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The Biggest Mobile Moves of 2016

Numbers like these exemplify why everyone’s looking to mobile to augment softening brick-and-mortar sales. As stores look for new ways to entice consumers, increasingly, they’re reaching for their phones.

However, one fact mars the march toward mobile: m-commerce still lags far behind desktops when it comes to converting lookeeloos into consumers. Though it’s true that we spend much more shopping time on our phones (66 percent versus 34 percent on computers), mobile purchases only represent 19 percent of the overall online spend, according to ComScore.

But even in light of these stats, the industry isn’t content to wait for mobile to pay off. Brands and retailers are continuously looking for new ways to monetize mobile traffic by streamlining checkouts, monetizing social and integrating all platforms.

Here’s a snapshot of a few of the mobile moves in 2016.

Online retailers that have had mobile as a key component of their strategies from the start are faring better the cumulative online stats reveal. Both Asos and Alibaba started the year off riding high off of big m-commerce numbers. Asos reported that 66 percent of its traffic came from mobile in 2015 and drove 51 percent of its orders.

For its fourth quarter, China’s online behemoth posted a 192 percent mobile revenue spike. Mobile also accounted for the lion’s share of its gross merchandise volume. It’s no wonder the retailer extended its Alipay mobile payment system to Europe this summer. The move allows Alibaba to capture sales by Chinese travelers while they’re abroad.

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Count Under Armor in on the mobile boom. The sportswear brand, which posted 30 percent revenue growth in the first quarter, credits mobile with driving more than half of its traffic during the period. The surge has incentivized the brand to boost its ecommerce capabilities.

There’s no talking about phones and portable devices without at least a mention of social media. And social is muscling in on the action. Instagram is piloting a program that allows consumers to view product details from 20 U.S. brands and shop their favorites via convenient Shop Now links. The photo sharing app hopes the enhanced product information will help decrease one barrier to conversions.

MikMak, a new video service designed specifically for mobile, is taking the product information hurdle from another angle. Or, make that all angles. The app uses “minimercials,” or short infomercials, to show and sell a range of goods that users can click to buy. Think QVC for the smallest screen. The low-budget, high-energy commercials have found a target audience with women in their 20s.

Speaking of pain points, soon passwords could be a thing of the past. Companies like MasterCard are currently testing technology that will accept selfies as a method of payment. The so-called biometric authentication uses facial recognition in lieu of nonsensical alphanumeric strings, making purchases a snap.

Mobile isn’t all about online sales. Macy’s is using its new On Call service to help enhance the in-store experience. The mobile tool, which was developed in coordination with Satisfi and is powered by IBM’s Watson, can help with everything from locating sections in the store to finding a particular style on the racks.

Hudson’s Bay Company jumped into the flash sale business with its purchase of Gilt earlier this year, extending the company’s off-price commitment. The move put Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor’s parent company on better mobile footing as well. HBC’s acquisition gives it access to the site’s 9 million members, including its rabid millennial fanbase. What’s more, 50 percent of sales on the site were generated via mobile.

Though 60 percent of its traffic already comes from mobile, sale site Ru La La is not letting up. Rather, the retailer has positioned itself for more on-the-go shoppers with the integration of Apple Pay. The retailer hopes the added security measures the payment method is known for will make consumers even more willing to fill their online shopping carts.

Thread and yarn vendor American & Efird is bringing mobile to the product development cycle. With the company’s app, designers can ensure color accuracy all the way down the supply chain. Plus, they can capture inspiration wherever they go thanks to its integration with ColorCatch Nano, which identifies colors on a variety of surfaces.

Similarly, the color people at Pantone have developed an app that helps creative plays with palettes and share their ideas on design software and via social. Pantone Studio essentially transforms the old print swatches into digital format.