High-end retailers Neiman Marcus and Shinola discuss their web strategies for connecting to mobile shoppers.

Watchmaker and retailer Shinola can’t re-create the experience of shopping in one of its stores on a mobile device, but that’s not going to stop Jacques Panis and his team from trying.

“How do you get the consumer to smell and to taste and to hear?” Panis, president of Shinola, says. “We’re trying to [do that] through photography. Unfortunately your phone is not going to be spritzing you with the smell of Shinola, and you’re not going to be able to feel the leather.”

Panis and Lindy Rawlinson, senior vice president of customer experience at Neiman Marcus, spoke about selling to a luxury audience on mobile devices during a session Wednesday at the Women’s Wear Daily Digital Forum in New York.

Shinola, No. 329 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, is set to relaunch its website in the near future. With more than half of all traffic to Shinola.com coming on mobile devices, Panis told attendees that designing the new site with a focus on mobile was paramount. Purchases made on mobile devices account for 16% of Shinola’s e-commerce transactions, which means Shinola would get a bit sales boost is it could convert more of its mobile traffic.

“That shift in getting everyone to think mobile first, that was quite interesting as we were designing Shinola 3.0,” he says. “Making sure that your teams are not operating in any silos whatsoever, thinking about that mobile experience, it’s all about that mobile purchase.”


Neiman Marcus, No. 36 in the Top 500 and No. 102 in the 2017 Mobile 500, says it has invested significant resources to upgrade its mobile shopping experience. Among those investments: Equipping all in-store associates with iPhones so they can better connect with customers and help them find items online that might not be available in stores,  and implementing a “Snap Find Shop” feature that lets a shopper take a photo  of something she sees and then shop similar products on Neiman’s website instantly.

The Dallas-based retailer’s website utilizes responsive design, meaning it renders the site according to the device a consumer is using, and Rawlinson told attendees a big part of Neiman Marcus’s success on mobile has come from understanding how shoppers use its mobile responsive site and its app.

“From a mobile perspective, we’re always balancing what we’re doing on our responsive site, which is more about the shopping experience and conversion,” she says. “On the app it’s ‘what are the additional features can we connect with the consumers,’ whether it’s a gift finder to find a unique gift for any recipient or ‘snap find shop’ or easy ways to connect with your associates.”

As with Shinola, Rawlinson says the majority of Neiman Marcus’ e-commerce traffic comes from shoppers on mobile devices. That has led to a shift toward a more mobile-centric approach.

“We spend a lot of time optimizing the [mobile] experience, whether that’s in usability, A/B testing or how  we make the app or our responsive design site that much better for the customer,” she says.