Rainbow Apparel is a fashion retailer with over 1,200 stores across the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, plus an online presence at rainbowshops.com. Like many retailers, they have their own mobile apps as well, though this hasn’t been without issues.
Rainbow experimented with several versions of an app, running into significant issues finding a Shopify app builder that fit. They eventually came across MobiLoud, who were able to provide the stability and functionality a retailer of their size needed - all for next to no investment.
What They Wanted: A Mobile App Experience Equal to the Web Experience
We talked to David Cost, VP of Ecommerce and Marketing at Rainbow, about what their goals were from their mobile app.
The big takeaway was that they didn't need to reinvent the wheel. Their mobile website worked great, but some customers preferred to shop on an app.
“In our experience, users break into two camps. There are users who prefer to buy on the app and users who prefer using the browser. You can’t convince one to go the other way, you need to meet them where they are.”
The goal of the app was an experience at least as good as what they had on the web, so that the significant segment of their customer base who preferred to use an app would not be let down.
“Our apps never had any functionality or usability beyond the web experience. The reason to have an app is not to have something that isn’t on the website, but for people who prefer that way to access Rainbow content.”
Trial and Error with Native, Hybrid and Wrapper Apps
Rainbow launched their first app seven years ago. They’ve had several variants, having to move on from each because of various reasons.
“MobiLoud is the fourth app vendor that we’ve had, so we’ve experienced the plus and minuses of the native, hybrid and wrapper approaches to apps.”
Native was first – but the cost to maintain a native app proved to be too much.
They found what appeared to be a good solution, with an app wrapper – only to cause issues when they migrated their website to a new platform.
“We were working with another wrapper app provider, but we moved from Salesforce to Shopify, their solution stopped working and they were never able to solve it.”
The next step was to use a Shopify app builder to create a hybrid app, utilizing the Shopify API to pull all the key details from their site. Ultimately this couldn’t replicate the same level of user experience as their website.
“The hybrid solutions on top of Shopify are just too limited. The Shopify API only enables certain things and all the major providers of hybrid apps for Shopify had limitations that the Shopify API would not let them get around.”
They lost a year trying to get around this issue and launch an app that recreated their website, only to find it wouldn’t be possible with a hybrid app.
The wrapper approach seemed to be the best bet, being easy to maintain and easy to recreate their website experience. But they needed a proven, reliable tool that could do this for their Shopify website.
Finding a Proven Solution
At first David and his team struggled to find a tool that built wrapper apps for Shopify stores, until he came across MobiLoud.
“We started searching for a wrapper solution that works with Shopify websites, you were literally the only ones that came up. Somebody else was suggested but when we asked them the questions of giving us an example of a Shopify store they couldn’t, which you could.”
With thousands of successful apps launched, they could see examples of similar apps that use MobiLoud to launch mobile apps, like fellow fashion retailer John Varvatos.
“You were able to show us the John Varvatos app, and it worked in the way we expected.”
That was enough to convince David to see what MobiLoud could do for them.
Why MobiLoud Was the Best Option
So how did MobiLoud provide the perfect solution for Rainbow Apparel? David highlighted four reasons.
Recreating Their Website in the App
“The app needs to be at least as functional as the website. It doesn’t need to be better than the website, but the user experience can’t be worse.”
This is the issue that they ran into with other providers. Seemingly minor custom features coded on their website couldn’t be carried over to the app. Yet these customizations, such as ordering product collections a specific way, had a more dramatic effect on conversion rate than many realize.
Not being able to do the same on the app would be a dealbreaker. MobiLoud was the only one who could do this.
“The power of push notifications is so strong. In a world where people open email less and less each day, everyone is jumping into SMS which is crazy expensive, and people are starting to tune these out too, being able to do push notifications is the reason you do an app.”
Building an app with MobiLoud let them access this extremely powerful communication channel, which in itself is worth investing in the app.
“Push notifications are the cheapest and most powerful communication channel we have. We find that users who prefer to interact via an app are more loyal, buy from us more often and spend more time with our content.”
“Before we had web, iOS and Android apps. That would be 3 different things to maintain. With the wrapper approach, we have the best of both worlds, and stop having to maintain a third platform.”
MobiLoud’s wrapper app approach is extremely cheap and easy to maintain, without the added complexity of juggling multiple platforms.
“If we had unlimited time and money, we would probably go for a custom native app, but that is half a million to a million a year to maintain.”
“The expense isn’t that big, and operationally, there’s not that much we have to do for the app. It’s a no-brainer, especially when you add push notifications on top.”
The price of building an app with MobiLoud, for a retailer of Rainbow’s size and who do as much business as they do through the app, was so minor there was zero risk to try it out.
“You’re essentially offering an app for free. Your price is so low, you’re a fool not to try an app.”
After 7 Years and 4 App Builds, Rainbow Launched the Perfect App
After a long journey, Rainbow found a reliable, stable option that let them do everything they needed in an app.
“My team is thrilled because we have functioning apps that require almost no effort on our part. It is a brilliant solution. For someone that wants to see the impact an app has on a business, MobiLoud is the single best way to make that happen.”
Better yet, along with being cheaper and easier, their MobiLoud app build is actually delivering better results than their previous app.
“We have seen our conversion rate increasing when we moved from our hybrid app to MobiLoud.”
The seamless user experience between web and mobile is a winner with Rainbow customers, which makes it a winner with the Rainbow Apparel team as well.
Rainbow Shops is just one of thousands of examples of successful apps launched with MobiLoud. Whether you run an ecommerce store, a news site, forum or any other type of online business, if you’ve been thinking about converting your site to a mobile app, there’s never been a better time to do it.
MobiLoud makes the entire process simple and affordable. Just book a personalized demo to have one of our app experts walk it through for you.
Rainbow Apparel is a fashion retailer, with over 1,200 stores across the US, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. They specialize in affordable clothing, shoes and accessories for women, juniors and kids, size inclusive.