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Rakuten COO Bernard Luthi Discusses Mobile Trends

Apple’s recent unveiling of its latest tweaks to the iPad line likely means its eager customer base will adopt some of their newest gadgets and put them to good use. Among those uses is shopping, something shown to be more than just a trend.

Ecommercebytes.com looked a little further into mobile trends, courtesy of a conversation with Rakuten Chief Marketing and Operating Officer Bernard Luthi, who said nearly one-fifth of Rakuten’s shoppers in the US are using some type of mobile gadget as their main device when visiting.

What kind of trends are you seeing with regards to advertisers and the balancing of non-mobile and mobile ad spends?

Bernard Luthi: We certainly are seeing mobile becoming a larger component of campaigns. As users are spending more time on their devices, advertisers are following them to those devices. With that said, there are still limitations on mobile’s capabilities. Landing pages may not have as much functionality as their non-mobile counterparts.

What factors should small and medium sized business sellers consider when deciding how to manage that balance of spending on mobile and non-mobile advertising?

Bernard Luthi: SMB sellers should make sure to accurately identify what the ultimate call to action is for their customers, and see where they feel their users are most comfortable completing that action. Wherever they are seeing their customers taking action is where they should be allocating their advertising dollars.

Which non-travel or entertainment sectors have you observed gaining rapidly in terms of click-through and conversions from mobile ads?

Bernard Luthi: We are seeing a great amount of growth from the consumer electronics and apparel/fashion categories, especially when the mobile campaigns are targeted towards more affluent consumers and by gender (consumer electronics for men and fashion for women).

We are also seeing increasing email opens on mobile devices and as a result, we are adding a mobile responsive design version of our promotional emails to increase mobile engagement.

“There’s still work to be done in order to tailor the mobile shopping experience for consumers by providing new ways of searching and discovering products on the go, offering more mobile shopping incentives and ensuring mobile payments are secure and seamless,” Luthi also noted.

Who has impressed you among SMB online retailers with how they’ve adapted to mobile, in terms of both their sites and their campaigns?

Bernard Luthi: JackThreads is a site that has embraced mobile trends fully, and has an impressive responsive-design website that adjusts its layout automatically depending on the size of the window/client viewing it.

Similarly, Thrillist features a responsive design website, and also has a full-featured mobile app that drives mobile-specific campaigns utilizing push notifications and geo-location for hot deals, pub crawls, new food spots, etc. (Note: JackThreads and Thrillist are both part of Thrillist Media Group)

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.