Tapping Into Shifting Buying Habits, ModCloth Launches An iPad App

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Over Christmas, employees at ModCloth, the indie and vintage fashion site founded by a husband and wife team, noticed that about 30 percent of the site’s visits were coming from mobile devices. The staggering shift in consumer habits from desktop devices to smartphones and tablets that caught companies like Facebook off-guard was starting to affect smaller online retailers, too.

So ModCloth is coming out with an iPad app today.

Now the thing is they don’t think about the iPad or the phone as just another channel for buying clothes that exist in isolation. They think about how all three devices — the PC, the tablet and the smartphone — work together in concert to help customers decide what to buy and when to buy it.

So for example, they send out push notifications on new items or ones that are just about to run out of stock. Modcloth customers won’t necessarily buy right away, but they’ll save the items from these push notifications for browsing later. The iPhone is for quickly collecting potentially interesting items to check out later.

In contrast, the iPad turns out to be a great device for leisurely browsing.

“With retina images, the iPad is just a fantastic and superior way to shop, so we wanted to focus on it first and foremost,” said Sarah Rose, the company’s vice president of product. In it, Modcloth users can zoom in on fabrics and clothing details.

“On the phone, our customer doesn’t have much time. She’ll look at the feed of arrivals and put favorites on the wishlist,” Rose said. “On the iPad, she’ll look at the reviews and take a closer look at styling.”

The iPad app has some basic sharing features and processes transactions through Braintree and PayPal.

Rose didn’t have a breakdown of how many transactions actually came in from the iPad. Before, they just had a mobile-optimized website. Other larger e-commerce companies like Groupon have said that 30 percent of their transactions in North America come from mobile devices. 

Modcloth has raised about $50 million in venture funding from firms including Norwest Venture Partners, Accel Partners, First Round Capital and Harrison Metal Capital. The company has posted 50 percent year-over-year growth, although they didn’t provide any figures to give sizing on how many transactions or customers they’re seeing per year. They now have about 350 employees.

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