Tobi.com, a web-only, fast fashion retailer for young women, relaunched its app about a week ago and early results are looking attractive. The app, built on U.K.-based mobile app platform Poq, has garnered 6,400 downloads and orders coming through the app have a 16% higher average order value than orders coming through Tobi’s mobile site. Additionally, shoppers are staying in the app 2.2 times longer than they stay on the mobile site, Tobi says.
Tobi is one of the first U.S. clients for Poq, which just launched stateside last month. Poq is also working with a large U.S. department store based in North Carolina for its app, but Poq wouldn’t name the store chain. Poq’s retail customers include fast fashion brands PrettyLittleThing (part of Boohoo.com plc, No. 182 in the Internet Retailer Europe 500), Oasis, Urban Planet and Made.com, which have all created both iOS and Android apps using Poq.
Tobi, which launched in 2007, has been profitable for the past six years, says CEO and founder Ken Chan. The retailer, which has about 150 employees and ships to more than 100 countries, had an app before, but it was built and managed in-house and was tough for staff to manage, continually improve and modify, Chan says.
“With the old app built in-house it was hard to do the basics,” Chan says. For example, it’s a best practice to update apps when Apple or Google release a new version of their mobile operating systems or launch new mobile devices. App updates are also an opportunity to update screenshots and app previews to highlight new features and functionality. Releasing regular updates keeps an app top of mind because it will show up in the updates list in the App Store or Google Play Store. Apple and Google also like to see app updates, especially with their major OS releases, according to Savvy Apps, a mobile design and development agency.
But the Tobi tech team that managed the app didn’t have time to constantly fix bugs or update the app with new features, Chan says. “We couldn’t keep up with app store updates or update when a new phone came out.”
Chan and the Tobi team chose Poq after evaluating 12 companies to create its new app—including app developers and service providers—over a one-year vetting process. Part of the reason Tobi chose Poq is because the company is a mobile app platform that is constantly iterating and adding new features that retailers can employ, rather than a digital agency that would build a single iteration of an app and then Tobi would have to pay for any new features and functions, Chan says. Also with Poq, non-technical employees can access and make changes to the app, Chan says. Additionally, Poq works with many other fast fashion brands similar to Tobi, he says.
The new app provides the retailer analytics data about consumer behavior in each of its global markets, Poq says.
Poq’s platform allows retailers to gradually add advanced features, such as product reviews and push notifications, as they choose. New features can keep customers engaged, Poq says. For example, Chan says Tobi plans to add push notifications to the app soon.
The app took about eight weeks to build and launched four weeks earlier than originally planned, Chan says.
Mobile is a large part of Tobi’s business. Tobi’s mobile website attracts more traffic than its desktop site; however, conversions are still lower via mobile than via desktop. Chan hopes to change this with the new app. He forecasts desktop to only account for 20-25% of sales two years from now.
Poq—which closed a Series B funding round in May, bringing the total raised to more than $21 million—recently added several new features to its platform including visual search capabilities.
The feature enables a shopper to upload an image—for example, of a woman wearing aviator sunglasses, carrying a large satchel handbag while wearing distressed dark denim jeans—and the search functionality will then return items a retailer has that are similar to what is in the photo. Poq is using visual search from technology provider Fashwell. Fashwell says speed to checkout is 2.2 times faster with visual search than with traditional text-based search. Tobi plans to add visual search to its app soon, Chan says.
In addition to relaunching its app, Tobi is working on other projects set to go live before the holiday shopping season, including a feature that allows shoppers to buy gifts and not pay for them until 2019. That payment and financing option will come from online installment payment provider Sezzle, Chan says.