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Crutchfield sees benefits from speedy mobile checkout

Matt Hamblen, Computerworld | June 3, 2011
Crutchfield, an electronics and auto stereo retailer, has found that the easier a smartphone payment technology is for buyers to use, the greater the number of sales.


Crutchfield implemented a two-click mobile payment system from online payment provider PayPal last December. The system, called Mobile Express Checkout, eliminates the time and effort needed to input a shipping address and the payment source for a purchase, which are already securely stored with PayPal.

Crutchfield has seen a 34% increase in converting shoppers to buyers on its mobile Web site since implementing Mobile Express, said Todd Cabell, senior manager of e-commerce at Crutchfield in an interview. He didn't share actual sales figures.

Mobile sales are a relatively low proportion of tens of thousands of daily online visits to Crutchfield, "but growing extremely quickly," Cabell noted.

Because PayPal has more than 95 million users globally, that large customer base has helped Crutchfield. A full 65% of those using the PayPal Mobile Express Checkout were new customers to Crutchfield, Cabell said.

Mobile Express Checkout is supported on most mobile platforms, with iOS the most popular, followed by Android and then BlackBerry, Cabell said.

Many of the integration duties with Crutchfield's mobile Web site have been been handled by Usablenet, Cabell said.

Crutchfield still offers mobile check-out via a conventional credit card and sells its products online from desktop computers as well as over the phone from two Virginia-based call centers and through catalogs.

The electronics retailer has thousands of items for sale, including many of

them costing hundreds of dollars. Customers commonly use online and mobile payments for their purchases, and the size of mobile orders is similar to desktop computer orders, Cabell said.

Even though mobile payment technology represents the future, Cabell said that the traditional call center is still considered essential to Crutchfield's business.

Crutchfield was founded in 1974 on the concept of offering technical insights by experts to amateurs. "A core part of our business is our call center experts who are sales advisors who each get 13 weeks of training," Cabell said.

Stephen Strauss, senior manager of PayPal Mobile Solutions, said it took about two weeks to integrate MobileExpress at Crutchfield. Hundreds of companies use the tool globally, including some large retailers in the U.S. such as Sears, and 800 Flowers, he said.


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