What the Digital World Looked Like Last Leap Year

In 2012, online shopping was still heavily dominated by desktops, and there were 2 million fewer apps in the app stores.

2012 may seem like a world away, but it's the last time that we witnessed a leap year. How much do you remember?

In 2012, online shopping was still heavily dominated by desktops. Now, mobile devices conquer online visits, and smartphones alone produce roughly half of retailers' total web traffic. 

Compared to 2016, there were 2 million fewer apps in the app stores during the last leap year, and the most popular devices of that time are now at least two generations behind (if they still exist at all). 

Take a minute to go back in time. Times really have changed in four short years.

Mobile Shopping
11% of all online revenue came directly from smartphones and tablets in 2012. 

As of Q4 2015, mobile devices accounted for 31% of total online revenue, a 182% increase from 2012.

Cyber Monday
Retailers saw record-breaking online sales on Cyber Monday 2012 when online shoppers spent nearly $1.5 billion

Four years later, shoppers only became more comfortable shopping online. Mobile shoppers were responsible for a quarter of the almost $3.1 billion generated in online sales.

Popular Smartphones
You'd likely be using one of the top smartphones of 2012:

  • iPhone 5
  • Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
  • Nokia Lumia 900 or 920
  • HTC One X or X+
  • Samsung Galaxy S3
  • LG Optimus G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  • HTC Droid DNA
  • Pantech Burst
  • Nexus 4

Popular Tablets
Four years ago, the most popular tablets of 2012 included:

  • iPad 4 or iPad Mini
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9
  • Google Nexus 10 or 7
  • Microsoft Surface RT
  • B&N Nook HD
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Asus Transformer Pad Infinity or Vivo Tab RT

Top Apps
The Apple App Store and Google Play housed approximately 1.4 million mobile apps in 2012. Today, these app stores carry nearly 3.5 million mobile apps combined.

Remember the "Harlem Shake," one of 2012's best dance songs? We do!

Topics: Trends

This Week at Branding Brand: February 20-26


Be #happy today! #emoji #BeHappy

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Had a great time at #eTailWest! Photo by @mr_horowitz #PalmSprings

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Topics: Company

Why You Should Care About Mobile Security

Although security isn’t always convenient, it’s the reason that we don’t think twice about using our mobile devices as a personal lifeline.

Mobile devices are so much more than a vessel to communicate. They’re a lifeline to endless information and a place to store critical personal details, like medical data and credit cards.

Last week, Apple notified its customers of a court order presented to the company to create a way to unlock an Apple device electronically with unlimited passcode attempts. Currently, no one can access private information on an iPhone or iPad that isn’t in their possession because the information is encrypted and accessible only after the device is unlocked. Attempting to forcefully unlock a device will trigger security failsafes, including adding a delay between passcode entry attempts and ultimately deleting all data on it.

Although security isn’t always convenient, it’s the reason that we don’t think twice about sharing our location, allowing an app to access our photos, or using Apple Pay. Apple is dedicated to developing safeguards, and the company’s use of cutting-edge security features enables Branding Brand to provide secure shopping experiences.

Being secure doesn’t have to mean slow or bad user experiences, Apple’s security features provide our developers with ways to speed up and enhance digital experiences, like Touch ID, which allows users to access their accounts using their fingerprint, and the shared Keychain, which stores passwords that can be used in-app and in Safari.

When it comes down to it, security and encryption is all about trust.

“Customers can trust Apple and their devices, and we can help extend that trust between customers’ devices and retailer sites,” Branding Brand Director of Information Security Alex Cline said. “At Branding Brand, we take security very seriously. Apple’s multiple levels of encryption wouldn’t mean anything if we transmitted unencrypted data. It’s end-to-end encryption with end-to-end trust.”

Two of the newest additions to the iPhone’s security features include App Transport Security and Error 53:

  • App Transport Security: prohibits an app from communicating or transmitting data without a secure connection
  • Error 53: renders the device useless after breaking the connection between the home button and the fingerprint reader (This was recently updated to avoid “bricking” an iPhone that was repaired by an unauthorized third party.)

“With Error 53, Apple is guaranteeing no one can use your fingerprint to unlock your device with Touch ID,” Branding Brand Software Architect Sky Eckstrom said. “As soon as something severs the electrical connection between the home button and the secure enclave, it breaks the device.”

Is the request Apple received something to worry about? Not now. The technology to electronically unlock an Apple device doesn’t exist, so there’s no security issue, but if Apple creates a backdoor into iOS devices, there’s potential for misuse.

“For shoppers, it won’t have an immediate effect, but everybody should aware of the impact it could have and support the privacy of your own device,” Alex said. “If you can’t trust the manufacturer, you can’t trust the device, and if you can’t trust your mobile device, why would you shop on it?”

Topics: Trends

Multichannel Is Out; Omnichannel Is In

Omnichannel retail is lifestyle-focused and gives customers a seamless shopping experience online and in-store.

Having a site that looks and functions great on a desktop, tablet, and smartphone is absolutely necessary, but it isn't the determining factor of success for retailers. Now, being multichannel is overruled in favor of omnichannel because it's not just about where you sell—it's about how you sell.

In recent years, the growth of technology has simultaneously made it easier to provide your customers with outstanding experiences both online and in-store, yet increasingly more difficult to keep up with each individual's shopping behavior and preferences, especially with the adoption of ad blockers.

Convenience and value are at the forefront of a successful omnichannel experience, and Arie Shpanya, founder of retail intelligence agency Wiser, lists three ways retailers can win at omnichannel in 2016:

  • Connect the online and offline experiences to make shopping seamless 
  • Adopt new technologies to get customers to the checkout faster and easier
  • Personalize the customer experience using shopping trends and behaviors

Learning how to become an omnichannel retailer is the only way to provide value in the micro-moments that occur throughout each day for every shopper and keep up with the constant demand for an overall consistent experience across devices and physical stores. Shpanya says:

Of all the buzzwords in the e-commerce industry, there is one that has created plenty of confusion among consumers and retailers alike: omnichannel commerce.

What's the difference between omnichannel and multichannel?

The terms are divided by the customer experience.

Multichannel selling is definitely an effective way to increase your company's reach across channels, whether you're selling online and in a brick-and-mortar location, or selling from an independent webstore and a marketplace.

However, omnichannel takes it a step further by seamlessly integrating your channels to improve the overall customer experience.

2016 is going to be a big year for omnichannel, mainly because shoppers are looking harder than ever for the most convenient shopping option available.

Read the full article on Econsultancy.

Topics: Omnichannel Trends Solutions

This Week at Branding Brand: February 13-19

We took the long weekend to celebrate Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day, then looked forward to our annual employee party with a throwback from a previous year's preparations.


#HappyValentinesDay from Branding Brand!

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#tbt to #screenprinting posters for #Brandival 2014 at @cwpress

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Topics: Company

Responsive Design (Alone) Is Not the Answer

Although responsive design solves a lot of web problems, mobile optimization is a separate skill to master.

Even though it’s been a year and a half since mobile became the preferred device for shopping online, mobile shoppers have yet to make up one-third of all money spent on websites, according to our Q4 2015 Mobile Commerce Trends report.

If mobile devices are so popular, why aren’t shoppers converting?

It’s not that mobile shoppers don’t want or intend to convert. It’s that they’re “more susceptible to friction,” Shanelle Mullin from ConversionXL explains in Why Responsive Design Is Not Mobile Optimization (and What to Do About It).

She cites three main reasons mobile shoppers are different from their desktop counterparts:
  • Intent
  • Level of distraction
  • Behavior

Mullin argues that mobile users actually have a higher intent to purchase because unlike desktop users, they don’t have time to spare. Mobile shoppers are on-the-go and need their demands fulfilled quickly, but they often run into roadblocks.

That’s where mobile optimization comes in:

Back in 2014, Jeremy Smith wrote, “Traditional optimization is dead, and in its place is arising a brave new world of mobile conversion optimization.”

I have to disagree. Is mobile conversion optimization a “brave new world”? Yes. Is traditional optimization “dead”? Not by a long shot.

Traditional (i.e., web) optimization and mobile optimization are two separate practices, requiring two separate strategies. One is not replacing the other. Instead, optimizers must learn to master both.

The good news is you don’t need to choose between a mobile-dedicated site and a responsive site. This is one of the very few cases where you can have your cake and eat it, too, if you use RESS.

What is RESS?
RESS provides a consistent and customized experience for any device by combining responsive web design and server-side components.

Why use RESS?
RESS has all the benefits of traditional responsive design but puts you in total control of your website and delivers an uncompromised experience.

Learn more about RESS and how it can drive mobile conversion and increase the overall customer experience.

Read Mullin's full article on ConversionXL.

Topics: Design Trends Solutions

This Week at Branding Brand: February 6-12

We had a happy hour with doughnuts and daiquiris for Fat Tuesday and took a minute to appreciate the sights of Pittsburgh at sunset. 


Mmm, donuts. #FatTuesday #MandMs #sprinkles #donuts

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Stay beautiful, #Pittsburgh. #CityOfBridges #sunset

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Topics: Company

Set Your Site Up On the Best Blind Date

A/B testing ensures that your digital solution is giving you the most bang for your buck and serves up an first-class experience for your customers.

The best thing you can do for your mobile site or app is set it up on a blind date (or in this case, a multivariate test). A/B testing ensures that your digital solution is giving you the most bang for your buck and serves up an first-class experience for your customers.

A/B tests are a lot like blind dates:

  • You can try out the endless available options until find what works best for you.
  • You never know what will happen until you try it out, and sometimes, it may surprise you.
  • There's no damage done if it fails.

Whether you want to increase product page (PDP) view rate, conversion, or continuation rate from one page to the next, here are some of our most popular A/B tests:

Category/Product Index
A well-designed category or product index page encourages shoppers to browse more products.

A sporting goods retailer increased its PDP view rate by 5% and average order value by 1% by testing a one-column vs. two-column product display.

Click here to view this A/B test - Test Your Optimization IQ: Product Index Display

Product Page
Successful product pages give shoppers all of the information that they need to make an educated decision and have a clear call-to-action to purchase.

A fast fashion retailer increased its PDP to cart continuation rate by 9% and conversion by 10% after testing add-to-bag messaging and confirmation:

Click here to view this A/B test - Test Your Optimization IQ: "Add to Bag" Messaging and Confirmation
More PDP tests:

The cart page should be easily understandable and have a clear CTA.

A sports merchandise retailer increased its cart to checkout continuation rate by 8% and revenue per visit by 4% when it tested the placement of the "Checkout" button.

Click here to view this A/B test - Test Your Optimization IQ: Checkout Button Placement

More cart tests:

An optimized checkout is intuitive and helps shoppers purchase quickly and easily.

A shoes and accessories retailer increased its shipping to billing page continuation rate by 9% and RPV by 7% by testing auto-detecting city and state by zip code.

Click here to view this A/B test - Test Your Optimization IQ: Zip Code Auto-Detect
More checkout tests:

Let us help you optimize your customer experience or learn how you can start A/B testing on your own.

Topics: Design Solutions

This Week at Branding Brand: January 30 - February 5

Pepper was named our dog of the month, and Artist In Residence Jeremy Murray updated one of our conference rooms with a custom table.


Pepper’s a no-nonsense pup. #DogsOfBB #DogsOfInstagram #SoSerious

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Topics: Company

Industries That Are Getting Smarter in 2016

As technology continues to evolve, industries are getting smarter.

It seems as if consumers today live and breathe through their smartphones, so it's only logical that merchants connect with shoppers' mobile devices to provide unique and personalized in-store experiences, but retailers aren't the only ones who are primed for mobile disruption

As brands experiment with ways to bring tech to everyday life, various industries are trying to figure out how they can implement technology into physical stores. There are some big opportunities for industry leaders:

Grocery Stores
The food industry is arguably where the most widespread change can happen, and grocery retailers like Kroger are really starting to understand how to merge the online and offline experiences. Recently, Executive VP of Product and Sales Adam Meshekow from SITO Mobile said:

The days of family loyalty to one store do not really exist any more. 45% of grocery shoppers go to two or more stores to check off their lists, while 30% shop at four or more stores. The lesson?

Consumers are looking for the best deals and they are looking for their mobile devices to guide them there.

An omnichannel strategy gives the consumer the complete shopping experience she wants — product browsing, checkout, deals and specials, and delivery — from the palm of her hand. It also allows brands to reach their consumers through targeted ads that directly influence path to purchase, using technologies such as geofencing, mobile CRM, and verified in-store walk in.

Think coupons, shopping lists, and beacons for in-store navigation. The possibilities are endless and have the opportunity to transform a mundane, everyday task.

Expanding on the food industry, restaurants can also use a tech face-lift, and restaurant professionals seem to be intrigued by the idea, according to a recent survey. 3 out of 4 surveyed expressed interest in upgrading their experience with technology. 

Gone are the days where waiters and waitresses interrupt your meal to see if you want to order dessert or get your check. It can be done tableside with the press of a button.

This technology also allows restaurant owners to understand popular menu items, set up a loyalty program, or integrate takeout and delivery through consumer-facing apps.

Gas Stations
Anyone who has been on a road trip knows the importance of a good gas station. It not only provides fuel for the car but also for the people making the journey. Meshekow says:

According to the NACS, more than 300 people visit a gas pump per day that is attached to some type of convenience/retail store, and about 35% — approximately 105 — of those customers go inside to make a purchase.

Even if each consumer buys a $1 pack of gum, the retailer could bring in as much as $40,000 extra each year. But what if you could get your consumers to spend more?

Enter mobile. Using technologies such as geofencing and beacons in mobile advertising allows you to capture that moment at the pump to drive consumers into the store via a marketing message or rich media experience.

Gas stations that offer made-to-order food have a slight upper hand. Placing touch screens at gas pumps may entice paying customers to spend even more. If they're ordering food outside, it's guaranteed that they're coming into the store. When they do, offer them a discount on a drink to complete the meal.

Sporting & Music Events
Brands are always eager to be connected to music and sporting events. Connecting with customers through positive experiences (and highly televised events), like the Super Bowl, can increase brand awareness and change the viewer's perspective of the brand. Although Meshekow doesn't include sporting events in his list, both industries offer similar benefits:

Music is something that everyone enjoys at certain times during the day, from driving in the car to working out in the gym. Some even enjoy listening to music while they work.

The music industry has the opportunity to advertise to music listeners when they are in the mindset of actually listening to music or discovering new music by taking advantage of location-based mobile marketing by understanding geo-patterns. 

Similar to music, people often listen to ESPN radio during a commute or watch the game while working out. Whether it's a mobile loyalty program or a smart stadium, merchants and venues can make ticketing, loyalty, and engagement mobile-friendly in no time.

Movie Theaters
How many times have you planned an evening dinner and a movie? Meshekow says:

Considering most theatergoers enjoy the large format advertisements before the show, integrating a precision-targeted ad to complement this broadcast format would be wise.

A prime example? A national restaurant such as TGIFridays runs one of its ads on the big screen before the show, advertising its late-night bar menu and drink specials.

Once the movie ends and patrons leave the theater, TGIFridays can retarget them with a mobile ad that not only continues the pre-show dialogue and brand building, but also achieves a business result by providing a 15% off coupon to the theatergoer.

56% of shoppers have purchased entertainment tickets through a mobile app. Additionally, theaters can promote their loyalty programs more effectively, and customers can easily purchase tickets to the show from the comfort of their smartphone.

It's all about the customer and making it convenient for them to find the information and products they're looking for with a tap on a screen. Learn about what people want from apps in our shopper survey.
Download the report.

Read Adam Meshekow's full article on Mobile Marketer.

Topics: Trends

How to Connect Online and Offline Experiences

Retailers are challenged to connect web and in-store for an omnichannel shopping experience.

In the Age of the Customer, retailer success focuses on the overall experience rather than fragmented web and in-store encounters. Crunch Network Contributor Sanjit Dang discusses the importance of the online and offline experiences, how they connect, and the different ways that retailers can streamline them.

Here’s a funny reality. Despite the steady rise of e-commerce since the 1990s, we still stroll through malls and shops. Even with one-click ordering and overnight delivery, we purchase many of our day-to-day products and services locally and offline.

The reality is that online and offline commerce have a symbiotic relationship. People research new TVs online, then buy them in stores. But they also will take a photo of a chandelier at a friend’s house, then order it on the web.

So instead of pitting online and offline commerce against each other in a zero-sum game, we should be looking at how to make this relationship stronger.

When e-commerce became popular, brands only needed to streamline the online experience from one device to anotherNow, retailers are challenged to connect web and in-store for an omnichannel shopping experience

Read the full article on TechCrunch.

Topics: Omnichannel Trends Solutions

Test Your Optimization IQ: Manual vs. Autofill Address

Test Your Optimization IQ

We performed an A/B test on an international apparel retailer's checkout:

  • Test A: manually fill billing address
  • Test B: option to autofill billing address with shipping address

Can you guess which test increased conversion and revenue per visit?

Select a test to reveal the winner:

Test A: manually fill billing addressTest B: option to autofill billing address with shipping address

Topics: Design Solutions