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EDITORIAL Welcome to the golden age of mobile – and its good news for brands that target the young

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The increase in ecommerce use during the global pandemic and its attendant lockdown has driven use of mobile as a commerce channel to new heights. As with all things digital, evolution here has been sped up and now more shoppers than ever are using mobile.

And this is great news for retailers as the switch to apps that many consumers are undertaking is making them much more engaged – consequently, they are also much cheaper to acquire.

Research by Adjust looking at ad impressions across 10 million installed apps has found that engagement has surged 40%, as 14.7% purchase rates tower over last year’s 10.5%. The data also finds that, over the past two years, purchase engagement is also up 110%.

Meanwhile, the same study has found that the cost to acquire a user who completes a first purchase has decreased by more than half year-on-year, to $19.47.

This switch to mobile has been driven in the main by convenience – and there can be no doubt that it is also being driven by younger consumers, most of whom are mobile-first in all things. Just witness the run up to Father’s Day in the UK: research by App Annie shows that the top app in Shopping for both iOS App Store and Google Play Store is Moonpig, surpassing app giants Amazon and eBay. Moonpig is also listed at number six in the charts overall. FreePrints (Photos Delivered) is listed at number one in the Photo & Video charts for Google Play Store and number six for iOS.

This trend for convenience driven by mobile has also helped some fashion retailers into the bargain. While apparel has been perhaps hardest hit of all retail sectors by lockdown, some fast fashion sellers that tap effectively into the younger demographic have managed to actually come out of lockdown quite well.

Boohoo, for instance, has seen sales rise by 30% over March, April and May. While the first three weeks of March were pre-lockdown, the growth has been steady. While the company should be praised for its agility in rapidly switching from ‘going out’ clothes to ‘stay at home leisurewear’ almost overnight – and getting its marketing around that spot on – much of the growth  has also been driven in no small part by online and mobile strategies.

The retailer not only got its stock right, it also read the room perfectly with immediately pushing its younger customer base online – and in many cases that meant mobile.

Aiming to tap into this, US-owned young fashion brand Forever 21 has also chosen now to launch an online store and transactional app in the UK to service both here and mainland Europe.

It too has seen sales rise over lockdown in its existing US, APAC and LatAm markets and, inspired by the growing switch to online shopping among UK consumers, sees now as the time to launch.

These two brands both see online fashion as a winner. Where many have gone under and many others have struggled to reach shoppers stuck at home with a convincing online presence and sales pitch, Boohoo and Forever 21 have both shown that it can be done.

So strong does Boohoo now feel about its online abilities, it has bought the online business and assets of Oasis and Warehouse from the official receiver and will integrate these two brands into its own ecommerce platform over the summer.

This not only emphasises Boohoo’s faith in its own brand online, it also shows that it thinks that, done right, it can make Oasis and Warehouse work online as brands too.

It has form: it bought Karen Millen – once itself a stable mate of Oasis and Warehouse – at the end of 2019 and has managed to guide that through lockdown and keep its head about water too.

It just goes to show that there is no such thing as a sector that can’t sell online – nor that can’t keep going in extraordinary circumstance. If the proposition is right, if the mix of online and mobile is right and the message is right, it can be done.

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