Threadflip Explains How to Excel at Mobile Commerce

This is the second in a series of interviews with top product managers at mobile-focused companies. The interviews include exclusive content covering best practices, KPI optimizations, mobile predictions and more.

Anand Iyer, Threadflip’s CPO, sat down with Kiip to discuss mobile commerce.

threadflip2

Image source: Facebook

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a PM for a mobile app?

The process for the user to enter credit card information correctly the very first time must be perfectly seamless. It’s the most crucial step in mCommerce and the step that is the easiest to get wrong. We’ve conducted hundreds of user tests, and credit card information gets entered incorrectly 60 percent of the time. Mobile keyboards, environmental distractions and hundreds of other factors makes entering 16 digit codes on mobile difficult.

What key metrics do you monitor and optimize to build successful mobile apps?

Our metric focuses are the buyer conversion funnel and seller engagement. The buyer conversion funnel is focused on conversions like visitor to signup, and signup to action (loving, following, add to cart). Here’s an example of how we caught a product change that impacted a key metric. We recently moved the love icon used to favorite an item from above the fold to below the fold. When we moved it below the fold, fewer items were being favorited. As a result, overall user retention started to drop because sellers were getting less push notifications that their products were being favorited. Additionally for a seller, you won’t know that someone is trying to buy your item, so push notification opt-in rate is an important metric we optimize to improve seller engagement. We recently 1.5x’ed this rate.

What’s your favorite third party tool? Analytics, user attribution, ab testing, etc.

We separate our analytics stack into two buckets — committed vs non-committed actions. Committed actions are events like purchased items, sold items. We have our own backend analytics for these, and use tools like Looker and RJ Metrics on top of the databases. Non-committed actions are events like views, and we use Mixpanel to track these. We also use Optimizely for A/B testing with some homegrown solutions, Deeplink.me for deeplinking and Sailthru for marketing analytics. We have our own homegrown solution for push notifications.

What’s one complementary service that you wish existed for developing mobile apps?

One service that I wish was easier is segmented user interaction. So taking certain user qualities, actions, etc and sending personalized messaging to reflect that user profile.

What are your thoughts on mobile apps vs mobile web?

We’re bullish on the app ecosystem more so than mobile web. The richness of the app experience and the ability to retain users through push notifications are powerful. I think mobile web is a nice gateway, but for Threadflip the mobile goal is getting the user to download the app. The value of an app user is way greater than someone who just uses the mobile website. Additionally for sellers, you can’t upload photos on mobile web, so that limits the user activity and lifetime value. A great example of our ideal user funnel — there was a user who visited the mobile site on an iPad, downloaded the app, requested a full-service kit from us, listed 12 items, sold 6, and then bought 2 items. Massive lifetime value.

What mobile commerce trend are you most excited about?

The alt currency movement. It alleviates a lot of pain with payments, which is what we talked about first with credit card entry problems. Anything that removes friction in the payment process is hugely valuable for mobile commerce. Additionally credit card fees take a sizeable percentage of our revenue — that 2% is not something that you can simply ignore. It will be interesting to see both buyer and seller user behavior. Will sellers immediately cash out to dollars?

You can see the original interview here. Come back to the blog next week to read an interview with Arash Hadipanah, Rue La La’s Senior Mobile Product Manager.


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  • Thanks for this write-up!
    I would add that engagement with the mobile shopping app will be able to be key of mobile commerce in future.
    Social media and email marketing campaigns won’t do the trick for these demographics, so it’s important for merchants to get creative. One way to do this is through push notifications sent from a mobile commerce app which have a tap-through rate of about 40-50%. Email open rates hover around 15-20%. Mobile User are more likely to pick up their phones to see a notification and then shop than they are to take time reading a promo email or social post.

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  • Roman Shevchenko

    Thank you for article!
    Online store owners it would be useful to know about opportunities to improve your profit, expand the base of customers in the fast-growing market.
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