As marketers continue to pour money into mobile optimization, it’s getting harder to impress smartphone-savvy consumers. But some brands are belting mobile out of the park, and L2, the digital think tank, names the eight that were the best in the business for 2014, across four different categories.
L2 taps Walgreens and the Home Depot as the winners for in-store mobile apps, citing Walgreens' enormous popularity with shoppers: It is used by an estimated 55% of consumers while roaming the drugstore chain’s aisles. In addition to supporting its 100 million-member Balance Rewards loyalty program, it is also testing iBeacon technology at some of its New York stores, and finding that those who are targeted by iBeacon are more than 16 times more likely to use its app in-stores, which in turn increases basket size. It’s also experimenting with 3-D in-store mapping.
And the Home Depot wins based on its apps’ “In-Store Experience,” which uses geolocation for store-specific deals and maps, with an easy-to-use list-building interface and ready access to inventory. “This depth of fusion is rare in retail and embodies the perfect way to keep consumers informed, satisfied and returning,” it writes.
Sephora and Starwood Hotels & Resorts lead in the loyalty program category. L2 singles Sephora out for the newest twist on its Beauty Insider program and Sephora To Go app, which combines an omnichannel strategy with the ability to manage purchase and sampling history, and wish lists. It helps beauty fiends replenish favorite shades, formulas and brands. It’s also integrated with Passbook, which enables Sephora to message loyalty members who are in a store, or even nearby.
And Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which it says stands far above other high-end hotel brands, is “delivering the new digital standar of low-touch luxury from discovery to booking to checkout.” With the basic history on member’s stays, preferences and points, Starwood’s function are “elegant,” it says, “leveraging its saved profile in tandem with native geo-local functionality to complete local bookings without any data entry.” In a test of keyless entry, guests can even access their rooms using just a mobile device.
In terms of mobile content integration, L2 names L’Oréal Paris and Tory Burch for outstanding user engagement. At L’Oreal, “by consistently using all pages on the site as a repository for branded collateral, consumers are naturally guided through site experiences with guided selling tools, curated content, and tutorials that blend content and commerce. And its content app, “Makeup Genius,” lets women dabble in products with augmented reality, mapping 64 points on the user’s face. The app, downloaded 1.7 million times in the U.S. and France, generates user ratings that are more than twice those of rival apps.
Tory Burch shines by sending mobile users straight to the Tory Daily blog, “which engages and retains consumers with a range and depth of content not seen on other Fashion brand sites.” Blogs are expertly linked to product pages, so people can put fashion items in their cart without navigating away from content. Seasonal look books on the tablet version make it easy to shop for entire outfits, with an “Add All to Bag” button.
And for responsive design, L2 says the winners are beauty brand Physicians Formula and automaker Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes site uses a “fluid grid,” allowing vehicle selections to be optimized for many device sizes, and its “quick mobile download is supported by a simplified design without graphic heavy pages.”
Because mobile now accounts for 39% of total search for beauty brands, up from 30% in 2013, 43% of beauty brands have a distinct mobile URL, reports L2. Physicians Formula is the leader among them, “sharing digital assets across desktop, tablet, and mobile, which succeeds in the difficult task of creating a cohesive user experience on each.”