By Adam Forrest, Director of Product Marketing

Last week, I attended eTail Europe at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. eTail Europe brings 600+ leading senior-level ecommerce and online marketing professionals from diverse verticals to share ideas and collaborate on ways to succeed in the new retail reality.

With the continual rise of consumer orders coming from mobile devices (I heard as high as 50% from and most others in the 30% range), delivering the most relevant consumer experiences on mobile devices was a topic of conversation that an entire day of the event was dedicated to.

In the session, “Building For Mobile First: How Do You Prioritise What To Include On Mobile Vs. Tablet Vs. Online?,” Joel Rendle, Head of Multichannel Retail at Bettys, Violaine Muras, Head of Digital Commerce at Avenue 32 and Andrew Gilboy, VP EMEA at Demandware discussed mobile strategies at their respective companies to help retailers understand their options based on both company size and consumer demographics. Here are just a few of the topics discussed:

Best approach to mobile – responsive, adaptive or native app?

  • Violaine Muras from Avenue 32 discussed the benefits of adaptive design for their organization. Avenue 32 has a relatively new direct-to-consumer business with a small team, so when looking at mobile options, they found the strategic approach was to go with a design that works best for the mobile phone. The benefit of being relatively new and nimble with a small team also allowed Avenue 32 to really think about usability on the mobile device – specifically search and guided navigation – with a keen focus on how best to present their luxury brand on the smaller screen.
  • Andrew Gilboy from Demandware spoke about the benefits that responsive design brings to retailers. Unlike adaptive, responsive design allows you to work with multiple breakpoints that will respond to the device size. Responsive design allows retailers to more effectively work with a variety of devices compared to other approaches. As a result, Demandware rolled responsive design into the commerce platform and it is used as the starting point for Demandware’s clients. With Demandware’s rapid and continuous innovation that comes from the cloud, retailers are easily able to take advantage of new trends quickly with minimal effort.
  • To app or not to app, that was the question. All three panelists agreed that native apps have their distinct place. However, for most retailers, it’s just not for them. Event-based retailers, such as and RueLaLa, have legitimate reason for push notifications and triggers, and consumers are happy to download the apps. But for most consumers who shop across many different retailers, the real estate on the phone homescreen is too valuable to clutter with a seldom used native retail app.

Will push notifications replace email marketing?

  • The panelists agreed that push notifications were much more personal, but also more intrusive than email, since they are directly on a smartphone and disrupt behavior. Joel Rendel from Bettys mentioned that a few years back at an industry event, the retail community proclaimed that email was dead. Today, however, it is very much alive and still one of the most effect ways to entice consumers, when done correctly. Email will be around for a very long time as a result of the accuracy and timeliness of delivery.

What is the best strategy for mobile?

  • While the strategies for the best mobile approach may differ from retailer to retailer, all of the panelists agreed that you need to start with understanding your customer. Joel from Bettys said the client is not king anymore – he is now “master of the universe.” Retailers need to be customer centric to be successful, and the best way to measure is to look at your customer satisfaction score month-over-month to see if there are improvements.

The rapid evolution of mobile still remains a hot topic of conversation and with the introduction of new phones and new technologies, it will continue to remain a major investment and focus area for retailers.