of other kinds of online retailers. Merchandise frequently sells out in minutes at sites such as Rue La La, Fab.com and Gilt. In response, consumers frequently log on to those sites as soon as their sales go live each day. If they're not at their desks, they're firing up their mobile devices. I suspect that many are also using personal mobile devices at their desk to hide their browsing and purchasing behaviors from their colleagues and superiors.
Flash retailers also observed some interesting trends across devices. About 60% of Rue La La's mobile sales are made on iPhones, followed by iPads (30%), and Android phones and tablets (10%). Fab.com found that iPad users are more valuable: although only 15% of Fab.com's members have browsed the site with an iPad, those customers are expected to generate 25% of the company's revenue over the next two years. iPad traffic tends to peak in the evening, Gilt.com notes. Both Rue La La and Gilt noted that weekends are especially popular for mobile because shoppers are less likely to be in front of a desktop computer.
Davis also pointed to the rise of "multiscreen customers." Members who access Rue La La on desktops, mobile and iPad devices are 540% more likely to purchase than a member that only shops on the desktop version of the website. Similarly, Gilt.com found that customers who shop on both desktops and mobile devices spend four times as much on average than customers who only shop on the full site.
How much more can mobile sales grow? Davis says he expects mobile will begin to bring in more sales for Rue La La than desktops by Christmas-time, accounting for somewhere between 50% to 70% sales on the weekends, and between 50% and 60% on the weekdays. The forecasts for other flash sales may be more modest, but the trend is still up.
This story originally published on Mashable here.